Going into your first semester at McIntire means lots of new experiences, challenges, and opportunities regardless of the online or in-person format. Here are some key things you need to expect for an online experience with McIntire.
For Commerce classes, there is an expectation to be there every day and ready to participate. The online structure is no different. Professors expect the same level of engagement and make every effort to make that easy for you. So expect the cold calling, the post-class follow-up questions, and real-time case study simulations! You can even expect some before-class banter. Many professors open up classes 5-10 minutes early, so we can casually chitchat like we would in an in-person class.
In the online environment, many professors set up additional office hours or extend part of class specifically for students to ask questions or talk about what’s on their mind. Communication is vital to being successful at McIntire, and in an online environment, over-communication is often needed. Making sure you are thoroughly engaging with content and establishing relationships should still be some of your top priorities!
For the most part, class structure remains unchanged. All of my McIntire classes were synchronous (or “live”), during which I was expected to have my video on and be ready to speak. Class structure varied, but most followed the “business as usual” format. Here are some different class structures I experienced:
- Business (mostly) as usual: All classes are live, and none are recorded. Class felt very “normal” from a structural perspective.
- Lecture-heavy classes often accompanied a split-screen of professor notes, such as a document camera or a chalkboard-like function.
- Excel-focused classes, in my opinion, were somewhat improved, as screen-share made it easier to see the formulas professors were using.
- Group case-study simulations or activities were done via breakout sessions on Zoom or scheduled independently to allow for more time during live sessions.
- Half and half: Lecture video supplements are assigned outside of class, and scheduled class time is used for condensed lectures or Q&A. These classes often let out a little earlier than scheduled if there were few questions that day.
- Flipped classroom: Lectures are done outside of class time, and scheduled class time is reserved for mandatory or optional Q&A/review sessions.
During longer classes, like in the Integrated Core Experience (ICE), there is typically a built-in break time. For me, this time was usually spent making a cup of coffee! Although this section is a break, students often fill the time asking questions or just making small talk.
Be familiar and up to date with your technology. Emails have become more frequent, dense, and essential in an online environment. Professors and classmates will often put a lot more information into emails to communicate expectations and deadlines. I recommend staying up to date with your emails and even trying to organize your inbox.
Get comfortable communicating through Zoom. Office hours and group meetings are frequent activities for you during your time at McIntire. Zoom tends to be the quickest way to get your questions answered and expectations aligned. In an in-person setting, your group will spend hours together in study rooms or labs getting deliverables finished. There may be some added challenges while online, but this element of McIntire doesn’t change. My group and I often set up meetings dedicated to silent work over Zoom, so when someone had a question, just as if we were in a study room, they could just speak up. Moreover, your group will still be doing presentations throughout the semester, whether on Zoom or recorded in a classroom.
GroupMe is also another great way to communicate with your block and group members. Not only does this help everyone bond, but it is also a great way to start a study group online! Naturally, you will rely on each other to engage better with the material by discussing your thoughts on readings or approaches to your deliverables.
McIntire virtual desktops are also something everyone should look into when working from home, especially if you have a Mac. In some courses, there are Excel add-ins and other software you will need to use that just work better on windows. But no need to fear! Remote access to lab computers is available to all McIntire students throughout the school year.
- Expect to be participating in class, to be setting up Zoom office hours, and long Zoom calls with your group.
- Class time is not optional, as most sessions are live, and many are not recorded. Even if they are recorded, you are still expected to be logged in and likely showing your face!
- Keep up to date and organized with your emails, get comfortable with Zoom, set up group chats, and know that McIntire virtual desktops are at your disposal.
Be confident that you will receive a robust experience in your McIntire classes.