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Succeed online

Top six things to know when doing an online course

special feature: Welcome Week 2018

Part of a special back to school featuring student voices, student success and important resources available to Memorial University students.

By Courtenay Griffin

The first few weeks of a semester can be an exciting time for students as they begin, or continue, their post-secondary academic career.

While students come armed with varied education, backgrounds and experiences, most enter university life with the intention and desire to succeed.

When it comes to online courses, Memorial’s Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CITL) has a variety of support, resources and tips that can help students achieve their goals.

Here are the top six things to know about learning online.

1. Know where to get support

An array of support, services and resources are available for students learning online.

CITL’s Support Centre provides technical help for online courses and can answer questions related to midterm and final exams. The Support Centre is available seven days a week online, by telephone and in person (ED-1032).

Technical support for online courses is also available at The Commons in the Queen Elizabeth II Library and the Rotunda underneath the memorial tower on the St. John’s campus. Just look for the staff in the red vests.

A young woman with a red vest stands behind the counter smiling.
Staff at The Commons are available for on campus technical support.
Photo: Submitted

“If you have a question with regard to your specific course, it’s best to contact your instructor directly,” suggested Colleen Collett, manager of client relations at CITL. “But if you have a question about Brightspace, or about your midterm or final exam in your online course, please contact our Support Centre and we will happily assist you.”

2. Follow the Weekly Calendar Schedule for Online Courses

Assessments in online courses, such as assignments, quizzes and exams, are often scheduled by the semester week number (i.e. week one, week two, etc.). As the semester progresses, it can be confusing for students to remember which week they are in.

Bookmark CITL’s Weekly Calendar for Online Courses to help stay on track.

3. Bookmark Technical Resources

When learning online, students are exposed to a number of new technologies that they will need to know how to use. CITL’s Technical Resources provides students with a variety of how-to guides to help them through the technical side of learning online – whether they need to navigate their course content in Brightspace, post to a discussion group, upload files or join a web conference session.

4. Use the Semester Startup Guide

Whether a student is new or returning, CITL’s 12-step Semester Startup Guide outlines essential information that will help them get the most out of their online studies. The guide is a checklist of items so that students know to update their mailing address, request academic accommodations if needed, log into their course, contact their instructor and more.

5. Get Started the First Day of Class

The flexibility of online courses is attractive to many students that have busy class schedules, work part time or have other life responsibilities and commitments. But it is important not to let too much time slip away before you log in to your online course.

“Get started the first day of class,” said Ms. Collett. “Review your course syllabus. This will provide you with essential information about your instructor, textbooks and resources, course expectations, how your course will be evaluated and more.”

6. Access Orientation Resources

Before each semester, students new to online learning are contacted and given access to orientation resources that will help them start the semester off right.

These resources provide an introduction to Brightspace, the learning management system used for all courses; an overview of important exam policies and procedures for online courses; and information about online services provided by CITL, the Writing Centre, Memorial University Libraries and the Academic Advising Centre.

A laptop shows the login screen for Brightspace.
Access your online course through Brightspace, at online.mun.ca.

New online students can access the resources by logging into Brightspace and locating the Connect Fall 2018 site. The site also includes information about CITL’s online office hours, which provides students the opportunity to chat with staff and ask questions in real time.

For more information about online learning support, or to contact CITL, please visit citl.mun.ca.

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