Organize your materials and assignments

Start with the small stuff: you may feel overwhelmed, but take a deep breath and gather your information.

For each course, determine:

  • What are the elements of the course? (discussions, lectures, other)
  • How can you access them? (Zoom, Canvas, other?. Are they being offered synchronously (“live”) or asynchronously (you can access recorded or published materials any time)?
  • How can you contact your professor or your classmates?
  • Has the number, type or due date for assignments, tests, and exams changed?
  • How will you submit work?
  • Will your professor offer online office hours? Are there class discussion groups?

To avoid being overwhelmed, tackle one course at a time – maybe even one course a day – and then spend Friday mapping out the rest of the semester, and creating a strong daily schedule (see below). Feel free to continue using The Big Picture

Adjusting Student Habits During Remote Instruction (Student focused document on how to manage and change your habits to accommodate remote only instruction)

Set a good schedule

Working from home can be challenging, and a routine is more important than ever – especially if your classes are offered asynchronously. Think about how you can create a structured day. Some good practices include:

  • Try to do as much work as you can early in the day, or at least during daylight hours.
  • Try to start each day at the same time; sleeping in on “late” days is like giving yourself jetlag every other day!
  • Divide your day into manageable “chunks” – spend 1-2 hours at a time on one course, then take a short break and move on to something else.
  • At the same time, don’t multitask or microtask: give yourself long enough at a stretch to complete a reading, or a module, or a problem set.
  • Schedule frequent breaks to get up and move! Outdoors if possible, but definitely away from your phone or laptop.
  • Work with your family to make sure that they understand your schedule, and that you will need to stick to it. If they know that you need to spend 2:00-3:00 pm reading for your 3:30 Zoom meeting, they won’t ask you to walk the dog at 2:30.
  • Just like on campus, make sure to schedule time for exercise!
  • Make sure you are scheduling free time and mealtimes, and give yourself an end-time each night. Draw some boundaries around your academic work so that you can relax and spend time with family.

Use online or paper tools to build your daily calendar and stick to it! Outlook or other calendars work well, or download our weekly planner.
It may take a while to fine-tune your schedule, but stick with it: a strong routine will help you regain a sense of normalcy more quickly!

Make the most of Zoom and other online tools

  • Treat an online class as if it were in Stern or Smith. Be dressed, be on time, and be prepared. In fact, give yourself 5 minutes before the scheduled start time to gather your materials and thoughts. Look over your notes from the previous meeting or your readings, and anticipate today’s discussion. The only real difference from Stern Hall is that pets are welcome!
  • Sit at a desk or workspace. Have all your materials (textbook, notes) and take notes as you would in class.
  • Close any other apps on your computer that may be distracting. It will be easier to focus on Zoom if it is the only thing running.
  • If you choose to use video make sure to keep your video on; again, you will be more engaged if you need to be making eye contact.
  • Use the “Chat” feature for questions.
  • Mute the microphone, and use headphones to focus on the class, not other things going on around your home.
  • If your professor records lectures or presentations for you to watch at a later time, try to stick to a regular class schedule to view them.
  • Watch recordings at normal speed, and give them your full attention. Again, pretend that you are there in the classroom. Pretend your professor and peers can see you!

Class meetings may be recorded and made available in a restricted manner to students currently registered for the class; if faculty choose to record a class meeting, they should communicate this to students. Students may not record lectures or classes without permission from the faculty leading the class (and guest speakers, when applicable); students who require recordings to support learning needs should contact the Disability Services Coordinator at the Center for Teaching and Learning for individualized accommodations. When permission is granted, students may keep recordings only for personal use. Recordings may not be reproduced, shared with those not in the class, or uploaded to other online platforms. In the event that faculty would like to share recordings beyond the class, they must request consent of students identifiable in the recordings prior to dissemination.

More details on Zoom can be found here.

Stay connected!

  • If you usually study in a group, think about ways you can replicate this. As well as Zoom, you can look at Google Duo, FaceTime, Skype or even the phone to work with others.
  • Working with a group or study partner can help bring some structure into your day: set a regular time to connect with someone in each class to go over readings, the lecture, and even just to catch up.
  • Beyond your academic work, make sure that you are connecting virtually with friends, roommates, teammates and family. We are all going to be feeling lonelier than usual, so don’t hesitate to reach out! What about the friends you usually eat meals with? Set up a few weekly “virtual” lunches to catch up.

Be Patient

Remember your first weeks at HWS? Once again, you are learning how to learn in a new environment – the big difference is that this time we’re all in the same boat, faculty and staff included! Be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your professors. Just like Orientation, what seems overwhelming and confusing will soon start to make sense – you’ve got this!

If you would like to discuss your strategies for online learning, please email to schedule an online appointment.

How do I communicate with my Professor?

Ask your faculty how they prefer to interact, as preferences will vary – canvas, zoom and email are all viable options. they will be able to tell you the mode they prefer and the expectations surrounding frequency of communications. This is a good time to check your canvas notification preferences.

  • Canvas
  • Email
  • Zoom

For additional support with Zoom or other technology

View the Remote Learning Resource for Students.

IT Services is providing open sessions for students who would like to practice using this service. In order for you to get the most out of these sessions please be sure to review Preparing for Your First Zoom before attending. Students should feel free to drop in and out at their convenience:

Please use this link to join one of the sessions below:
Sunday, March 22: 1:00pm – 3:00pm (EST)
Sunday, March 22: 7:00pm – 9:00pm (EST)
Monday, March 23: 7:00pm – 9:00pm (EST)
Tuesday, March 24: 6:00pm – 7:00pm (EST)
Wednesday, March 25: 6:00pm – 7:00pm (EST)
Meeting ID: 656-786-620

If you have questions, please contact the Help Desk at x4357 or

What if I don’t have access to the internet?

Connectivity for students who don’t have it:

FCC agreement stating that providers will waive late fees, not cutoff service for lack of payment, and open hot-spots.

Comcast COVID-19 response: offers free WiFi for 2 months to low income families plus all Xfinity hot-spots are free to the public during this time.

Charter Free Internet offer for 2 months

AT&T COVID-19 response: offers open hot-spots, unlimited data to existing customers, and $10/month plans to low income families

Verizon COVID-19 response: no special offers, but following the FCC agreement.

Sprint COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, provides unlimited data to existing customers, and, starting Tuesday, 3/17/2020, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).

T-Mobile COVID-19 response: follows FCC agreement, plus unlimited data to existing customers, and, coming soon, will allow all handsets to enable hot-spots for 60 days at no extra charge (I expect others will follow).

HWS belongs to Eduroam (education roaming, a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community. Eduroam allows students, researchers, and staff from participating institutions to obtain Internet connectivity across campus and when visiting other participating institutions by simply opening their laptop. Perhaps another Eduroam institution is located close to you!

Do my accommodations still apply during remote instruction?

Yes, all accommodations should still be honored during this period. Please note that CTL does not have specific information about how each course will be delivered. Reach out to your instructors to discuss how changes in instruction will impact you.

What if I need new or additional disability related accommodations?

If you need new or additional disability related accommodations, make sure you understand the structure of the classes before making an appointment with Christen Davis, Disability Services Coordinator using this link.

What if I don’t have access to textbooks or reading material?

First, check the HWS library catalogue as publishers have made many resources already available online. In addition, the HWS Library has curated a resource for you that lists access to texts for free. You can find that information here.

If you need further assistance locating your course materials you may contact the CTL by reaching Chris Otero at Please title your email, ‘Textbook Request ’.

Information about Coronavirus (COVID-19)


We know that this is a shift in practice.

If you have technology questions, please contact the Help Desk at x4357 or

For pedagogical, assessment, and student learning questions, please reach out to the Center for Teaching and Learning x3351, or

Note: This document was adapted from a document created by Jenae Cohn and Brian Seltzer, Stanford University, California. Their work was outstanding and served as the basis for Hobart and William Smith Colleges guide for Academic Continuity During Disruption.