1. Estimate the time you should spend on work for the class. A good rule of thumb is to spend at least 2-3 hours of work per credit hour. For example, a 3-credit course would encourage at least 6 hours of work outside of class time. 
  2. Identify when and how you are most productive. Are you a morning person or prefer working in the afternoon? Do you work best at home or in the library?
  3. Identify any important times or dates in your course by looking at the syllabus and reviewing the online content. Pay specific attention to due dates or deadlines for regular submissions.
  4. Schedule your personal "class time" based on the anticipated hours, important class deadlines, and your personal preferences.

You are taking a 4-credit hybrid course that meets on Tuesday nights for 2 hours. Assignments are traditionally due on Monday by 5:00 pm. Online exams take place on Thursday afternoons. You budget 8 hours a week for reading, homework, studying, and meeting with a tutor/professor. You work best in the late morning, so you plan to work on the following schedule:
  • Tuesday from 10am-12pm (finishing reading/homework)
  • Wednesday from 10am-12pm (doing class reading or watching lecture videos)
  • Thursday from 10am-12pm (with a tutor or preparing for exam)
  • Sunday from 8pm-10pm (doing homework)

Read through the boxes below for more information on Getting Started with an online or hybrid course.

  • Communication

    Hybrid and online courses require more communication between students and instructors than on-ground classes. This communication may come through email, Announcements, comments, or other message formats. In order to be sure that you submit assignments correctly and on-time, you should be reading your email at least every 24 hours. 

    You should feel comfortable emailing your professor with any kind of question related to class. Professors of online/hybrid classes are encouraged to be more available to students through email than on-ground classes. If you cannot find the answer to a question, emailing the professor is most likely your best action. However small the question may be, it is still important to address the email formally and to sign your name. 

  • Lectures

    All online classes and some hybrid classes will have some form of lectures on Blackboard. These lectures may be done in a variety of ways but will often look like a video. Professors expect you to watch these video lectures just as if you were in a classroom. An online lecture is great because you can pause, rewind, and replay parts of a lecture you did not understand the first time you saw it.

    It is recommended that you set regular times to watch lectures in a place that you will not be distracted. Some students like watching lectures in their room, while others go to a library or cafe to help them focus. Watching lectures is not an optional part of a hybrid/online class just like skipping class is not an option with an in-person class.

    You may be tempted to skip a lecture, do other work with a lecture playing in the background, or skip through parts of the lecture. If you are distracted in any way, you will miss important information just as if you were distracted in class. A regular location and time helps prevent distractions.

    An online/hybrid class allows you to watch class lectures anywhere at any time of the day...but you still have to watch them!

  • Homework

    Homework is an important learning tool that can be used in a variety of ways. To succeed in your online/hybrid class, completing homework fully and on-time ensures that you learn the most and remember the most once the class is complete. Being very aware of homework expectations and due dates will make sure that you get high marks and learn the best.

    Some homework assignments in your class may be done directly in the Blackboard window while other homework assignments will require you to attach a particular document. Before you start a homework assignment, make sure that you are completing the assignment in the correct format. Professors often specify how an assignment should be submitted so they can grade it appropriately. Sometimes a program on your computer will save as a file that your professor cannot open. Do not risk getting a 0 on an assignment because you did not save your essay in a specific format!

    Due dates and times are also important in online/hybrid classes. At the start of the semester, be sure to write major homework due dates in your planner/calendar to make sure your assignments are turned in on time. Often a professor will be specific with the time an assignment is due- check whether it is an AM or PM due time. A due date does not mean that you should submit your assignment close to that date. It is encouraged to submit your assignments early. All you need is one unexpected technical failure and suddenly you lose credit because you cannot submit an assignment on time.

  • Tests and Quizes

    Tests and quizzes are usually stressful for on-ground classes. Online/hybrid classes may also be stressful, but understanding the format for an online test or quiz makes the evaluation a lot less stressful. Professors will often be clear regarding expectations on these evaluations but if you are confused then you should contact the professor before taking the quiz or exam. Good questions to ask are:

    • Is the quiz/exam timed?
    • Is the quiz/exam open-book or open-notes?
    • How much of my grade is affected by this quiz/test?
    • Do I have to complete the quiz/exam in one sitting or can I save my work?

    Study for your quiz/exam just like any other evaluation on-ground. Utilize tutors in the Center for Learning and Academic Success, set up study groups with students in the class, use flashcards to memorize content, etc. Do not assume that since a professor is not standing in the same room as you that the exam will be any easier than an on-ground exam...but at least you can wear pajamas while you take it.

  • Discussion Boards

    Some professors like to use the Discussion Board feature of Blackboard. The Discussion Board is a web forum where you can post, comment, and respond to other students in the class (or the professor). Professors who typically use the Discussion Board will often specify how many posts, the length of posts, and the number of follow-up comments. If you are unclear about the expectations of the Discussion Board, you should contact the professor and clarify.

    A Discussion Board will begin with a Forum topic, most likely set by the professor. In a Forum, people create Threads. Threads often have a central response or topic. In a Thread you can reply, quote, or email the author. When using the Discussion Board, be sure that you are supposed to create a Thread or Reply to a Thread.

    If you are making a long Discussion Board post (a thread or a reply), it is highly suggested that you write the response in your own word processor software (like Microsoft Word) just in case you accidentally close the window or click the Back button. You can then copy-paste the text from the word processor into the text box.