Learning Online

What is expected of an online student?
You should be:

  • Self-motivated
  • A good reader
  • Comfortable communicating in writing
  • Self-disciplined
  • Efficient in time management

How much time should I devote to My Online Class?
Time Management is a huge factor in online success:

  • Block out time to do your online class.
  • Establish a regular class time to keep just like attending a campus class.
  • Remember, you should be reserving the time equivalent to that time you would spend in class plus the study time outside of class.
  • ALWAYS, start on your work early in case of a computer problem—don’t wait until the last minute.

What Computer Skills do I need?

  • Send and receive email using MCC's email account
  • Send attachments with an email
  • View, save, and print attachments to an email
  • Download files, if necessary
  • Upload files, if necessary (for example, to the Digital Dropbox or Assignment window)
  • Navigate the web using basic browser methods
  • Post and reply to discussion threads
  • Use basic word processing skills
  • Save in different file formats (such as .rtf)

In addition to Computer Skills, students are expected to apply text etiquette:
The majority of online students and instructors use email, discussion forums and chat to communicate. Please keep these universal netiquette policies in mind:

  • Check your spelling – man instructors take spelling and grammar into account when grading.
  • Do not use texting lingo or abbreviations.
  • Follow the specific instructor's directions regarding subject lines and attachments.
  • Write complete sentences when sending an email message.
  • Don't use all CAPITAL LETTERS, there is no need to yell…
  • Again, check your spelling and do not use texting abbreviations.
  • Be courteous, and never use offensive language.
  • Sign your email messages.
  • Be careful what you include in your messages; sometimes email can be delivered to the wrong person.
  • Double check your humor and tone before hitting the "Send" button.
  • Again, check your spelling and do not use texting abbreviations.

How Online Courses are structured.
Most Garrett College Courses start on the first day of the semester. They are set up in a time-structured pattern. Most online courses go by a weekly calendar, much like traditional courses. Test will be opened on a specified date and time and close on a specified date and time.

How do I begin?
All instructors teaching online and hybrid classes have different start-up procedures. Some require an on-campus orientation; some require that you, the student email him or her, once registered; some require that you wait for their email providing you with step-by-step instructions for beginning.

Instructors will let you know in one of several ways:

  • (1) check your Garrett College student email account every day as many instructors send you email with beginning instructions; or
  • (2) log in to Blackboard and look for an announcement from your instructor. If you are not sure, contact your instructor.

Remember, if you are taking a course hosted by another institution, that institution will send you login information and instructions.

Myths about online courses.

  • They are easier—this is NOT TRUE. Online classes are demanding; they require that students be active learners: seek answers to questions, be proactive, and manage self-discipline.
  • You spend less time—this is NOT TRUE. In many cases, you will spend more time as there is a need to assimilate more information on an individual basis. Vital to a successful online learning experience is the ability to balance responsibilities, both within and beyond your course. Knowing how to set priorities is key to getting the greatest benefit from your online educational experience. Find out before or as the course begins exactly what work is required of you, and determine if you can keep up with the work. Do not hesitate to ask for advice or help from your instructor or the tutoring center. (See the section above on How Much Time Should I Devote to My Online Class)
  • Due dates are anytime—this is NOT TRUE. Most online instructors have due dates! Grades are often determined by due dates, and points are reduced for late assignments. Make sure you know the due dates at the beginning of your class, and keep a calendar.
  • All online classes follow the same structure and Blackboard menu—this is NOT TRUE. Every instructor has a different agenda, a different teaching style, and a different “look” to the Blackboard classroom. You will need to visit your virtual classroom often, acquire the feel of the navigation, and feel comfortable with the classroom environment.
  • There is no student-to-student interaction—this may NOT BE TRUE. Many instructors provide a Discussion Board where students actively participate on a regular basis. In many classes, these student postings are graded; some are mandated without a grade; and some are voluntary for bonus points.

What Online Instructors Say About Taking Online Classes--Their Advice

Have Integrity—respect the Student Code of Conduct. Do not attempt to cheat. Believe it or not, it is easier to detect and investigate cheating with an online class. Because instructors do not physically see students on a regular basis, they are more inclined to check for and investigate suspicious activities on a regular basis.

Check your EMAIL DAILY: http://mail.students.garrettcollege.edu/ -- this is how your instructor and the College communicate with you.

Check your Blackboard Course for Announcements DAILY.

Have a BACKUP PLAN—most instructors have due dates for assignments and quizzes. If you have a computer problem, it is your responsibility to have a back-up plan. Find out ahead of time if you can use a friend or family member’s computer in case you have problems with yours.

Don’t be a dropout statistic--work on solving any start-up problems with email, Bb logins, course due dates, and computer requirement questions immediately. Those students who don’t get a head start on the course and fall behind at the beginning are the ones who lose out and often drop the course.

Attend class--although virtual, class attendance is important; and your presence in the form of visiting and participating is expected. Instructors are able to "see" when and how often you are visiting your classroom.

Know yourself and your learning style—think about how you approach new learning situations. Evaluating your own skills and preferences will help you select the type of learning that best fits your learning goals.

Pay attention to file formats—when turning in work, make sure you know what file formats and file naming protocols are acceptable; your instructor provides you with this information.

Do not procrastinate! - you may have questions for your instructor—waiting until the last minute to ask for help doesn't work. It is often valuable for students to devote scheduled blocks of time throughout the week for their online course, just like you would if you came to campus for a face-to-face course.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking an Online Class


  • They are convenient; within the due dates established for a course, you can work at your own pace and on your schedule.
  • Flexibility--You can devote time to your family.
  • Online classes can be fun!
  • As a result of taking online courses, you acquire computer skills that can be used in a professional career and that can enhance any portfolio or resume.
  • Save on fuel.


  • There is No regular face-to-face interaction with the instructor.
  • There is No regular face-to-face interaction with other students.
  • There are No guaranteed immediate answers to questions.
  • On-campus testing may be required.

Communication is key.
Just because a class is online doesn't mean you're on your own. Never hesitate at asking your instructor questions. Just like in traditional classes, help is available, but you won't get help unless you ask. Don't be shy about asking technical questions that relate to the class, especially if this is your first time taking an online course. Many people are confused by new technology at first, and your instructor will expect these kinds of questions.

Online courses have discussion forums, chat and email allowing communication with the instructor and other students. It's in your best interest to use all of these. Many instructors grade forum discussions and expect you to communicate with the through email on a regular basis. For one thing, this is a good way to ask questions. In addition, the feeling that you're part of a class and not totally on your own can help you stay motivated to keep on track.

Learning how to Use Blackboard

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