Category Archives: Academics

Free Career Planning Tool for NOVA Students

Did you know all NOVA students, staff, and faculty have free access to FOCUS 2, an online, interactive, self-guided career and education planning system that can help you:

  • Select a program/major based on your interests and aspirations
  • Discover occupations matching your personal preferences and attributes
  • Map out your career plans, present and future
  • Make informed career decisions

View a Getting Started with FOCUS 2 handout.

Follow the steps below to begin using FOCUS 2.

  1. Visit NOVA’s Career Services website
  2. Select FOCUS 2
  3. Click FOCUS 2 button
  4. Click REGISTER button
  5. Enter “NOVA” for the access code
  6. Enter your NOVA student e-mail address in the e-mail box
  7. Provide requested information
  8. Check box to acknowledge terms and conditions of system
  9. Click CONTINUE button

Contact Christy Jensen (chjensen@nvcc.edu) if you have any problems accessing the system.

Preparing for your first day

As you are preparing for your fall courses, it is important to keep in mind the importance of attendance and participation. Be mindful of Critical Course Deadlines and course specific deadlines so you don’t miss any assignments and fall behind in your course work.   null

Courses are made available in Blackboard the first day the course is scheduled to begin, or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course begins on Monday, August 21, you may not see your course in Blackboard until that day. If you are scheduled for a later starting ELI course you may not see your course until closer to that start date.

As soon as your class begins, log into Blackboard and explore your virtual classroom. Use this opportunity to locate and review the course syllabus and assignments folder. This will give you a chance to see what you will be responsible for throughout the term. In addition, this will also allow you sufficient time to plan your time appropriately, making certain you will be able to complete your readings, assignments, projects and tests in time for their specified due dates. It is crucial to ensure you have completed and submitted your first assignment prior to the First Assignment Due Date to avoid being administratively withdrawn from your course. 

Logging into Blackboard as soon as the course begins will also give you the opportunity to identify any unexpected issues and provide ample time to ask any questions you might have.

New to online learning at NOVA? Join us for an ELI Orientation Webinar to help you get started!

If you have any questions or you are not sure where to start, you can contact the ELI Student Success Coaching Team at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or Student Services Team at 703-323-3347. We are more than happy to answer your questions, as well as refer you to useful resources and services that will support your online learning experience.

Where are my grades?

You should be reviewing your grades on a regular basis in the My Grades area of Blackboard. Each Blackboard course site has Blackboard Tutorials available to help you navigate. This tutorial will help you monitor your grades in your Blackboard course site.

You can see grades for all of your courses or one course at a time.

To view grades for all of your courses, select the arrow next to your name in the upper-right corner. In the menu, select “My Grades”. You can sort your grades by All Courses or Last Graded. If your work hasn’t been graded, grade status icons appear. Select an item’s title to view details.

To view the grades for the course you’re in, select the “My Grades” link on the course menu or on the Tools page.

Your instructor controls which links appear on the course menu, so if you don’t see if there, click on “Tools” and locate My Grades.

Make sure you are monitoring your grades and your instructors feedback. This is very important to your success in the course.

Once your course ends, check your final grades in your Student Information System (SIS). Your grades will be posted in the “other academics” drop down in your student center.

Tutorial provided by Blackboard Help. Use these tutorials to help you navigate your Blackboard course site. Contact ELI’s IT Helpdesk (24/7) with any questions – 703.764.5051. ELI’s Student Success coaches are available to help you navigate Blackboard. Reach out to them at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or 703.323.3347.

Ten Quick Steps to Email Your Instructor

Need to email your instructor and not sure where to start? These ten easy to follow steps will help you get that email written and the send button hit in no time!4805341351. Use your NOVA student email account to send your email. All correspondence relating to your courses should come from and go to your NOVA email address. Email messages originating from other email addresses may go directly to your instructors SPAM folder and go unnoticed.

2. Make your subject line meaningful. Your instructor likely teaches multiple courses and may even teach on other campuses. Include the course and section number along with a quick description of why you are writing your instructor.
An example might look like this:
Subject: PSY 200-E05W, Question about grade calculations

3. Briefly and politely state the reason you are writing. Be sure to include all of the relevant information pertaining to your question and leave out anything that does not relate directly to the situation.

4. If you are writing your instructor because you have a problem, include a proposed solution in your email. The instructor may or may not agree with your suggestion. Regardless, it does demonstrate to your instructor you are taking the initiative to actively work towards resolving the situation.

5. Sign your email with your complete first and last name along with your student ID number.

6. Read through your email to check for spelling and punctuation errors. Make sure all of your sentences are complete and do not contain any abbreviations or other modified text that is used in text messaging.

7. If your email is lengthy, have a second set of eyes proofread your email for clarity. This will be an opportunity to make sure you have clearly articulated what it is you wanted to say.

8. Send your email.

9. Allow adequate time for a response from your instructor. Many ELI instructors also teach campus based courses so they are not always sitting at their computer in their office. Often you will find information in the syllabus relating to how soon you should expect a response from your instructor.

10. Once you have received a response from your instructor, acknowledge it. A simple “Thank you” may be all that is needed. If your instructor asks you questions in their response to your email, be sure to answer all of them thoroughly.

This post was adapted from www.wikihow.com/Email-a-professor by the ELI Success Coaches to help you develop skills to effectively communicate through email to your instructor for the February focus on communication. ELI Success Coaches can be reached at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or 703.764.5076.

Written by Laura, ELI Success Coach

Understanding your online syllabus

Thoroughly reading your syllabus and addressing questions at the beginning of the course, will help you succeed from the first to the last day of class!null

You will have access to your course the first day the class is scheduled to begin or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course is scheduled to begin later in the summer, check Blackboard closer to that date.

Once you have access to your course in Blackboard, you can start navigating the virtual classroom and get comfortable with the platform. You can start by reading through the online syllabus to get an idea of the course expectations.

Your online course syllabus serves as a blueprint for your course. This is such an important document that to reinforce it, some instructors may require you to complete a syllabus quiz, acknowledging that you have read and understand the important information laid out in the syllabus.

The “overview of assignments” or “course calendar” will be helpful to your success in the course. This section will layout the course schedule and you can use it as a checklist to make sure you don’t miss any assignments. Look ahead to see when the exams will fall so you can plan ahead.

All ELI courses require proctored exams. Make sure you understand what this means for you – whether that is taking exams at a campus testing center, using a testing location in your area, or using ProctorU. Find out more in this past blog post.

Establish a routine. This will help set you up for success for the remainder of the course. Just because you aren’t meeting at specific days and times, doesn’t mean you can’t schedule your time like are have class meetings. Organize your week and make sure you have enough time to take on the courses you have selected.

If you have a concerns or questions about assignments, check your syllabus and you may find the answer. The online course syllabus will help you manage your time by enabling you to map out and plan your projects, assignments and quiz/test dates. In addition to providing your instructor’s contact information and office hours, it might even provide resources to help you study and learn more about your course subject.

ELI offers a video to help you Review Your Online Syllabus.

If you have questions or would like some additional help, the ELI Student Success Coaching Team is here for you. Coaches can be reached at 703.764.5076 or elisuccess@nvcc.edu.

Tips to help you get started!

Below are some tips to help you get started in your ELI classes this summer!

You will have access to your course the first day the class is scheduled to begin or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course is scheduled to begin later in the summer, check back closer to that date. 484765389Be sure to check your Blackboard course site regularly throughout the summer to make sure you don’t miss any course specific deadlines. Check each folder and read announcements from your instructors.

It is important to be aware of Critical Course Deadlines for your courses. In addition, you also want to be aware of course specific deadlines. Get started immediately so you don’t miss any deadlines.

ELI Student Life offers various in-person and virtual events throughout the semester to help connect you to peers, faculty and staff. Join us!

Take advantage of NOVA’s Library Services from your home computer. You can access resources and references from the Library database with your VCCS username and password.

Do you have any general ELI questions? Live Chat (bottom right)  or ELI Hotline – 703.323.3347 is a great option to ask general questions, but remember your instructors are available if you have course specific questions.

Proctor U is an online proctoring service available for some ELI courses. This service is available for some ELI courses and gives you the opportunity to take your exams from your home computer using a web cam, microphone and speakers.

Try using Smarthinking for 24/7 online tutoring.

Checking your Student E-Mail Account is important throughout the semester. You will get updates and announcements from your instructor as well as from ELI. Get in the habit of checking this e-mail.

24/7 Tech Support is available from NOVA by calling 703.764.5051.

ELI offers several webinars throughout the semester to help you succeed. Check out live sessions or request a copy of a recording.

Financial Aid assistance is available 24/7 by calling 1-855-323-3199, by email – FinAidSupport@nvcc.edu or through live chat at the Student Support Center. Questions about financial aid eligibility? Check out the Financial Aid Blog.

Not your first ELI course? What tips would you share with a new student?

Hiding a Course on the My Blackboard Courses Module

Hiding a Course on the My Blackboard Courses Module

Usually courses will disappear from your Blackboard course site once the course has ended and is closed, however, every so often, one may stick around.

If spring courses are cluttering your summer schedule, get organized with this tutorial!

You can hide courses from previous semesters in the My Blackboard Course Module. This does not remove the course from Blackboard, but hides it from view so that you only see the current semester courses when you first login to Blackboard.

 Step 1: Log in to your Blackboard Dashboard and click the gear icon in the top right of the My Courses module.  The icon will not appear until you hover your mouse in that area.bb1

Step 2: Locate the row for the course or courses you would like to hide and clear the check box in the Course Name column.

Step 3:  Be sure all check marks are cleared in that course’s row.bb2

 

 Step 4: Click the Submit button to complete this action.bb3

 

 

If you have any questions, the 24/7 ELI IT Helpdesk is available at 703.764.5051.

First day reminders!

Happy First Day of Classes, ELI Students!

Today’s first day blog is provided by student blogger Rebecca! She has been taking ELI classes for two semesters and has some tips to help new ELI students get started in fall classes.

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’m scrambling to finish a paper by the 5pm deadline. I am just about to submit my paper at 4:55pm but I decide to proofread it one more time. By the time I finish it is a couple minutes after 5pm. Okay, I’ll go submit it now. It’s only two minutes, right? WRONG! As I click on the assignment I am startled to discover that the submission page has disappeared off of blackboard!

Yes, this did actually happened to me last semester. Luckily I emailed the professor and was able to turn in my assignment, although I did lose a lot of points. Don’t let this happen to you!

Online classes are great because they let you have flexibility in your schedule. However without a physical class everyday to remind you what is due, it’s easy to get behind if you don’t pace yourself. My #1 tip for students new to online classes is keep track of your course deadlines and your professor’s policy on deadlines.

Here are five things to look for on your syllabus:

  1. What day of the week and time are assignments due? The day and time of deadlines may vary for different courses. In my experience most classes have Sunday deadlines but the times may vary. For example, last semester one of my courses had a Sunday 5pm deadline, another had a Sunday 11:59pm deadline and another had a Monday 6am deadline. It’s helpful to write deadlines on a calendar (especially if you are taking multiple courses, so you don’t get caught off guard by a busy week)
  2. Are there any midweek deadlines? Once in a while there may be a group project or discussion board posting with a midweek deadline, leaving time later in the week for comments.
  3. Are there strict deadlines? Some professors have strict weekly deadlines while others will accept all work right up until the course end date.
  4. Do exams have to be taken during a certain window? Are exams only available for a limited time? Can you take them early or late?
  5. Does your instructor accept late work? Some instructors will let you turn in work a day or two late if you email them and explain the situation. Other instructors will accept late work but take points off. Others are very strict about deadlines and will not accept work even a minute late.

We’ve all been there: You have a busy week and struggle to find the time. You have last minute computer problems. These things can and will happen. Avoid a stressful situation by learning about your Critical Course Deadlines, course specific deadlines, and professor’s late and grading policy before you are too overwhelmed!

Preparing for your first day

As you are preparing for your summer courses, it is important to keep in mind the importance of attendance and participation. Be mindful of Critical Course Deadlines and course specific deadlines so you don’t miss any assignments and fall behind in your course work.   null

Instructors make courses available in blackboard the first day the course is scheduled to begin, or sometimes a few days in advance. If your course begins on Tuesday, May 16, you may not see your course in Blackboard until that day. If you are scheduled for a later starting ELI course (Monday, May 22 or Monday, June 5) you may not see your course until closer to that start date.

As soon as your class begins, log into Blackboard and explore your virtual classroom. Use this opportunity to locate and review the course syllabus and assignments folder. This will give you a chance to see what you will be responsible for throughout the term. In addition, this will also allow you sufficient time to plan your time appropriately, making certain you will be able to complete your readings, assignments, projects and tests in time for their specified due dates. It is crucial to ensure you have completed and submitted your first assignment prior to the First Assignment Due Date to avoid being administratively withdrawn from your course. 

Logging into Blackboard as soon as the course begins will also give you the opportunity to identify any unexpected issues and provide ample time to ask any questions you might have.

New to online learning at NOVA? Join us for an ELI Orientation Webinar to help you get started!

If you have any questions or you are not sure where to start, you can contact the ELI Student Success Coaching Team at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or Student Services Team at 703-323-3347. We are more than happy to answer your questions, as well as refer you to useful resources and services that will support your online learning experience.

Preparing for an 8-week Summer course

Today’s blog post is written by a former ELI Student when they enrolled in their first summer 8-week course. Summer courses begin Tuesday, May 16, Monday, May 22 and Monday, June 5. Follow this tutorial to search NOVA’s online courses.

I’m enrolling in my first eight-week course this summer. This got me thinking about how it might be different from the sixteen-week format I am more used to. Succeeding in an online course always requires good management of time. I must carefully balance school, work, and personal responsibilities. When the online class is an eight week or six week course, I am thinking that managing these elements will become much more critical.

Summer spring backgound with stack of books and open book and bokeh. Back to school. Open book fanned pages. Copy Space

Since an online sixteen week course should take three hours of coursework per credit each week, an Eight-week online course should take six hours of coursework per credit each week. For a three credit class, that works out to as much as an 18-hour a week part time job! Because of this, I decided to take only one class at a time until I see how I can integrate this workload with my work and social schedule.

I expect that the deadlines will also come much faster. Just eight days into my course, I will already be at the refund deadline, forcing me to decide whether or not I can handle the workload and get the grade I want or to drop the course and try the longer format in the Fall.

Because of this, I’m planning on logging into Blackboard on the course start date and completing the first assignment quickly. I’ll also need to look over the assignments and syllabus and see if I have any questions. Usually, I think for two or three days before I email my instructor, but with this class, I expect that if I have questions, I’ll need to write the instructor immediately—procrastinating even a few days would probably not be a good idea.

I’m really looking forward to the pleasant feel completing the course more quickly. I’ll get to feel the sense of accomplishment which keeps me motivated that much faster. I’m also telling myself I can deal with almost any schedule for two months—so it actually feels much more flexible than the traditional four-month courses. I’ll let you know if my opinion changes once the course actually starts.

How many of you have already taken a six or eight week course? Do you have any advice for me? I would love to know a little more about what to expect!

Want to write for the ELI Student Blog? Share your story? Connect with your peers? Send us a writing sample to get started. Email ELIStuLife@nvcc.edu for more information.