It is important for the online learner to understand that online courses do not come to the student. It is up to the student, to actively access their course, learn how to navigate the course and use their computer, understand important course information, know the expectations and requirements that the instructor has posted, find and adhere to the course schedule and due dates for assignments, acquire all necessary course materials (such as textbooks) prior to the beginning of the semester and login and communicate as required by the instructor. This is quite a bit different from the typical face-to-face course where all of this information is often reviewed in person at the first class meeting. In an online course, these responsibilities lie on the student and without self-direction and motivation right from the start of the semester, the online student may be setting his or herself up for failure.
Below, we have outlined a few tips and strategies you can use to prepare for your online experience. Many of these activities can be completed before your course even opens, so the sooner you begin to prepare, the more successful you will be.
Tips and Strategies
Prepare Your Learning Environment
Prior to the beginning of the semester, you can prepare the space in which you plan to work on your course. Think about what type of environment works best for you. Do you like to work in a quiet place with no distractions? If so, take this into account when planning your workspace. If you are better able to work if there is a bit of background noise, then plan that type of location. The important thing is that you choose an area that works best for you. Make your space comfortable and stock it with items that you will need. Having a dedicated space such as this will help you later on in sticking to a routine. Consider it the equivalent of your face-to-face classroom or the campus library. If there isn’t a suitable environment in which you can work where you reside or work, perhaps a local library would be appropriate. You can still prepare by collecting all items that you will need for your course (such as a laptop, supplies, books, etc.) and keeping them in a bag that is dedicated to your course and ready to go whenever you are.
Learn as Much as You Can About the Online Courses You are Interested in taking at SUNY Broome Community College
There is a wealth of information available to students who are either thinking about taking an online course at SUNY Broome or are already registered for one or more online sections. SUNY Broome’s website has an area that is dedicated to Online Learning called “Online@SUNYBroome”. It can be found by navigating to sunybroome.edu/online. In addition to the Online@SUNYBroome website, individual programs and departments have information available online that is specific to their area. If you have questions regarding an online course that you are thinking about taking… ASK! The Department offering the course or your Advisor should be able to point you in the right direction to get your questions answered.
Make Sure You Are Comfortable With Your Computer and Your Web Browser
This is a very important step to complete prior to the start of a semester. Once a course begins, the majority of your time will be taken by the work in the course. If you also need to learn how to use your computer and need to update, or change computer settings to work with your online course, it may lead to a very frustrating situation for you. As soon as your account is created and you are able to log in to the Learning Management System (which typically occurs prior to the course becoming available to you) you should take advantage of the tools which allow you to check your browser for compatibility with the online system used at the college and make adjustments as necessary before the start of the semester. This information can also be found at the Online@SUNYBroome Website.
Purchase Your Textbooks and Any Other Required Materials
Even though your course is online, you most likely will need to also purchase a textbook(s). A listing of the textbooks required for a particular section of a course can be found on the SUNY Broome’s Bookstore website (www.sunybroomeshop.com). Online courses are often very fast-paced and require the use of the textbook and/or other materials on the first day of class.
Locate Campus Services That You Will Be Needing
The SUNY Broome website contains an abundance of information for both on-campus and online students. It is important to become acquainted with the services you will be needing on campus such as the Library, Registrar’s office and other Student Services.
Orient Yourself to the Learning Management System
SUNY Broome’s Learning Management System, currently Blackboard Learn, contains a link to the SUNY Online Student Orientation. This Orientation serves as a resource to assist you in learning how to navigate an online course, use the various tools within Blackboard, get you up to speed with what online learning is all about, learn the skills needed for success, and show you where to find help. You do not need to be a current online student, or even have a username and password to access this resource. Keep in mind that while your actual course may look a bit different from the orientation, you will still get the look and feel of an online course and be able to practice the skills you will need.
Note: Many online courses at SUNY Broome require students to complete the SUNY Online Student Orientation and pass an Orientation quiz prior to gaining access to the content within the course.
Familiarize Yourself With the Course Syllabus, Layout and Requirements
As soon as you have access to your online course the most important thing you need to do first is to read and study any Course Information that the instructor has posted. The Course Information typically contains the Course Syllabus, Course Assignment Schedule and other information regarding the expectations in your section. It is imperative that you read and understand all of these documents prior to accessing the course content material. The last thing that you want to do is to jump in blindly without an understanding of what your instructor expects of you. You want to make sure to have the most positive experience in the course.