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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

Ontario Tech University and the online transition

September 24, 2020

Classes are predominantly online right now, with only certain courses having limited labs and tutorials in-person. I’ll admit, when the COVID-19 pandemic pushed everyone online overnight back in March, the transition was rough. Heck, the transition is still rough. On a positive note though, some people expressed on social media that online learning is working better for them because it has allowed for more sleep and to have a closer connection to the material (to the professors who recorded lectures as well as gave them live, you’re the real MVPs).

So how will we approach this year? It’s one thing to have online classes for a few weeks, but for an entire semester and possibly a whole year? That’s a whole different situation. Here are some tips to consider on how to tackle the online learning that is ahead of us.

Schedule class time even if courses don’t have a live component

Some classes are synchronous, meaning that the class will function like an in-person class, just through an online software like Google Meets or Kaltura. Other classes are asynchronous, so there is no designated meeting time. Technically, work on the content can be done whenever students wish, as long as they respect due dates (quizzes, discussion boards, etc). While the possibility of having the flexibility to work on these courses whenever you want may seem tempting, I like to pretend like these classes have a synchronous time. If I have a discussion board post and a quiz every week, I set two hours aside on one day to dedicate to that course. Either to completing my readings, watching the pre-recorded lecture videos, or any other material I may need to work on. Doing this helps establish a sense of routine and helps with avoiding procrastination.

Socializing will still be important

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic showed me, it’s that we can sometimes take for granted the forced socializing that school gives us. It’s pretty hard to be on campus and see or talk to no one. I’m sure some will be able to say they’ve done this, but I’m betting most people talk to someone when they are at school. I remember spending a lot of my time at the downtown campus location just sitting at a table in the student lounge talking to friends because they were walking through. Because many courses will be entirely online, we won’t have that same shared socializing space, so it will take more effort to meet our social needs. I’ve been having regular video calls with friends and seeing some friends on a one-on-one basis while respecting public health guidelines. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at how supportive good friends are when you’re stuck at home and craving a good conversation.

Go to office hours

When we’re on campus, it’s very easy to just talk to our professors before or after class. Now, interacting with professors will take more effort on our part. As part of the online support for students, most professors will have designated virtual office hours where students can either drop-in or book an appointment. Trust me when I say, professors LOVE it when students go to their office hours. It’s the time that they’ve carved out just for us. If you think you’re bothering them, you aren’t! Even if you want to tell them about your interests and future goals, they’ll be happy to listen and help out if they can. Take it from me, as someone who has taken up a lot of my professors’ time just chatting about things, getting to know your professors can really improve your odds of success in both your course, and university in general.

Peer tutoring is still happening

As a Peer Tutor for the Student Learning Centre, I’m very happy to say that Student Life is committed to running Peer Tutoring and specialist support in an online format this year. This service is still available at NO CHARGE for students to use. If you need help on your essays, math homework, concepts from class, and more, the peer tutors, writing tutors, PASS Leaders, and the subject and writing specialists will be ready and happy to help you out! Don’t forget about this service if you won’t be on campus this year. For more information visit our academic support page or the Student Life Portal to book an appointment.

Be patient

Online learning is new to a lot of people. It’s possible that you won’t just “get it” from the start. Go easy on yourself (and your peers and professors) because just like with adjusting to university in general, you will adapt and overcome the obstacles in front of you. If you need extra time because your home life is stressful, talk to your professors because they might grant an extension. If you need mental health support, contact Student Mental Health Services, who are also doing virtual appointments this year. Reach out to the support services that you may need and look at this as another challenge that will make you a more well-rounded individual after you graduate. We are Ridgebacks, so we will overcome and succeed in the end!

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