Determine your routine and create your study space
Your routine for the course can be whatever is most conducive for you accomplishing work. Determine when the best time is for you to accomplish the online coursework. Is it at the beginning of the day, middle, or end? Create a schedule when you will work on the course each day and each week. Once you find what works for you, keep it consistent to build a routine that fits with your lifestyle. Create a designated study and work space in your home.
Turn off email, social media, and news feeds while you are working on class work. These will only slow you down and interrupt your progress. If you have 10 minutes between classes, use that time to check messages and news as you wish.
Designate offline time to avoid screen fatigue
Read a book, bake some cookies, get fresh air (with social distance), play a board game. If you are online non-stop you will become less productive and potentially more irritable.
Stay connected to other people
While it is important to maintain "social distancing” for public health reasons right now, that does not mean you need to be socially isolated. If you are in your own apartment, make sure you are checking in with family and friends regularly. If you are at your parents’ home, set up a group chat with school friends. Go to virtual office hours if your instructor has them. If you, or someone you know, are feeling stressed, down, or overwhelmed, we have support for you that is free, confidential and available 24/7. West Virginia Residents, text WVU to 741741 and reach a live, trained crisis counselor. Non-West Virginia Residents, call the Student Support Program at 866-743-7732 (24/7) or download the My SSP app and to use the text chat or call options.
Keep track of your assignments and due dates and prepare to stay informed and connected
Utilizing course notifications is a key component in staying informed and keeping track of assignments. You can also utilize a planner, calendar and reminders through your phone to make sure that you have a high awareness of when assignments are due. Note that these may change as the situation evolves and as we all adapt to new ways of delivering course materials. If you have big projects (like a thesis or term paper), set your own internal deadlines and track your progress.
Be strategic about course readings and virtual lectures
Reading for online courses should be structured just as a face-to-face course would be in terms of completing the readings before class (virtual) or an assignment is due. A strategy that can be helpful for retaining the information that you read is to take notes. Your notes can guide you later in your discussion posts and could include questions you had along the way.
As for virtual lectures, take notes just as you would during face to face classes.
Stay in touch with your instructor
Just because you are not in a face-to-face setting with the course instructor 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 a question or problem arises you can reach out to the instructor.
Give ample time for online exams and quizzes
With the online courses that require online exams, it’s vital to set aside the proper amount of time to take the exam. Given the uncertainty of technology, plan to allow yourself plenty of time to log into eCampus. If there is a textbook that you use during the exam, it is extremely beneficial to familiarize yourself with the text so that you know where to search for answers, which will also help you budget your time.
Ask for help
Know where to ask for help. The Getting Help page is a great reference and will connect you to the information you may need.
Online courseware tips
Prepare to stay informed and connected
It is your responsibility to check your e-mail and/or eCampus about announcements or matters related with this 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 email alerts for Discussion Posts
- Download the Blackboard Mobile App
- Keep track of Grades
Locate notifications via course home page and notifications dashboard
View notifications for a single course
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.
View notifications for all of your courses
The Notifications Dashboard is one way you can view notifications for all of the courses you're enrolled in (if you are enrolled in more than one course). To access 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.
Check out the 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.
Set up your course calendar with an external calendar application
If you use an external calendar application, such as Google calendar, you can get an iCal URL to import your course calendar. You can 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 dynamically with new course calendar events. (Note: events may take up to 24 hours to appear in your external calendar.)
Pay attention to course announcements
Announcements are messages from your instructor that contain important information. Many instructors send at least one announcement a week (usually to introduce a new lesson, provide feedback, 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, many times instructors will send a copy of announcements via student email. Be sure to check your WVU email account regularly for announcement notifications.
Subscribe to email alerts for discussion posts
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'll 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.
Download the Blackboard Mobile App
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 (instructor has to create the menu link).
- Access Global Navigation Menu (upper right corner) and select the My Grades icon.
Need help? Access Student Grades Help for more information.
Some of the content in this document is adapted from Penn State University’s Dutton Institute in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.