August 24, 2020

First Day: 5 Tips to Make the Most of Day 1

By B&SC News Team

First Day: 5 Tips to Make the Most of Day 1

Even though you’re not showing up in person, how you approach your first day of online learning will set the tone for the semester and your class experience. Here’s what you need to know to put your best virtual foot forward from day one.

Complete Your Orientation Here’s your starting point. Your online orientation will cover all of the basic information you need to be ready for your first day. It will introduce Blackboard, the system your online learning will be based on. You’ll learn about the online bookstore, the library, how to find scholarly documents and more on setting yourself up for success. This should take roughly an hour to an hour and a half. Once you’ve completed orientation, you’ll be ready to log in.

Logging In It’s not just a matter of knowing your login, said Ann Shaul, admissions manager for Bryant & Stratton College Online. The online schedule can be a little confusing for first-time students. Because classes run 7.5 weeks, the full roster doesn’t show up that first day, she said.

“When they get into BSC Learn, they only see two of the four classes,” she said. “We get these calls of, ‘Where are my other classes?’ You won’t see them till the next session.”

Be sure you look at the main course page, said Brandy McDonough, associate dean of instruction at online. Your instructor will likely have an announcement posted. It’s a good place to start every time you log in because that’s where important information will be posted, she said. Two days before week one starts, you can get into the introductory folder, which will include documents like supplemental syllabus, tracking calendar, office hours, course materials, grading structure, late policy and other things you need to know about that specific class, she said.

“When students log in week one, that Wednesday, they’ll have access to lecture materials,” McDonough said. “It’s really important for a student to begin right there with that lecture content.”

Know the Lingo Be sure you know the difference between an address bar (where you type in a URL) and a search bar (where you enter search terms on Google, Yahoo, etc.). Know your computer’s operating system (Windows XP, Windows 8, Windows 7, etc.). If you run into trouble, that will be one of the first questions the help desk attendee will ask, Shaul said. You also need to know your browsers; Blackboard is only supported in Firefox, which you can download for free.

“Definitely terminology is very, very helpful,” Shaul said.

Budgeting Time Shaul suggests you plan to spend 12-15 hours per week on each class, and that you be prepared to start working on the first day.

“That’s super-important,” she said. “People just don’t realize the amount of time it takes, especially for online classes.”

You may find you need more or less time depending on the subject and work flow, but 12-15 hours is a reasonable starting point, she said. Depending on your academic strengths, you may find far more or far less will get the job done, so take note of how quickly you work through that first week. McDonough suggests you plan to hit the books the first part of the week.

“Reading early in the week is very important to set students up for success,” she said. Once the reading is done, you’re in a better position to write and respond to posts, she said.

Be Ready to Work You’ll be expected to start your posts immediately, Shaul said. For most classes, the initial discussion will be some kind of icebreaker. She recommends students write and save a basic introduction that’s about 300 words and describes your background, your interests, your career goals and other basic info. There may be some minor differences in that initial question for different classes, but your mini-bio will come in handy for each session.

“Each instructor will have their own version, but by having that first blurb about yourself, it saves you so much time when you’re logging into classes,” she said.

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