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.
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.
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
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.
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.