Category Archives: Student Success

How is online learning different from on-campus courses?

Hope everyone is having a great first week! We want to point out some of the differences between online through ELI and on-campus courses at NOVA.

  • Format
  • Technology
  • Time Required

Although online learning and on-campus courses cover the same content, the format is different. ELI courses are flexible, with stated deadlines, meaning, you can work on your course at any point throughout the week, but will need to meet weekly or even mid-weekly due dates. ELI requires proctored exams to be completed within the stated course deadlines. Some courses may also be accelerated with the instructor’s permission.

Technology provides content and interaction. ELI courses use Blackboard as the course management system to communicate and facilitate class discussions. Students are required to use their VCCS student email account to communicate with the instructor.

Online learning courses usually require at least as much time as you would spend taking a campus-based course. You should plan to study at least 2-3 hours a week for each credit. In other words, for a 16-week, three-credit course, you would study 6-9 hours per week. For 12 or 8-week courses, more time would need to be scheduled to complete your requirements. When you compare this time with what you spend in class and studying outside of class, it is about the same.

Weekly ScheduleHere is a chart that illustrates the general amount of time per week you should expect to study per credit hour based on the course length. For example, if you enroll in an 8-week, 3-credit class, you can expect to spend 12-18 hours per week studying for this class. In general, the shorter the class length (8, 10, 12, or 16-week), the more hours of study time you can expect to spend per week per credit. (Click on chart to enlarge picture)We encourage you to participate in an ELI Orientation to help as you are getting started in your first online course. You can view short videos from Blackboard to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

For more information about getting started at ELI, please email elisuccess@nvcc.edu or call 703.764.5076. Have a question, but not sure who to ask? Start with a Success Coach!

On your first day

Welcome to the Extended Learning Institute (ELI) at NOVA! ELI is the online division at NOVA. All ELI courses are housed in Blackboard. We have provided tips to get off to a great start and establish a routine early in the semester! Let us know if you have any questions.

  1. Log in to your My NOVA account using your VCCS username and password.
  2. Select “Blackboard Learn” from the My Tools Section.
  3. Find your courses in the “My Blackboard Courses” section and enter each course site.
  4. Read the course syllabus in detail. Make sure you are comfortable with the pace of the course.
  5. Get started on your first week’s assignments. You must complete the first assignment by the assigned deadline to avoid being administratively dropped from the course for non-participation.
  6. Establish a Routine! All online classes, regardless of session length, are based on the full 16-week course material; 12, 10, 8 and 6 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.
  7. Plan Ahead! All online classes require proctored exams or assignments. Plan ahead for your proctored exams so you don’t miss any deadlines. Check your course syllabus and review testing policies.
  8. Let ELI staff know if you have any questions.

Review additional resources for logging into Blackboard and navigating Blackboard can be found on NOVA’s website. As well as additional Blackboard tutorials in your course site.

If you need assistance locating helpful study resources, getting started strategies, or any general ELI questions contact the ELI Student Services Team at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or  703.323.3347.

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.

Join us for an ELI Orientation Webinar

Are you enrolled in your first online learning course this fall? Or, have you taken an online course previously and want to ensure that you are headed in the right direction? Do you have any questions about using Blackboard to complete your ELI course? A great place to start is with the ELI Orientation webinar. 463461567A webinar is a live, online instruction session. You can participate in a webinar from any computer or mobile device with Internet access and speakers. A microphone is not required as we will use a text chat for all questions. Participation in all webinars offered through ELI is free, but registration is required.

Register for a live session or request a copy of the recording on the ELI Webinar webpage.

We are offering live sessions on the following dates:

Thursday, August 3, 2017 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm

Thursday, August 10, 2017 – 12:15 – 1:15 pm

Wednesday, August 16, 2017 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm (Captions Available)

Saturday, August 19, 2017 -10:30 – 11:30 am (Captions Available)

Monday, August 21, 2017 – 12:15 – 1:15 pm

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 – 6:30 – 7:30 pm

The ELI Orientation webinar is a live, one hour online instruction session that focuses on getting started in your ELI courses, navigating your Blackboard course site, identifying tips for success, and highlighting student support services. This webinar is geared towards students already enrolled in courses and will not cover the registration process. During the webinar, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you have before you start your course.

The ELI Orientation will cover an overview of navigating your Blakcboard Course Site. Courses are made available in Blackboard on the course start date or sometimes a few days in advance. If you haven’t used Blackboard in the past, you may be interested in some short videos to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, etc.

This webinar will not satisfy the Student Orientation requirement for the Start Strong Policy at NOVA. If this is your first time in college, age 17-14 – NOVA’s new student orientation is required before enrolling in NOVA courses.

Connect with ELI on Facebook and Twitter for tips for success in your online courses. ELI Student Success Coaches are available for any questions as you are getting started. Reach out to them at ELISuccess@nvcc.edu or 703.764.5076.

Studying for Finals? Consider this 4-day study plan!

Final exams and final projects are quickly approaching in your summer term courses! Follow us on the ELIfe Social Media channels for tips for successful finals prep. We are on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The ELI Success Coaching Team is here to help support you and provide study tips. You can contact them at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or call 703.764.5076.

Studying for an Exam Day 1: Communicate with Your Instructor, Find a Study Partner and Organize

1.    Ask your instructor what type of test it will be. Multiple choice? Essay? That will make a difference in how you prepare.

2.    Ask your instructor for a review sheet/study guide if he/she has not already given you one.

3.    Find a study partner — set up dates to meet to include the night before the test if possible – even via phone/Facebook/Skype.

4.    Print and organize your notes, old quizzes, textbook, assignments and handouts from the units being tested.

When Studying:

1.    Turn off or silence any distractions (for example: cell phone, TV, instant messenger, etc.)

2.    Organize handouts, past tests, and other information according to dates. Make note of anything you are missing. (Where’s the vocab quiz from chapter 2?) Pay special attention to the questions that you missed and spend extra time studying those questions.

3.    Rewrite or type your notes. Creating an outline of the information you need to know will help you understand how the material covered in the class is related.

4.    Review the material you have. Go through the review sheet to determine what material will be covered. Read through your quizzes/handouts/notes and study questions from your book’s chapters.

Studying for a Test Day 2: Course Review, Review and Apply the Material to Better Understand 

1.    Turn off or silence any distractions.

2.    Communicate with your instructor to clarify areas you didn’t understand and request any missing items.

3.    Ask if there will be a review before the test and continue to review on your own and review with your Study Partner (if time permits). If there will not be a course review, consider organizing one – you can reserve a study room and meet in a campus or local library.

When Studying:

1.    Create flashcards with a question/term/vocab word on the front of the card, and the answer on the back. Quizlet is a free website/app that will help you design flashcards, practice tests and quizzes. The website/app also has pre-made flash cards (a favorite app by many students).

2.    Set a timer for 45 minutes, and review everything on the review sheet that you don’t already know using mnemonic devices like acronyms or singing a song. Also, apply the material to your life in ways that you can remember and understand. When the timer goes off, take a 15 min. break and revisit your review sheet. Study again, setting the timer if it works well for you.

3.    If you are not using the Quizlet App, put your flashcards in your purse, backpack, or car so that you can review them when you are not busy.

Studying for a Test Day 3: Review and Apply the Material, Create Practice Tests

1.    Turn off or silence any distractions

2.    When you have any free time, review your flashcards and ask yourself questions (when you’re waiting for class to start, at lunch, during study hall, etc.)

3.    Confirm a study date for tomorrow night.

When Studying:

1.    Turn off or silence any distractions.

2.    Set a timer for 45 minutes again. Go back through your flashcards and review sheet, learning/applying material (especially reviewing areas that are causing you some struggles). Take a 5-minute break. If necessary, set a timer for 45 minutes again and continue if you’re still unsure of any material!

3.    Create a few “practice tests” for yourself and your study partner (you can create your own, use study guides or visit your textbook website for practice tests).  A practice test should include questions about key terminology, facts, and concepts that are likely to be on the test.

4.    Be sure to have your flashcards (Quizlet App) ready for review again tomorrow.

Studying for a Test Day 4: Review, Study/Quiz Self, Confirm Meeting Time with Study Partner

1.    Throughout the day, pull your flashcards out and review.

2.    Confirm your study date with a friend or classmate.

When Studying:

1.    Turn off or silence any distractions.

2.    Again, review your flashcards paying special attention to the remaining material that was giving you some struggles.

3.    Quiz. With your study partner, take turns asking possible exam questions to each other. You will learn the material better by alternating asking the questions. Stop once you’ve been through the questions a few times and get a good night’s sleep.

Be sure to check out free online workshops by Student Lingo. If you need additional review, you can use ELI’s free online tutoring service through Smarthinking. If you are using a campus testing center, double check testing center hours and if possible, do not wait until the last day – emergencies can come up and in many classes, you will not be able to take the test late.

If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to contact the ELI Success Coaches at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or call 703.764.5076.

Student Lingo Workshop: Testing Anxiety

Does your heart start pounding when a test is placed in front of you? Do you know the material but your mind goes blank? These are just a few of the common challenges students face when taking a test.

As your final exams are quickly approaching, we strongly encourage checking out the Student Lingo recorded workshop entitled, Taking Tests Online: Strategies For Successtest anxiety

How often do you feel like you know the material like the back of your hand, but when you get into the testing situation, you freeze? This workshop discusses various strategies for test preparation and coping skills for situations that provoke test anxiety. The presenter does a great job describing scenarios in a testing situation that can easily lead to test anxiety in addition to our internal messages and how best to control them. She also discusses external circumstances that contribute to test anxiety and how to keep them at bay before you enter the testing situation.

The presentation also contains strategies for taking different types of tests ranging from multiple choice to true/false to essay formats. The presenter’s emphatic style and her understanding of issues related to test anxiety keeps you engaged and hopefully, when you take your exam, you will feel more confident and at peace after viewing this presentation!

We also encourage you to look back at a previous ELI Student Blog post to help you prepare for your exams.

As you prepare for your exams, make sure you know your testing location and policies. Whether you are going to a NOVA campus testing center, using a local testing center, or using ProctorU, make sure you have all the updated information including testing center hours.

If you need assistance locating helpful study resources, contact the ELI Student Success Coach at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or  703.764.5076.

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

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 blackboard. This tutorial will help you monitor your grades in your Blackboard course site. For more – follow this link!

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.

Wrap up from the advising week blog series!

That’s a wrap for our Advising Week blog series, but that doesn’t mean it’s over! Still have questions about summer or fall registration? Let us know!

Take some time to reflect on what you have learned this week. Go back and review past posts to dig a little deeper. Missed any of the live sessions? Request a recording.

Here are a few tips to help you move forward:

coffee break

Use the Student Success Planner to build your academic plan and compare your plan to program requirements.

Take a moment to facilitate a time study. Summer sessions will run at an accelarated pace, so make sure you are planning your schedule around the shorter session length availability. For fall, you have different options for session length (16, 12, or 8 weeks). Make sure you have enough time to devote to the courses you take on. What has worked in the past? What hasn’t worked? Check out StudentLingo and ELI webinars on time management.

Review your Advisement Report. Access NOVAConnect to run an advisement report to view your progress and outstanding degree requirements.

Take a moment to reflect upon your career planning. If you need more information about career options or would like to learn about a resource to help you build a career plan. Go back and review past blog posts to help you Focus on Career Planning, and take advantage of Free Job Search Tools!

Communicate with your advisor about your academic and career goals. Be sure to take a moment to review your plans for both the summer term (registration is occurring now) and the fall semester. Plan to have your academic plan,  advisement report, and/or career plan handy when communicating with your advisor.

If you have not declared a program of study or are not pursuing a specific program at NOVA connect with an academic counselor or advisor for assistance.

Ready to enroll? Follow this tutorial to help you add your courses in NOVA Connect.

Reach out to the Student Services offices or Virtual Advisors with any questions you have as you are planning your courses.

Where does the time go?

Do you know where your time goes? It seems that the older you get, the more responsibilities are put on you. Take this brief quiz via Virginia Tech’s website to determine just how much time you have to dedicate to your studies.

If the time left over is not equivalent to at least twice the number of credits you are enrolled in, you do not have enough time allotted for your studies. But, there are things you can do; such as reducing the time spent on some activities/responsibilities, adjusting your work hours, or adjusting the number of credits you take in a semester.stepbros

When one can’t reduce their time on activities or responsibilities or work; that leaves the number of credits one should take in a semester. Many students I talk with want to be able to do it all – work full-time, go to college full-time, take care of their family, etc.

Course load is often the only factor that can be manipulated; but students do not want to delay their educational goals. This is certainly admirable; but, if one does not have enough time to complete their course work accurately and on-time, and study effectively for exams; one’s grades will suffer and it can take longer to reach your goals. Take a look at the weekly study time chart to plan out your schedule.

I encourage you to take the quiz to see where your time goes and ask yourself: confused man holding question markDo you have enough time in the week to dedicate to your studies?

Are you using the time efficiently?

Do you find you do not have enough time?

What can you reduce or eliminate from your schedule to make more time?

Watch the Time Management: Strategies for Success video by StudentLingo to obtain some great tips on managing your time effectively!

-Written by ELI Counselor, Kim Burkle

Take advantage of Advising Week events on campus or virtually as you plan your schedule and register for courses. Reach out to the Student Services offices or Virtual Advisors with any questions you have as you are planning your courses.