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More classes have moved online because of COVID-19 – including many classes at MedQuest College. Some students love the convenience and flexibility of online classes – but other students are intimidated – especially if they have children at home. 

Babies and toddler aren’t good at remembering to be quiet during class – and older kids may be needing help with their own online learning! 

MedQuest Dental Assisting Instructor Heather McIlvoy understands – she’s facing the same challenges. She has five children, including a 3-month-old who was born during the pandemic. 

“We know it can be hard for students who are also parents – because it’s hard for the teachers as well!” she said. “Every faculty member at MedQuest College understands that students are facing unusual challenges. We are here to help!”

Heather sees students valiantly trying to focus on their class while young children play in the room behind them.  In her own experience, her internet service wasn’t initially strong enough to handle her classes and her children’s classes at the same time. (She has since upgraded.) 

“It’s important to be realistic about what is and isn’t possible,” Heather said. “Is taking some classes online ideal? Maybe not for everyone. But it’s not nearly as bad as delaying your dreams because of COVID-19. Better skills mean better jobs – and that’s good for your whole family.”

Tips to make online easier for everyone

  1. Don’t feel guilty about the time you need to spend on school.  You are going to school to help make a better life for you and your children. In the long run, they will benefit from you having a degree or certificate.  
  2. Make class time fun for them too. If you can save a favorite TV show or movie and allow them to watch it only during your classes, they will look forward to your classes and be more likely to stay quiet. 
  3. Mute when you can, don’t worry when you can’t. Background noise can cause distracting echoes and sounds on a call, so if your kids are making a little noise, go ahead and mute your microphone. But don’t hesitate to unmute to ask a question. Everyone will understand. Your question is important!
  4. Take advantage of technology. Many teachers record classes. It’s ok to say: “my baby was so fussy during that class. Can I get a link to watch it again while she is asleep?” 
  5. Talk to your teachers. This is always good advice, even for in-person questions. There’s no such thing as bad questions and we all want our students to succeed. It’s ok to reach out via email, or during office hours. We always want to help. 

Online learning can still be hands-on

Online learning can sound intimidating to some people – especially if they are interested in a hands-on career like healthcare. 

But at MedQuest, Heather says, they have worked hard to find safe ways for students to get the hands-on instruction they need. This means you may attend routine classes online but come on to campus – wearing a mask and socially distanced – for hands-on practice with the equipment. 

Heather said that in the online classes she often uses videos to show dental techniques – and students have said they actually prefer that to watching her in the classroom. The camera used in making the video is better positioned to capture key moments than they would be in the classroom. 

In a recent class, Heather was explaining things like the proper positioning of the light – don’t put it too close to the dental patient, because the light is very bright and hot. That’s the sort of tip that is good to talk about online, before you actually go in and start using the equipment. 

At MedQuest, they have high tech mannequins and other equipment that students learn on before touching real people.  

“We will make sure you’re ready for your next career,” Heather said.