FAQs about Learning Remotely

Will I still be able to access Academic Resource Center services?

Yes! All Academic Resource Center services are available online via Zoom. The ARC offers Zoom Academic Coaching and Peer Tutoring one-on-one appointments as well as Zoom Workshops, Power Hours, and Accountability Groups. Students can sign up for all services on the ARC website. A range of services are available from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (Harvard time) to accommodate various time zones. All services remain free to Harvard College students.

Is Peer Tutoring still available through the Academic Resource Center?

Yes! ARC Peer Tutoring is available via Zoom by appointment during normal term time. As usual, appointment scheduling is online. 

How can I sign up for peer tutoring?

Students can schedule appointments (up to two hours per week per course) for a wide variety of courses using the ARC Scheduler. For courses not available through the Scheduler, students can use the Tutor Matcher. Instructions for using these systems are available on the ARC website.

Is Academic Coaching still available through the Academic Resource Center?

Yes! ARC Academic Coaching is available via Zoom by appointment. As usual, appointment scheduling is online on the Academic Coaching webpage under services. You will need to log in with your Harvard Key and select a coach and time that works for you. Remember that the times are all Eastern Daylight Saving Time.

How can the ARC help me if I am in a different time zone?

To accommodate students in various time zones, an ARC Academic Coach will be available for appointments Monday through Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time and on Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time. Workshops, power hours, and accountability groups are also happening in the evenings and on Sundays. Peer tutoring is available at a wide range of times, because our peer tutors are now working from remote locations across the globe.

What can an Academic Coach help me with over Zoom?

Everything an Academic Coach can help with in person! That includes assistance with time management, planning, organization, self-regulation, and study skills. We can share screens when helpful to discuss an online calendar, study plan, etc. When studying online, you might find that you need more assistance with self-regulation and time management than you need when you have the structure of being on campus. We are here to help you with this unusual situation and everything we would help you with in person.

I am having a hard time holding myself accountable at home, can the ARC help?

All of us need some outside structure to stay on track, and right now you may need to create some new structures to replace those you had on campus. We can help! Check out the ARC Workshops calendar and look for Accountability Groups, Power Hours, and Motivation Stations. These are opportunities to share your study commitments with other students and to hold one another accountable. It can be very helpful to connect to others, find commonality, and commit to a plan.

I don't understand how to use Zoom for learning; can the ARC help?

Yes. If you want to do a practice Zoom session with an Academic Coach, they would be happy to Zoom with you and review some of its features. You can schedule an appointment through the Academic Coaching webpage under Services. The ARC has also put together materials to help students use Zoom for learning. Check the Tips and Tools page on the ARC website and the ARC Canvas site, or sign up for our mailing list so you can be notified as new tools and workshops come online.

I don't know where to begin. How do I make a schedule at home?

Start by breaking your day into blocks of time for things you need to do, like attend family meals or real-time classes. Here is a link to a blank schedule that you can use to get started. Make a reasonable time to go to sleep and wake up. (If your sleep schedule is off right now, gradually bring it back to one that gives you daylight and the 7-9 hours of sleep most people need.) Create morning and evening routines. Next, think about when you are at your best (usually the morning). Block out “at my best” times for the important tasks that are most difficult or that you would otherwise avoid. Commit to getting these tasks out of the way. Then block off additional time for your other course work. Try tracking yourself for a week to see how much time you need to allot for each course; adjust the schedule as needed. Here is an example schedule showing how one student breaks down their day.

Aim for routines and regularity – consistent small blocks of work and rest are easier to stick to than long bouts of heavy work and time off. Research shows that we tend to learn best with shorter periods of study every day or two rather than long massed study periods. You will also benefit from interleaving subjects (e.g., Subject A for 1 hour, Subject B for 1 hour, then back to Subject A or on to Subject C).

So many assignments and due dates have changed. How can I keep track of everything when so much has changed at once?

Use a system like Google calendar or a paper planner to schedule and update assignments. To make an overall plan, start with a bird's eye view calendar showing the rest of the semester. (See also: Steps for Making a Bird's Eye Plan.) Use your syllabi to write in all assignment due dates. For major projects and papers and exams that require a lot of study, create early deadlines when possible. This helps cover those inevitable unexpected changes to your life or your courses. Then plan a series of steps with interim deadlines (e.g., search for topic, run topic by your professor or TF, create a draft outline, annotate the outline with sources, write a rough draft, etc.). When you set those interim deadlines, it can be easier to work backward from the due date (e.g., start with submit, then proofread and edit, then final draft, etc.). Make it a habit to regularly update your plan. When you do not meet a deadline, make sure to revise your plan so it is set for another day.

I miss being with my friends when I am studying. How can I still do this when we are scattered across the world?

If you are used to parallel studying with your friends (studying next to each other even though you are working on different things), you can still do that remotely. One approach is to email or text another student when you start to study to confirm you are both studying and to share goals. When you have completed the studying goals that you had set or when the block of time that you had designated for studying ends, then you can email or text each other again. Be sure to congratulate one another! For an experience closer to the real thing, set up a virtual meeting with your friend(s) and keep the cameras on throughout your study time. You can find online meeting planners like this one at timeanddateclock.com. Here, you can enter multiple locations and find the times that work best for all of you at once.

I'm back home and my two younger brothers who are in middle and high school are also home. How can I get work done?

This can be a challenge, but there are some ways to make the situation work for all of you. First, create a shared family schedule that shows when everyone will be working versus available to be social, help with chores, etc. Second, note that you are modeling responsibility and a commitment to education when you tell your siblings you will be focused on study at certain times of day. Third, your siblings might have homework too, and you can encourage them to do theirs during some of the time you are working. Finally, offer to do something fun with them when you are done studying. Having planned a time for a break like that adds structure to your day, so it can be helpful to you, too.

How do I prepare for taking exams remotely?

If you have not taken exams using the software your course will be using, make sure to familiarize yourself with the software well ahead of time. Prepare your workspace: gather everything you need to take the exam, organize it neatly, and be sure you have a way to track your time. Do your best to let others living with you know that they should not interrupt you during the exam time and to give them advance notice. Practice creating testing conditions for yourself, so when you are taking the exam, it will seem natural. One benefit of online exams is that you can study under almost exactly the same conditions as you will have on exam day!

What should I do if I do not have internet at home or my internet is weak?

Here is the guidance offered by the Harvard College Dean of Students Office:

If your internet connection is weak or intermittent, there is not much you can do, but there may be some useful adaptations. 

  • Make sure that you shut down all unnecessary applications and close all unnecessary browser tabs. It is also a good idea to restart your computer before joining a class in Zoom.

  • If possible, try to connect with ethernet rather than WIFI. Ethernet connections are often faster and more reliable.

  • If you are sharing your internet with others, try to arrange to have them limit their use during your class meetings, if possible.

  • Zoom is also accessible on mobile devices, so if your internet is not strong, you can connect on your phone.

If you are not able to connect reliably, communicate with the course teaching staff to arrange an alternative way to complete the course work.

If you need to use your phone to Zoom into classes and meetings, check out this ARC handout on Learning Online Using Your Phone.

What should I do if my faculty member is not responding to me?

Like students, faculty are being asked to make big adjustments; they are moving all their teaching online while you are moving all your learning online. Please know that the administration has recommended that faculty be flexible with students. If it has been more than a few days, or the matter is very time-sensitive, try emailing your instructor again or contacting someone else on the course staff, such as a Teaching Fellow or Preceptor. If the matter is very urgent and you have not been able to connect with anyone involved in the teaching of the course, then contact your resident dean.