Have regular, reliable access to a computer and Internet service.
You should have at least one back—up computer—either personal or borrowed—in the event your primary computer goes down. Additionally, you need to have a reliable way to access the Internet. It is strongly recommended that you use a wired broadband connection to access Blackboard, especially when taking exams or submitting assignments.
The Blackboard Student Support Staff strongly advises against using wireless Internet cards that plug into your USB port. Every semester, there are students whose grades suffer because their wireless Internet cards lost connection during a crucial moment (e.g. during an exam or while they were uploading an assignment).
Get an early start on your course work. It can be tempting to put off course work, especially if it is not due for a week or more. Just keep in mind that this work will need to be done eventually and the longer you wait to start, the greater the chance you’ll get overwhelmed with other assignments. If you start each assignment as soon as it become available, you’ll be less stressed and have more free time in the long run.
Don’t wait until the last minute.
Even if you don’t start immediately, certainly don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. Time and time again, students run into problems at the last minute when submitting work, taking tests, or posting responses. You never know what’s going to happen in the future and waiting until the last minute is an invitation for trouble. Don’t be that student that missed an assignment because your computer crashed right before your assignment was due.
Develop a schedule.
The best way to stay on top of tasks is to develop a plan. Treat your online courses the same as a face-to-face course by scheduling a set time everyday to doing your online course work (e.g. reading lecture notes, watching course videos, working on assignments). Having a routine will help you stay focused and help avoid procrastinating.
Check your online course at least once a day.
Just like you wouldn’t attend a traditionally class only one-third of the time, you should check your online courses at least one time everyday. This will help you stay current on class discussions and announcements posted by the instructor. Also, checking the course regularly will help you stay on task.
Test the course tools.
Becoming comfortable with the course tools and layout will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. Testing the course tools in advance is advantageous because it helps familiarize you with how those tools work before you will need to use them for class. This also allows plenty of time to troubleshoot problems without the added pressure of having an assignment due.
Being an active member of your class is crucial to succeeding in your online courses. Participating helps you retain information relevant to the course while exposing you to different perspectives that you may not have considered before. Participating in class is also a good way to get to know your fellow students, which can be harder to do in an online environment.
Something else to consider is instructors remember the students who actively participate in class discussions and ask thought-provoking questions. Being on an instructor’s radar can be a good thing, especially if you are looking to expand your professional and/or academic relationships.
Take advantage of online office hours.
Instructors typically have a designated time during the week in which they are available on campus or online to speak with students individually and in small groups. During an instructor’s office hours, you have the unique opportunity to seek individual guidance within a course, ask questions about a topic you don’t understand, or discuss papers and projects. Most professors are happy to offer academic assistance to students, especially those willing to make the effort. That being said, if the professor asks you what it is you don’t understand, be prepared to tell them specifically or you may come off as not willing to try.
Ask for help.
Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you are having trouble in your online classes. Talk with your instructor and fellow students for help understanding the course content. Forming a study group is not only a great way to get help but also an avenue for connecting with your peers. As mentioned above, take advantage of your instructor’s office hours.
For general computer and campus systems (accessing the campus wireless network, email, and BOSS), you can contact the IT Services Help Desk. Be ready to supply them with your NetID or T-Number. The Blackboard Student Support office can provide you with assistance with UALR’s Blackboard system in the form of tutorials, email and telephone support services.
Plagiarism and academic dishonesty are serious offenses with severe consequences including failing the assignment and even expulsion from the course or the university. And while it might be tempting to plagiarize or cheat in an online course, just keep in mind that you will probably get caught. Instructors have an uncanny sense when it comes to student writing and can usually tell if the work is original. In addition, UALR’s Blackboard system comes with a variety of tools to detect academic dishonesty.
Instead of resorting to cheating or plagiarism, follow some of the tips mentioned above. Don’t wait until the last minute, develop a schedule, and talk with your instructor or peers if you are struggling in a course. Just remember, you can bring up a grade or retake a course, but the consequences of academic dishonesty can have lasting effects on your chances at future employment.