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Getting Started in Your Online Course

Once you have completed everything in the previous sections, you are ready to start work in your class.

Start by logging into Blackboard and reading the announcements. If your instructor has posted specific instructions on how to get started in your course, follow those instructions. Otherwise, the next thing you should do is read and be sure you understand the course syllabus and course calendar.

You should spend some time exploring the course to be sure you can find everything you'll need throughout the semester.

Using the syllabus and course calendar, determine what your first week's assignment is and begin working on it.

Communication with your instructor

Your instructor will give you specific information as to how you are to communicate him/her. Most instructors communicate with students using a combination of the announcements area, the discussion board, and email.

Instructors strive to respond to email from students within 48 hours, excluding weekends. Many instructors prefer to communicate with students using the discussion board, as this allows other students in the class to "see" the conversation and also benefit. In some cases, instructors may ask students to refrain from sending email to them unless the information is of a personal nature. This is to promote frequent and active communication in the discussion board.

Each instructor has their own policy for communicating with students. Be sure you understand your instructors' policy.

Online instructors still have "Office Hours". These office hours may be conducted in-person, in the chat room, or by phone. Your instructor will inform you of his office hours in the syllabus.

Be sure you understand Internet Etiquette (Netiquette)

From the site, netiquette is defined as using technology effectively to communicate with others both personally and professionally with knowledge, understanding and courtesy.

Please remember the following basic rules of netiquette when communicating online, whether it is by email, the discussion board, or some other means (courtesy of Wor-Wic Community College):

1. Do not type in all capital letters. THIS IS CONSIDERED SHOUTING OR YELLING ONLINE.

2. Start your emails with a salutation like Dear or Hello and make sure your name is at the end of your email. Type in complete sentences. You are not jotting down notes, you're communicating with another person.

3. Always type the reason for your email in the subject line. This gives the receiver a heads up and helps in locating saved messages.

4. Don't submit a discussion comment when you are very angry. If you post an angry message to someone (called flaming) it will stay in your class for the rest of the semester for you and your classmates to view.

5. Don't expect an answer to an email or discussion question immediately. Ask your instructor about their guidelines for responding to emails and posts.

6. Be patient with other people's mistakes. For some students, distance learning is a new experience. Everyone makes mistakes. Experienced students should share their knowledge with those who need a little assistance.

7. Check your spelling and grammar before sending or posting online communications:

"If a emale is writon with speeling mestakes and gramitckal errors, you mite git the meening, however, the messige is not as affective, or smoothly redable. Poor writing is equivalent to someone speaking with spinach stuck between their teeth. Listeners and readers concentrate on the spinach; not what is being said." (

For more information about netiquette, refer to the following websites:

The Core Rules of Netiquette
Top Ten Most Important Rules of Email Netiquette

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