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How to prepare for online classes

How to prepare for online classes

Eight ways to stay on track as all classes transition to remote instruction.

March 12, 2020 at 12:00am

FIU has been working hard to prepare for COVID-19. In an abundance of caution, and with the health and safety of its students and faculty in mind, the university has transitioned face-to-face classes online, effective Thursday, March 12, through at least April 4, said President Mark B. Rosenberg in a university-wide update.

For those who have never enrolled in an online course with FIU, there are a few tips to keep in mind. The most common things online learners encounter include how to manage time and technology questions. Beyond these areas, the following list compiles eight things you need to know to make your performance online as successful as it can be.

1. Calendar

It doesn’t matter if you’re old-school and prefer a paper agenda or an online native and like to set digital reminders. The idea is simply to ensure you know what’s coming and how long you have to prepare for it. Canvas, the platform used to access courses, offers a user-friendly calendar and many online learners find it convenient.

2. Canvas app

Canvas can also be set up to send push notifications and can be accessed with an easy-to-use mobile app, which makes all classes truly portable. Send emails, check assignments and, if needed, draft a discussion post from your phone.

3. Microsoft tools

One of the perks of being an FIU student is free access to the technology you need to stay on track. Students can install Microsoft Office on a total of up to five personal computers and 10 mobile devices. To download your free copy, visit and log in with your FIU username and password.

4. Zoom

FIU encourages the use of Zoom, the university’s official web conferencing application for real-time course lectures, meetings and tutoring. With Zoom, students can meet with group members for projects and assignments, work on homework with classmates, record a presentation, schedule online tutoring, or host a meeting for a club or organization. All currently enrolled FIU students are eligible to access Zoom. To create a Zoom account, visit and log in with your FIU username and password.

5. Online grammar software

Avoid losing points for misspellings and grammar! Many free grammar apps exist to help make sure your text is error-free. Consider adding one to your device to help you with your postings and to review your papers. 

6. Time issues

While online programs give you the flexibility to study on your own time, it is important to dedicate time each week to focus and work on required readings, assignments and discussions. Create a routine and stick to it.

Another thing to consider with online courses is that they are portable, but the FIU time zone is not. While university community travel restrictions are in place because of COVID-19, if you must travel, keep in mind that your coursework deadlines are based on Miami, FL, time (EST), so you do not miss assignment deadlines. 

Also, when you first enroll, scan your syllabus and make note of major assignments. Think about obligations coming up and if there might be a conflict. For example, many working business students, such as those who work in accounting, may be busier during tax season. Be sure to plan accordingly.

Finally, if you have time concerns, contact your instructor. They understand that life may get in the way and may be able to align deadlines or provide you with options based on your personal situation.

7. Netiquette

Netiquette includes the unspoken rules and norms practiced when interacting with others through the internet so that communication is considerate and respectful. Be mindful of what you post and who will see your postings.

8. LMS or internet down

Students can receive technical support 24/7 if they have trouble with Canvas. In preparation for transitioning face-to-face courses online, FIU Online has added support staff to assist students and faculty. Visit if you need assistance. FIU Online representatives will help navigate specific concerns and document issues in case special arrangements are needed. Also, if your area has Wi-Fi connectivity issues, consider back-up plans.  

There are many ways to prepare for your online experience with FIU. While no two online experiences are alike, with a little preparation, your experience can be seamless.