So, you're in an online class? While online learning offers flexibility in your learning experience, it also requires self-discipline. It's easy to get distracted and fall behind as you must create your own structure and there is no weekly class to remind you of what needs to be done and keep you accountable. Planning ahead is key when it comes to online learner readiness.
To get started with your introduction to online learning, the first step is to orient yourself with myCourseLink. myCourseLink is where you will go for your online courses – your username and password is the same as the one you use to access your Lakehead Email and myInfo account.
Check out the following video to introduce you to navigating a course in myCourseLink and its features.
Check your technology
Your synchronous online classes this year will be hosted by your instructors using Zoom. It is important that you set up and test your Zoom access and connection prior to the start of your classes in order to avoid any technical difficulties on the first day.
Begin by checking that the sound and video on your computer or device is working well in Zoom
- Join a Test Meeting
- Testing Computer or Device Audio
- How Do I Test My Video?
Accessing Zoom in D2L/myCourselink
In the" Calendar" widget in your course site, click on the "event" which links to the "event information" page with a "Click here to join Zoom Meeting" link.
Select "Other Tools" in the navbar of your course site and click on "Zoom"
Improving your Zoom Connection
- Use the best internet connection you can.
- Wired connections are better than wireless.
- WiFi connections are better than cellular.
- Plan ahead and join a Zoom meeting from a location where you can use fast and reliable connection.
- Mute your microphone when you're not speaking.
- Stop your webcam video when you don't need it.
- If your instructor is okay with you doing so, start your video only when you need to show yourself on webcam, and stop your video when it isn't needed.
- Disable HD webcam video.
- Close other unneeded applications on your computer.
- Avoid other activities that will steal bandwidth.
- On your Zoom device avoid large downloads and/or uploads, Streaming video. Cloud backups, or file synchronizations
- Communicate with the instructor of your Zoom meeting.
- If the best Internet connection you have is slow, let the person running your session know ahead of time.
Download the Zoom App!
Having the Zoom app already downloaded onto your phone will easily allow you to access the meeting and reduce the risk of missing important information during class if you are having computer issues.
MyCourselink (D2L) is where you will find all of your online coursework. Watch the tutorial to learn how to access and use the platform before you begin classes.
For more D2L tutorials: Select a Course --> Help --> myCourselink Videos for Students (Videos topics cover navigation, account settings, notifications, content, discussions, quizzes, assignments, user progress, grades, classlist, and instant messages.)
Download Your myCourselinkApp: The "Brightspace Pulse App"!
Brightspace Pulse is a mobile app that brings news, deadlines, and grades together in one place so you can spend less time organizing and more time learning. This app syncs to your myCourselink account, which is where you will go to complete all of your online courses. By downloading the app, you will have easy access to all of your course content, on any handheld Android or Apple device.
To download the app visit:
Success in an Online Course
Here are some questions to consider before you begin your course:
- Is your work area designed to ensure you are successful? Consider distractions like technology and family/friends, organization of course materials and resources etc.
- Is your computer set up for success? Consider reliable high-speed internet, proper computer software (Microsoft Office suite, course-specific programs).
- What routines will you need to establish? Consider structuring your week, planning for important deadlines, receiving support/assistance, finding a study group etc.
As a successful online learner, you should...
- ensure you have acquired all course prerequisites and skills.
- read your syllabus and ensure you have reached out to your professor with questions or concerns.
- write down all course deadlines on a calendar and set alerts for due dates in advance.
- maintain a realistic study schedule that you can commit to weekly.
- create good, independent study habits, like starting work promptly and taking breaks.
- establish a peer group that can discuss assignments or tough concepts.
- practice successful self-motivation techniques.
- be technologically prepared. Become familiar/comfortable with different software in order to adapt to technical requirements and file formats.
- As you work your way through your course, continue to check in daily to see if there are new course postings or updates. Download course materials as soon as they are posted in case they are not available later (or you have a technical issue).
Writing Strategies for Online learning
'Netiquette' is a term that refers to etiquette and rules for behaving properly online. As you'll be relying heavily on online communication with your professor and classmates, it is important to ensure you are professional, clear, and concise. Respect others' time by getting to the point, eliminating graphics or lengthy attachments, and remembering that you are communicating with real people!
Online Discussion Forums
Your professor may choose to use discussion forums that allow you to post your thoughts, ideas, questions and respond to others in your course. Use complete sentences, keep your responses thoughtful and back them up with evidence. To encourage conversation, try ending your post with a question or responding to your classmate's ideas with reflective/constructive comments. Be sure to follow your professor's guidelines/rubric on posting if they've provided one. Before posting anything, ensure you have proofread your message and corrected any errors.
When sending emails to your professor or classmates, begin with a courteous greeting : ("Hello _____" or "Dear Professor ______") and a subject line that includes the course code and accurately reflects your key message (Subject: ENGI 1100 - Assignment 2 Question). Many students and professors read emails on their mobile devices so be brief and specific. This will help the reader respond quickly and to the real focus of your email. Use emoticons/emojis with care. Sometimes they are appropriate but it is best to let your professor set the tone of the conversation. Most professional communication does not include emoticons/emojis. Save your message as a draft, check for errors, and double-check the correct spelling of names, especially your instructor's!
Helpful hint: the 7 C's of online communication - Clarity, completeness, conciseness, concreteness, correctness, courtesy, and consideration.
Assignments and Exams
Assignments and activities are due at set times throughout your course and will vary from class to class. All details will be available in your syllabus. You may have quizzes/exams that take place during a set time. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how to access these as well as the 'rules' surrounding these. For example, while you may have 24 hours of access to a quiz, you may only have 60 minutes to complete it once you start. Additionally, take the time to understand how to submit assignments online in advance of due dates in case you need technical support. If you have an assignment due at 4:00pm, you do not want to encounter a technical problem with nobody available to support you at 3:59pm.
It is important to remember that although your course content isn't conducted face-to-face, support and resources are still available to you.
Reach out to your professors
If you are struggling with course content you should reach out to your professor; however, it is important to remember that everyone's priorities are different! Give your professor as much time as you can to respond to you about important information like due dates and assignment questions. If your question needs an immediate response and your course has an online discussion component, post the question to your classmates.
Join a virtual Study Group
Why join a study group?
- A great way to learn and understand something is through explaining it to others,answering questions, and thinking through new perspectives.
- Discussions with classmates can help fill in details that you may have missed from the lecture or textbook.
- Studying in community can motivate you and help you to avoid procrastination.
Tips for getting started with a Study Group
- Look for students that participate in class discussions.
- Reach out to classmates via a discussion thread, email, or instant message in your course site or Zoom lecture. Simply ask if anyone wants to form a study group.
- Figure out what platform your groups prefer and use that for communicating. Keep your study group to 3-4 people so there's room for everyone to discuss course concepts. Each meeting, focus on weekly class topics.
- Agree to get assigned reading done before you meet so that everyone can thoughtfully add in and ask questions. Set up a regular weekly meeting time for the group and ask group members to notify others if they aren't able to make it. Before leaving, ask the group if they have ideas for improving future study sessions.
*We also encourage you to check out Lakehead's "Virtual Library Study Space" at libcal.lakeheadu.ca
Connect with a classmate! You never know what new questions and ideas you'll find when working together.
Connect with the Academic Support Zone
The Academic Support Zone provides free peer tutoring and writing support. You can book an appointment for writing assistance to support the development of your essays and assignments and access the tutoring schedule on MySuccess.
Connect with the Student Success Center
The Student Success Centre is committed to helping you with academic skills such as time management, using your textbooks effectively, and study skills. You can book an appointment with a Student Success Advisor via MySuccess for support. You can also access online resources like a five-day study plan, preparing for tests and exams, and study strategies by visiting lakeheadu.ca/tutoring and scrolling down to "Academic Success Resources". Additionally, the Faculty of Education Technology Committee has curated a list of resources that you may find helpful as a Lakehead student.
Click here to download the PDF and get started.
The library is one resource that you will certainly require. You have access to books, articles, e-journals, films, and digital archives all from your computer or mobile device. Additionally, you can reach out to a Liaison Librarian for assistance in your specific program. Click here to connect with your Lakehead libraries.
Being an Effective Online Learner
This resource provides flexible, customizable learning strategies and study skills sub-modules for students enrolled in online learning courses to support their success. This module is comprised of a series of interactive sub-modules which include videos, interactive activities, assessments, student guidebooks, and a faculty guidebook. Explore this resource here. This resource was funded by the Government of Ontario through the Shared Online Course Fund.
There are two great options available to you as a Lakehead student. The first, Zoom, is a cloud-based service which provides easy to use online meetings, sharing of content as well as video conferencing collaboration. Learn how to set up a meeting for you and your classmates by clicking here. Alternatively, Google Hangouts is text and video communication software that you can access directly from your Lakehead email or by installing the app to your mobile device.