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Tips for Students for Online Success

WVU Online wants your distance learning experience at West Virginia University to be a positive and successful one. We've put together some tips for keeping up your momentum when you've got so many other things competing for your time and energy. Take a deep breath, and remember, you've got this.

1. Schedule the same time each week to do your work.

Schedule the same time to work on your course each week and keep it consistent in order to build a routine that fits your lifestyle.

2. Determine your routine.

Your routine for the course should be whatever works best for you. Online course assignments are often due at the same time each week, which will help you come up with a schedule for completing your assignments.

3. Find your peak productivity time.

Are you a morning person? Or do you work best in the late afternoon or evening? You should do your online work at the time when you are the most productive, whatever time of day that is.

4. Keep track of your assignments; stay informed and connected.

Utilizing course notifications is a key component for staying informed and keeping track of assignments. You can also use a planner, calendar, and reminders on your phone to make sure that you know exactly when assignments are due for the course.

5. Be strategic about course readings.

Reading for online courses should be structured the same way as you would do them for a face-to-face course. Make sure you have plenty of time to complete them before any discussions or assignments are due. A helpful strategy for retaining information is to take notes as you read. Your notes will guide you later in your discussion posts and you can add any questions you may have had while doing the reading.

6. Stay in touch with your instructor.

Just because you are not in a face-to-face setting with the course instructor, that does not mean they are less available. You can find your instructor's contact information in the course syllabus. Locate this information ahead of time, so that when any question or problem arises you can be in touch with your instructor quickly.

7. Schedule ample time for online exams and quizzes.

When an online course requires that you take an online exam, it’s vital to set aside the proper amount of time to take the exam. Given the uncertainty of technology, you should allow yourself plenty of time to log into eCampus. If there is a textbook that you need to use during the exam, be sure to familiarize yourself with the text ahead of time, so that you know where to search for answers. This will also help you budget your time.

8. Ask for help.

Ask for guidance when you need clarification about anything in your online course. The course will have a Help page as a reference.

9. Check in with your online course every day.

It is your responsibility to check your e-mail and/or eCampus about announcements or matters related with your online course at least once per day. This will vary from course to course, but there are a few things you can do to help stay as informed and connected as possible while taking your course in an online format:

  • Locate Notifications via Course Home Page and Notifications Dashboard
  • Check out the Course Calendar
  • Pay attention to Course Announcements
  • Subscribe to Discussions
  • Download the Blackboard Mobile App
  • Keep track of Grades

Course Home Page and Notifications Dashboard

The Course Home Page will keep you up to date by displaying announcements, the latest discussion posts, and messages for a single course. The To Do section provides a chronological listing of upcoming due dates. This section is divided into What's Past Due and What's Due. Use this information as the launching point for your daily coursework. The What's Past Due area displays any test, assignment, or survey that has passed its due date with no submission. The What's Due area displays information about any test, assignment, or survey that contains a due date.

The Notifications Dashboard is one way you may be able to view notifications for all of the courses you're enrolled in (if you are enrolled in more than one course). To access the The My Blackboard Tool Notifications, locate the Global Navigation Menu in the top right-hand corner of eCampus. Look for an arrow next to your name. Select the arrow to access My Blackboard Tool Notifications for the Notifications Dashboard.

Course calendar

Course calendar events appear to students and usually include due dates for assignments. The use of the Calendar will vary from instructor to instructor.

Your calendar can be viewed by the day, week, or month. You can access the Course Calendar in some courses via the Calendar link in the course main menu or from the My Blackboard Tool menu from the Global Navigation Menu in the upper right corner of eCampus.

If you use an external calendar application, such as Google calendar, you can get an iCal URL to import your course calendar. Find the option to "Get External Calendar Link" below the list of your course calendars.

After the course iCal URL is set up in an external calendar, it is updated automatically with new course calendar events. (Note: Events may take up to 24 hours to appear in your external calendar.)

Announcements: Important & time-sensitive information

Announcements are messages from your instructor that contain important information. Many instructors send at least one announcement each week (usually to introduce a new module, provide feedback, and to send out other pertinent information quickly and broadly).

You can easily view course announcements via the Course Home Page and/or if your instructor has enabled an Announcements link in the course main menu. In addition, instructors will often send a copy of announcements to your student email. Be sure to check your WVU email account regularly for announcement notifications.

Discussion Posts: Subscribe to email alerts

If enabled by your instructor, you can subscribe to email alerts to know when new Discussion Posts are made. Your instructor chooses if the alerts are for posts made at the forum or thread level. Be sure to check your WVU email account regularly for Discussion Post notifications.

  • When the forum email subscription feature is enabled, select Subscribe at the top of the page. You will receive emails when new posts are made to the forum.
  • When the thread email subscription feature is enabled, select one or more thread check boxes and select Subscribe in the Thread Actions menu. You'll receive emails when new posts are made to the selected threads.

Blackboard Mobile App: Mobile access and push notifications

The Blackboard Mobile App is a great way to take your courses on the go. In addition to viewing content and participating in courses, you can enable push notifications on your mobile device and receive notifications for new content items, courses, test availability, announcements, graded items, and due/overdue items.

Need help? Visit the eCampus Blackboard App for Students page for directions on downloading the app and other support information.

Keep track of grades

You can access your grades link from two places:

  • Select My Grades on the left main course menu. Your instructor has to create the Access Global Navigation Menu (upper right corner) and select the My Grades icon.
  • Need help? Access Blackboard Student Grades Help for more information.