Tag Archives: Tech Tip

First Day of Class 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!

Join us for an ELI Orientation webinar

Are you enrolled in your first online learning course this spring? 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.

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. 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. Instructors make courses available 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.

The web conference tool we use at ELI is Blackboard Collaborate. You can test your connection ahead of time by following the steps in this ELI Student Blog post. http://blogs.nvcc.edu/elife/2014/06/16/how-to-log-into-a-blackboard-collaborate-session/

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.

SmarterMeasure: Technical Competency, Skills, and Knowledge

SmarterMeasure logoIn order to participate in class, a student must have some way to get to the classroom. A student in a traditional class may drive a car on a highway to attend class, but a student in an online course “drives” a computer on the Internet (the Information Highway) to “attend” class. Technical competency is important, but if you do not score high in this area, don’t worry! The ability to comfortably learn is what is most important. You will want to gain comfort in navigating the blackboard course site so you can submit assignments, post on the discussion board and select folders so you don’t miss any course work.

A multitude of resources exist on the internet. Those listed in the technical competency summary are just a small sample of what is available in terms of information or tutorials on the topics focused on in SmarterMeasure. Some of these sites are free; a few require a subscription or fee. To find more or different information beyond these sites, feel free to perform your own web search.

You can run the System Check which is found in the Welcome message of each Blackboard course site to see what tools you will need for your online course, and make sure your computer is up to date.

Also, check out the Blackboard Learn app on your mobile device to connect with your class. You cannot complete your entire class on the app, but can access a lot of the folders and use it to stay up to date on announcements and assignments.

To obtain log-in information for the SmarterMeasure assessment, email EliSuccess@nvcc.edu from your VCCS email account. Once you complete the SmarterMeasure assessment, you can find more information in the ‘Assessment Summary’ section.

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

10 Tips to Get You Started!

Below are some tips to help you get started in your ELI classes today! 484765389Be sure to check your Blackboard course site on a regular basis throughout the semester 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.

and one more … #11 Financial Aid assistance is available 24/7 by calling 1-855-323-3199 or at the Student Support Center.

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

Blackboard Tip: Tutorials

Confused as to how to submit an assignment or use the discussion board in Blackboard? Check the Blackboard Tutorials in your course menu.

Blackboard MenuThe Blackboard Tutorials menu button is available in every ELI Blackboard course site and provides a list of “how to” tutorials featuring the tools in Blackboard 9.1. This You Tube channel will also provide you with a variety of short videos to help you succeed this semester!

View this video, to help you better understand how to submit an assignment. Don’t fall behind. Make sure you are reading through the syllabus section and using the Overview of Assignments as a guide.

There is also an overview to help you understand how to post a discussion board post.

Remember, in most ELI classes, once you submit your assignment or discussion board post, the submission is final. The only way to go back and edit is to ask the instructor for permission. Make sure to spell check, proof read, and edit!

Time Management Tips

ScheduleNow that you have a clear understanding about why you are taking classes, it is time to plot out when you will be working on them this semester. Taking a college course is a definite time commitment. While online classes give you flexibility, they frequently require more time than classroom based courses, not less. In an online course, it is essential that you check in several times throughout the week to make sure you are staying on track and not missing any announcements from your instructor. You will need to make sure you do the reading assigned for the course in addition to the practice exercises and the graded assignments. To budget your time appropriately, allow 2-3 hours each week for every credit you are taking. So, if you are completing six credits of classes, make sure you budget 12-18 hours in your schedule for doing your reading and coursework. Furthermore, when scheduling your classes, allow 15 minute breaks for every hour of uninterrupted study to allow yourself to retain what you are trying to learn.

Figure out the calendar/planning system that works best for you early on in the semester. If a paper calendar works best, use it! If you prefer to set alerts and updates on your phone calendar, use it! Mark in the times that are already committed to things like work, meetings, or other necessities. Also mark in the time you need for meals, commuting, and sleep. After that, schedule in the hours you intend to spend studying. View these in your mind as your class time and try to keep them as consistent as you can every week, so you create a habit. Establishing a routine is key to staying on track!

Then, on the first week of classes, attend your class by logging into blackboard during the first scheduled window and complete as much of your first week’s assignments as you can. Most classroom based courses encourage you to miss no more than two class periods a semester. Try to be at least this faithful to attend your self-scheduled online study periods. When it comes to taking online classes, building strong habits is critical to success!

Do you have any questions about managing your time or staying on task throughout the semester? Join an ELI Counselor for the Tips for Success in Online Classes today at 12:15 pm (EST). If you can’t attend live, request a recording to get the information and get started strong. Register or request a recording here.

Want to work with your ELI Success Coach? Contact your coach at elisuccess@nvcc.edu or 703.764.5076 for tips for success and resources to help you have a successful semester.

The Etiquette Around Discussion Forums

We recently came across some discussion board forum tips from a website called online learning tips that we wanted to share! Whether you are new to online learning, or a seasoned pro, converting your thoughts to written words can be tough. What you might say out loud in a classroom setting might not come across well in print. Tone can be difficult to master while writing and on top of all of that, you need to worry about spelling and grammar.

All ELI courses require discussion board posts and often times you are asked to comment on your classmates posts. In a face-to-face setting, you might not have any problems discussing the material with classmates, but getting comfortable writing your comments out can take time. Check out the tips in the online learning tips post and feel free to share some of your own in the comments section!

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

ELI Textbook – free courses making headlines

Are you working on your fall schedule? Are you interested in taking a class that doesn’t require you to purchase any textbooks or course materials? An OER class might be right for you!

This past fall ELI offered a series of 12 general education courses that do not require students to purchase textbooks or other course materials. These textbook-free classes used free open educational resources (OER).

Courses can be taken individually, or as a series to satisfy the requirements for the General Education Certificate. In lieu of traditional textbooks, all readings and materials used in the courses will be available to students free of charge online or through Blackboard – NOVA’s course management system. OER materials include teaching, learning, and research resources that are in the public domain or are released under a licensing agreement that permits their free use or re-purposing by others.


Read more about how ELI’s OER-Based General Education project will save NOVA students money in Community College Week.

For more information about ELI’s OER courses, contact the ELI Counselors at elicounselors@nvcc.edu.

Student Lingo Workshop: The Writing Process

Are you feeling overwhelmed about an upcoming research paper? 

nullStudent Lingo is a free online resource that offers workshops on a variety of success topics. There are a few new workshops this semester that focus on the writing process from pre-writing and planning, drafting a thesis sentence and the revision process. Even if you are familiar with the various stages of writing a research paper, this tool offers a refresher and a reminder of ways that you can prepare for the essay using techniques like brainstorming and creating a story board to link sequences of events.   

These recorded workshops are presented by a knowledgeable presenter in a Power Point format.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by the next essay that you have to write check out the workshops that are associated with the writing process. The presenter discusses the various stages of writing and strategies that you can employ in the beginning to ensure that your essay is thorough in achieving its intended purpose. The presentations also discuss linking ideas in an organized fashion as well as important elements related to the revision process.  

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