Tips for Virtual Learning

These are unprecedented times – for students, faculty, and staff. None of us planned for this! Please know that even if we are not together on campus, you still belong at Calumet College! From faculty to all of our support areas, including the Library, Tutoring, Advising, Financial Aid, Athletics, and Student Services, we are committed to providing all the support you need and to making this semester meaningful for you. To help, here are some campus resources and some ideas from the many other colleges and universities that are facing the same issues.

Campus Resources

  • Advising. To register for classes, get additional information about classes, or discuss changes in your academic schedule, email or call 219-473-4220.
  • Counseling. Kerry Knowles, our Student Assistance Program (SAP) therapist, is available by phone (cell: 219-413-3702 or office: 219-663-6353) or email (
  • Disability Support Services. Reach out to John Mackowicz for help with accommodations at or call 219-218-3105.
  • Financial Aid. For information about your account, financial aid applications, awards, and refunds, call 219-473-4379 or email
  • The Library. Chat with Library Director Dr. Chen at or call her for assistance at 773-257-3897.
  • Technology Support. To reset passwords or get other assistance for the technology of virtual learning, contact the CCSJ help desk at 219-473-4366 or via email at
  • Tutoring Services. Email Jennifer Young at, call 219-473-4285, or contact your professor during virtual office hours. More info will follow soon regarding 24-hour tutoring services.

Managing Your Time

Perhaps the most difficult part of virtual learning is managing your time. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Create a schedule. Set up specific times every day for specific tasks: studying, meals, breaks, family needs, TV and movies, games, pampering yourself. Make the people you are with every day part of your team for success – share your plans with family and friends and ask them to help you stay on task.
  2. Schedule rewards – your breaks and entertainment – to come after you achieve specific goals for the day.
  3. Plan, plan, plan! Find the way that works best for you to keep track of what you need to do every day to keep up in every one of your classes. You can make lists for each class, for all your classes, or for everything you have to do. You’ll find some downloadable Microsoft templates for daily, weekly, and monthly calendars here:, and here are some possibilities for using them:
    • Start a habit of daily to-do lists: Make a list at the end of the day for what has to be accomplished the next day, check it first thing in the morning, and then review at the end of the day. Carry over anything that you didn’t complete to your list for the next day.
    • Make a weekly plan: Enter all assignments and other requirements on a weekly calendar so you can see at a glance what needs to be done each day. Include the due times for assignments or tests so you don’t miss deadlines.
    • Look ahead: A monthly plan can help you move forward to the end of the semester on May 8. List long-term projects such as research papers or final exams and what you need to do each week to finish successfully on time.
  4. Dress for success. Some of us are happy working in our pajamas all day if we will not be seeing anyone other than family members. But many people find that if they shower and dress they feel like they’re going to work, and they do better at focusing on work and study. Give it a try and see if getting dressed makes you feel more like tackling your classes than watching another Netflix series.
  5. Get help. The Tutoring Center can assist in finding a time management strategy that will work for you. Reach out to Email Jennifer Young at or call 219-473-4285.

Staying Engaged in Your Classes

Faculty have been working diligently to make virtual classes work effectively, and we are ready to be flexible and available to help you succeed. Here’s what you can do:

  • Check your CCSJ email and Blackboard class daily. Faculty are communicating regularly. Be sure you know how they will be keeping in touch, and check those communications every day.
  • Stay in touch with your professors. Reach out to ask questions, share ideas, or just to check in. Most faculty have chosen this profession because we love meeting with our students, so we miss seeing you regularly. Let us know how you are!
  • Take advantage of faculty virtual office hours.
  • Stay in touch with other students. To avoid feeling isolated, reach out to other students. Use all class methods available, such as discussion boards, groups, and teams. If these methods are not available in your class, ask for opportunities for virtual gatherings.
  • Study actively. Reading and re-reading on your own may not be the most effective way to learn. Experts recommend
    • Writing summaries of difficult text in your own words
    • Self-testing
    • Teaching material to someone else
    • Debating issues with others in your class
    • Repetition – go over the material multiple times over a period of time rather than trying to master it all at once. This is where planning ahead and making lists is valuable.
  • Avoid multitasking. It may seem exciting to be able to study, binge your favorite show, and share family time all at once, but multitasking shows in your work:
    • Assignments will take longer.
    • You will be more likely to make mistakes.
    • You won’t remember as much.

Instead, focus on one thing at a time, schedule breaks, and reward yourself when you accomplish your goals.

Maintaining Integrity

We are all aware that virtual learning offers more opportunities for unethical behavior than the classroom does. Remember who you choose to be as a person. The CCSJ Honor Code, which was developed by the Honors Learning Community and endorsed by Faculty Senate and the Board of Trustees says the following:

I, as a student member of the Calumet College academic community, in accordance with the college’s mission and in a spirit of mutual respect, pledge to:

  • Continuously embrace honesty and curiosity in the pursuit of my educational goals;
  • Avoid all behaviors that could impede or distract from the academic progress of myself or other members of my community;
  • Do my own work with integrity at all times, in accordance with syllabi, and without giving or receiving inappropriate aid;
  • Do my utmost to act with commitment, inside and outside of class, to the goals and mission of Calumet College of St. Joseph.

If you are not sure if collaboration with others is allowed, ask! If you use words or ideas that are not your own, cite your sources! Library Director Dr. Chen can help you cite correctly. You can chat with her or call her for assistance at 773 257-3897.

Taking Care of Yourself

In stressful times, as we adjust to new ways of learning and getting along with others, it becomes especially important to take some time for ourselves. Here are just a few ways to do that:

  • Get some exercise – every day. Gyms may be closed, but the weather is good for walking, and every kind of exercise video is available online. Now is a good time to develop a new routine!
  • Stay in touch. Use Facetime, Zoom, or other virtual ways to maintain bonds with family and friends.
  • Find ways to help. Experts say that reaching out to do things for others helps in uncertain times.
  • Reach for the spiritual. Prayer and meditation can help us remain grounded. Dr. McCormack shared this appropriate “Prayer for a Pandemic”:

May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.

May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.

May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.

May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.

May we who have to cancel our trips remember those that have no place to go.

May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.

May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.

During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.


Microsoft Office 365

Through an EES agreement that is maintained with Microsoft, Calumet College of St. Joseph is able to provide Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus for currently active students, faculty and staff at no cost. With Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus, Microsoft Office applications can be used online and on mobile devices. Additionally this subscription allows for up to five installations of Microsoft Office on a PC or Mac. Instructions on how to obtain access to Office 365 ProPlus and a FAQ on the use of Office 365 ProPlus can be found below.

Internet Resources

These are quick resources for students to get access to internet at home if they do not have access.

  • “Guide to Low Income Internet Options and Affordable Internet Plans”
  • Comcast: The company is offering Internet Essentials as an affordable way for homes who receive public assistance to get online. The plan is available for about $10 per month. In addition, they are increasing speeds for all customers in response to emergency measures associated with the coronavirus, and new customers receive two months free.
  • “Comcast Offers Free Internet to Low Income Households”
  • Charter/Spectrum: Charter Communications is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students at any service level up to 100 Mbps. Installation fees are also waived. This is only for homes that do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription.
  • Mediacom: This ISP is upgrading its low-cost Connect2Compete internet program and offering 60 days of free service for qualifying families who subscribe before May 15.
  • Suddenlink: New household with K-12 or college students who do not currently have home internet access can get free internet for 60 days.