Transitioning to an Online Learning Experience

It is your first class in an online program and you are ready to go, but have some uncertainties about what the online experience will be like. What is expected of you? How do you navigate the online platforms? How does this differ from in-person experiences?

While the end goal of in-person and online programs is the same, the methods can be quite different and at sometimes daunting. Virtual classrooms are seen more and more as technology enhances and brings about new experiences as well as new challenges for first-time students. It can especially be different in our Nutrition Education program when someone is changing careers to join our program and will be studying science and writing research-based papers in an online setting.

Luckily, most students and faculty are in the same boat as you. We are here to help you navigate this new experience. Below are some tips for ensuring a seamless transition into our program.

Time Management

One of the most challenging aspects of online learning is the autonomy that you have from going through the program at your own speed and meeting deadlines while balancing other life commitments. Take time to map out your week and make sure there is adequate time to do the readings and assignments for the class. This can either be set times in the evening, full weekend days or a mix of both. Find what works best for you and remember that with 8-week classes, the courses move quickly!

Get to Know Your Professors

Your professors are here to help you succeed in the program and it is important to remember that each one has their own style and method of teaching. It is encouraged to reach out to your professor to get to know them and to share a bit about yourself as well. Set up a time to chat either by phone, Skype or Adobe Connect to connect with them to build a relationship. This will serve you both during the program and after you graduate when you are job searching or looking for new opportunities and experiences.

Get to Know Your Classmates

In addition, take some time to get to know your classmates. They are a great resource for some of the everyday questions that you may have. That’ll also allow the wonderful opportunity to make connections with students across the country and even the world. This will make the online experience seem less isolating, and it is always great to connect with like-minded individuals!

Communication is Key

Since virtual communication is the only way of being involved in the experience of the program, it is imperative to keep in touch with classmates and instructors. Let your professors know ahead of time of any time conflicts, illnesses, vacations, etc. so that they can make any necessary accommodations. Classes move quickly so it is important to reach out often with anything you may need.

Utilize Our Resources

As an online student, you are every bit a part of the AU community as any other student, and there are many resources available to you! I would highly encourage utilizing the AU Writing Center and Career Center as part of the program -- and if you live in the area there are many opportunities that you can be a part of on campus as well.

There are many other ways to enhance your online learning experience, but if you start with these suggestions, hopefully your transition into the program will be smooth. Most importantly, enjoy the courses and the program as a whole – we are all here for you and are excited to work with you!

About the Author

Allison Tepper is a Registered Dietitian licensed in both Washington, DC and Maryland. Prior to coming to American University, she had both counseling and food service roles at Georgetown University working with students, faculty, and staff with a range of needs including food allergies, general healthy eating, sports nutrition, medical nutrition therapy, eating disorders and more. She specializes in intuitive and mindful eating and helping clients have a healthier relationship with food.

If you are interested in learning more about the online Master’s in Nutrition Education and how you can help educate others on living healthier lives, contact us at 855-725-7614 to speak to one of our admissions representatives or request more information