What to Expect from an Online or Hybrid Course

The first thing that you can expect is that online and hybrid courses at GVSU meet the same quality standards as our traditional in-seat courses. Course sizes are small, ensuring student-faculty contact. You can expect a course designed using the recommended best practices of course delivery, supporting the development of a community of online learners.

Online and hybrid academic courses generally follow the regular semester schedule and are not self-paced. While some classroom or synchronous time may be required for hybrid courses, and some synchronous time may be required for online, the majority of coursework is available online - allowing you to learn from any place at anytime.  

Student Studying with Laptop


Communication with your professor and with your classmates is essential in an online course. There are many ways to communicate in the online environment.

Email & Google Apps
At GVSU, all students are provided with a Google Gmail account, and all email from the university is sent to this address. This includes any email sent from Blackboard. Your professor or classmates may email you from your course site, and those emails will go to your GVSU Gmail account. You cannot customize Blackboard for email to go to another email address, however, you can forward your GVSU Gmail to another email account if desired. You will use the same username and password for Gmail as you use for Blackboard. If you do not know or remember your password, you can reset it from a link on the Gmail log-in page.

In addition to email, you may find it useful to take advantage of Google Docs, especially for collaborative work with your classmates. You'll find access to these once you log-in to Gmail, and Google offers tutorials for how to use their products.

Discussion Board
You will likely have requirements in your online course that include online discussion. Blackboard has an online discussion board as its primary means for asynchronous discussion. (Asynchronous means that you do not need to be online at the same time as anyone - you can log in and post your contributions to the discussion board, read what your classmates wrote and respond back at anytime.) 

Other Technology Tools
Your professor may ask that you use social media or a wide array of other technology tools for communication and collaboration. If so, your professor will explain what you are using and how, and will be your main point of contact for assistance.

Online Learning FAQs

If you are new to online learning, we recommend starting with the "Are Your Ready for Online Learning?" webpage which provides these steps:


STEP 1 - Complete the Online Readiness Quiz 

STEP 2 Become Familiar with Expectations of an Online or Hybrid Course 

STEP 3 - Learn the Essential Skills for Success

STEP 4 - Review the Required Technologies and Computer Skills for Online Learning

To be successful in an online or hybrid online course, you need to:

  • Have reliable access to the internet
  • Be generally comfort in using technology such as email and word processing tools
  • Be able to quickly learn to search and success resources online
  • Know how to navigate and use tools in Blackboard

Please also visit our "Technology Requirements for Online/Hybrid Courses" page.

Blackboard is the enterprise learning management system that is used at GVSU. This system will provide you with your "virtual classroom", whereby your instructor will communicate with you through announcements, email, and discussion board activities. Assignments are often facilitated through Blackboard as well as grades and feedback. Some courses will also make use of Zoom for online office hours and live class sessions.

Online and hybrid courses at GVSU use the university's enterprise learning management system called Blackboard. Students will be provided a campus network username and password to use to login and Blackboard can be accessed from the GVSU home page or by navigating directly to: https://lms.gvsu.edu/

Faculty teach online courses in a variety of ways. Most courses use an asynchronous class delivery which do not require you to be online at a specific time on a specific day. We recommend reading the syllabus and keeping up to date with your professors expectations. Some professors may also hold virtual online office hours with Zoom (or other technologies) so that you can communicate live.

If you need help, do not wait, ask! 

If you've never experienced online learning, you may have some preconceived notions of what it will be like. Maybe you have heard from your peers that online classes are easy. In short, online courses require just as much work as in-person classes, with even greater importance on self-disciple, self-motivation, and time management. Read our "Common Myths of Online Learning" webpage for other misconceptions of online learning.

Just like a traditional course, you can expect to have a syllabus with a course calendar for due dates. Although you can access the course materials and participate in asynchronous discussion when it is convenient to you, you will still have deadlines and due dates. Be sure to adhere to the course calendar, and participate in online discussion early and often.

If you are enrolled in an online course, you will not be required to come to campus to take an exam. Your professor will have exams and assessments requirements outlined in their syllabus. Some courses may make use of online proctoring software which will require the use of a webcam and microphone or headset.

Although your course content is available 24/7 and you may personally be "in-class" in the middle of the night, your professor will be available during scheduled hours. Typically, your professor will communicate their availability and let you know when and how often they will be online or accessible. 


Most online or hybrid online courses will use Blackboard, GVSU's learning management system. Think of it as your online classroom.

If you are unfamiliar with Blackboard, there is a self-paced tutorial that will help you to learn how to navigate and to sample many of its features. To access the online tutorial, go to Blackboard, and look for the link that reads "Blackboard Tutorial for Students". You will be able to access many of the common areas without logging in. However, the communication features are only available by self-enrolling into the course. The "+ Enroll" button is located on the lower left of the tutorial site.

You will find Student Help for Blackboard on the eLearning website. GVSU's Student IT Service Desk offers technical support and assistance.

Download the Blackboard Mobile App

The Blackboard mobile app provides students with a quick and easy way to interact with courses, content, and instructors.

The mobile app includes the following features:

  • Access your courses and content
  • View course items and course announcements
  • Take assignments and tests
  • Participate in discussions

Virtual Office Hours and Live Class Meetings

There may be times when your professor offers virtual office hours or requests synchronous online class meetings. Synchronous refers to everyone meeting at the same time - actually logging in to Blackboard at the designated time and accessing the online "live" classroom. GVSU uses Zoom to facilitate these meetings. If you have a webcam, then your professor and your classmates will be able to see you when you talk. You will be able to see others who have webcams when they talk. With a microphone, you can speak and be heard. 

Support information for Zoom can be found on the eLearning website. 

Online vs Hybrid Courses

Online and hybrid courses are unique, please take a moment to review information specific to:

Page last modified October 5, 2022