Become an online class master! 

  1. Take steps to familiarize yourself with online course tools. For online courses, you’ll probably be using Blackboard to access your course content. Additionally, you may be using a video conferencing tool to meet with your instructor or classmates. Check out the free resources listed here, specifically the virtual campus welcome session and online learning bootcamp practice course. 
Photo Credit: Adam Atkinson

2. Communicate with your instructor. If you’re having trouble with a course or just want to get to know your instructor better, reach out to them via email or take advantage of their office hours. Your instructor will be available for office hours (phone and/or video) during scheduled times each week. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, seek clarity, or ask about college support services. 

Photo Credit: Randy Monceaux

3. Read instructions carefully. Your instructors might send out weekly announcements through email or Blackboard. They might include weekly checklists for you to follow. However they prefer to communicate class expectations to you, it is very important that you take your time to review instructions so that you can complete coursework correctly. If you are unclear on instructions, contact your instructor for clarity. Checking your student email is very important. Helpful email tutorials are available here.

4. Manage your time. Plan appropriate time to complete work and meet deadlines. Begin by reviewing your course’s syllabus and assignment schedule for the semester. This will help you anticipate exams and big assignments. At the start of each week, take note of any upcoming deadlines. Create a to-do list (in whatever way you prefer – pencil and paper, calendar app on your phone, set alarms on your phone, etc.). Plan out time during the week where you will spend time on your coursework. Try not to wait until the last minute to start assignments. If you do this and a problem comes up, you’ll be giving yourself little time to seek assistance. Rather than try to complete all of your readings and assignments in one sitting, break up your weekly coursework into more manageable pieces. This will help you to absorb information better. 

5. Take advantage of available services. Your courses aren’t the only thing that are online! Did you know that helpful resources including the LibraryTutoring from the Learning CenterBlackboard Help, and Career Services are available online, too? Getting assistance from these resources can help you improve your course performance and student experience.

Photo Credit: Randy Monceaux

6. Establish a productive study space. When possible, complete your coursework in a space that helps you focus. Everyone has different preferences but many people benefit from a quiet space that is free of distractions. You’ll also want to keep all of your supplies handy including textbooks, class notes, notebooks, etc. Try to keep things organized so that you can spend more time completing your work and less time searching for supplies. If needed, utilize campus computer labs or WiFi

7. Save early and often. You’ll be working hard on assignments for your online courses. Make sure to save progress often while working on your computer. You might consider typing your drafts in your free web-based Microsoft Office 365 account that automatically saves content for you.

Photo Credit: Randy Monceaux

8. Get to know your classmates. It’s not unusual for an online course to feature group projects or frequent discussion board activities. These are opportunities for you to get to know your classmates and learn together. Every student brings different perspectives to the course. Don’t underestimate what you can learn from your peers. You might even consider starting virtual study groups to help prepare for exams! 

For more tips and information, check out  NCC’s Virtual Campus web page for current students and the Virtual Campus YouTube Channel. Contact the Office of Online Learning by calling 610-332-6089 or emailing OnlineLearning@northampton.edu.