SmarterMeasure: Typing Speed and Accuracy

SmarterMeasure logoA student does not have to be an expert typist to succeed in a course. However, the faster you can type and the fewer errors you make will impact your ability to participate in your courses.

The average workplace typist reaches about 50 to 60 words per minute. The average web surfer comes in at around 30 words per minute, at a peak. Many courses require you to type as you participate in discussion boards, email the instructor, and compose papers. If you type slower than about 20 words per minute, you should consider using a resource such as  This resource is the leading FREE Web site that helps you master the skills of touch typing. Whether you’re a typing expert or just a “hunt & peck” beginner, the interactive exercises in this Typing Tutor automatically adjust to your skill level. The better you get, the more challenging the typing exercises become. You can come and go as you please and pick up the typing lesson where you left off.

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

SmarterMeasure: Reading Recall

SmarterMeasure logoThe average adult reading rate for English prose text in the United States is around 250 to 300 words per minute. Research shows that reading is around 25% slower from a computer screen than from paper. Thus you may slightly increase your results to find your speed when reading from paper.

Student Lingo offers an on-demand workshop titled Reading Comprehension Strategies that you can watch to help develop your skills. Take advantage of resources available to you including Student Lingo and your Student Success Coach, just to name a few!

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

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 from your VCCS email account. Once you complete the SmarterMeasure assessment, you can find more information in the ‘Assessment Summary’ section.

SmarterMeasure: Learning Styles

SmarterMeasure logoPeople learn differently. Some people are very comfortable reading large amounts of text, while others are more comfortable listening to someone speak or writing things down for themselves. A person’s preferred learning style is the approach to learning that feels most natural to them. It is based on a combination of their experiences, strengths, weaknesses, and preferences.

Everyone has a mix of learning styles, and some people have strong, dominant learning styles. There are no “right” or “wrong” learning styles. Most people tend to adapt their learning style to the context of learning. With practice a person can strengthen themselves in the learning styles that are least comfortable for them. When a person recognizes the learning styles that work best for them, they can then make a better informed decision about the ways that they approach learning new things.

Student Lingo offers an on-demand workshop titled Discover your learning styles. Student Lingo on-demand workshops are available to you on a number of topics throughout the semester. Take advantage of the resources to help you succeed in your online classes.

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

SmarterMeasure: Individual Attributes

SmarterMeasure logoThis section measures six items: time management, procrastination, persistence, academic attributes, locus of control, and willingness to ask for help. These attributes can be enhanced or improved through academic interventions. Ask your faculty member or academic advisor about the resources for remediation and/or support which your school may provide.

The NOVA Online Counselors host a Tips for Success in Online Courses webinar throughout the semester. The webinar will focus on time management to help you succeed in your classes. To find the live and recorded sessions, click here.

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

SmarterMeasure: Life Factors

SmarterMeasure logoMany students strongly desire to continue their education. However, often other situations in life prevent them from being able to do so. The Life Factors section of SmarterMeasure asks questions about other elements in your life that may impact your ability to continue your education. The section measures five items: Time, Place, Reason, Resources, and Skills.

You may be able to modify circumstances which impact some of these life skills. If so, you are encouraged to take appropriate action to help yourself succeed. But some of the circumstances in life may be beyond your control. If this is the case, being aware of these realities and planning accordingly may be beneficial for you.

The NOVA Online staff offer several webinars throughout the semester to help you succeed in your NOVA Online Courses. You might be specifically interested in the Student Lingo on-demand workshop called Maximizing Your College Experience. For all webinars and on-demand workshops, visit the NOVA Online Webinar page.

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

SmarterMeasure Assessment

Are you ready for Online Learning at NOVA Online?SmarterMeasure Logo

SmarterMeasure is an assessment that measures learner readiness for Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute. SmarterMeasure is an indicator of the degree to which distance learning and/or learning in a technology rich environment will be a good fit for you.

SmarterMeasure is meant to be an interesting experience by which you may learn more about yourself, online learning, and how to succeed! Your SmarterMeasure score will not prevent you from registering for online classes. Take your time to rate yourself honestly. It is a tool that will help you assess your strengths and opportunities for growth related to online learning in 6 areas.

1. Life Factors
2. Individual Attributes – procrastination, time management, willingness to ask for help, academic attributes
3. Learning Styles – what is your predominant learning style?
4. Technical Competency, Skills, and Knowledge
5. Reading Rate and Recall
6. Typing Speed and Accuracy

You will receive a full color report immediately following the completion of all areas of SmarterMeasure. You may email this report, print it, or download and save for future reference. It also provides some remedial tools related to each area. For more information about SmarterMeasture, request a copy of the SmarterMeasure Assessment Webinar.

If you are visiting Northern Virginia Community College Extended Learning Institute and would like to determine if online learning is right for you, please email for your user name and password.

This Week at NOVA Online!

Where has this summer gone?! How is it already August! Open registration for fall classes is currently underway. First start date classes begin on Monday, August 24. Check the schedule of classes in NOVA Connect and follow this tutorial to help you search for online classes through NOVA Online. Make sure you change the date to reflect the term you are looking to register for (fall ’15).Monday

Tuition DeadlineBe sure to have a method of payment in place to meet the fall 2015 payment deadline when you register for your classes. At this point, after you register for your classes, tuition is due the following business day at 5pm to hold your seat.

Using Financial Aid for Textbooks – Want to use financial aid money for your required course materials? Get all the details and complete the the Bookstore Authorization E-Form, via the Financial Aid Dashboard.

NOVA Online Orientation Webinar – Join us Wednesday, August 12, from 6:30 – 7:30 pm for a general overview. This one hour webinar focuses on getting started in your courses, navigating your Blackboard course site, and identifying tips for success and student support services. The NOVA Online Orientation is highly recommended for students who are new to online learning and already registered for classes.

Thursday, August 13 from 6:00-7:00 pm – Participate in a New Student Orientation Webinar – This one hour webinar is required for new-to-college students aged 17-24. New Student Orientation will focus on academic and career goals, reading degree plans, and registering for classes. All are welcome.

Enrolled in a MTT course this fall? Do you need a few units of math to place into the required math course(s) for your major? Review the Understanding your MTT course webinar hosted by NOVA Online Success Coaches. Have any questions? Contact your Success Coach at

Have a great week!

Join us for a NOVA Online 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 NOVA Online course? A great place to start is with the NOVA Online Orientation webinar. 463461567A webinar is a live, online instruction session. You can participate in a webinar from any computer or mobile device with high-speed, reliable 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 NOVA Online is free, but registration is required.

After completing the registration form, you will receive an automatic email with information to join the live webinar. If you do not receive an email, double check your email address and re-submit the request. Register for a session on the NOVA Online Webinar webpage.

Webinars are currently delivered via Blackboard Collaborate. You can test your connection ability ahead of time by visiting Behind Blackboard: First Time Users — Blackboard Collaborate. You can also view a tutorial on the NOVA Online Student Blog.

The NOVA Online Orientation webinar is a live, one hour online instruction session geared for students already enrolled in their fall term courses. The webinar focuses on getting started in your NOVA Online 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.

If you have a New Student hold on your account, requiring you to attend Student Orientation before registering for your fall classes, you will need to complete the Start Strong Student Orientation before the NOVA Online Orientation webinar.

Connect with your NOVA Online peers on Facebook and Twitter.

First Day of Class Reminders!

Happy First Day of Classes, NOVA Online Students!

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