Orientation for Online Students

Welcome to Online Learning at Harper College!

Taking courses with online content can be a gratifying component of your college education. Online courses provide you with flexibility and convenience. However, with this flexibility comes additional responsibilities. This orientation is designed to provide you with the information and tools that may be used to help you be successful in your online courses. Even if you've taken an online course before, the resources in Part 2 can still be valuable to you.

Part 1: Overview

While taking an online course, you can expect:

  • A flexible schedule to work at your own pace each week while applying your own self-discipline skills to meet required timelines set by the instructor.
  • A web-based learning management system, Blackboard, with individual login access.
  • Engaging course activities – some of which require simultaneous participation (scheduled online chats or conferencing) and some of which do not require simultaneous participation (online discussions and assignments).
  • A strong incorporation of your reading, writing and digital literacy skills.
  • Clear online communication, feedback and instructor facilitation to promote student success.
  • Availability of additional online resources including related Internet course content, technical assistance and Harper campus resources.

Harper’s online courses provide the same level of educational quality and content as traditional face-to-face classes. They can also include:

  • Flexibility to “attend class” anytime - day or night, 7 days a week.
  • Various online resources available at your fingertips.
  • Communicating and collaborating with others making the course a highly meaningful experience.
  • Being a part of a diverse group of students making a unique learning experience.

To experience an online course in Blackboard, select the following link: Harper College Demonstration Course.

  • Once inside Blackboard, look for the My Courses area.
  • Select the Harper College Demo Course option. This will allow you to enter the demonstration course and experience how online course materials may be provided and function within Blackboard.

Part 2: Resources

Time Management

One of the key benefits of online learning is that you can create your own schedule, work at your own pace, and accomplish your coursework when it works best for your individual needs, within the general weekly schedule the instructor creates. Students are often surprised, though, by the amount of time it may take to successfully complete an online course.

Harper’s guideline is that there should be at least three hours each week of studying for every one credit hour. (If this is the first time you are taking an online course, it may require additional time to become acclimated to the learning environment.) For example:  In a three credit hour course, that runs for 16 weeks, you should expect to budget at least nine hours each week for completing coursework.

  • Make study time a priority in your schedule. Create a calendar of events for when you will need to study during the week to successfully complete coursework on time.
  • Try to plan and work ahead to eliminate any stress you may have before course due dates.
  • For additional time management assistance, you may refer to Student Success Services.

Student Success in Online Learning

  • Review your basic computer skills.
    Some basic skills may include knowing how to create and save documents, organize files and folders on storage devices, perform basic internet searches, and send email messages.
  • Prepare yourself, with accurate expectations, before the course starts.
    Review the Blackboard learning management system when the course material is made available by the instructor. Be sure to purchase the textbook(s), read the syllabus, and become familiar with the Blackboard course content as early as possible.
  • Stay organized and manage your time wisely.
    Organize your course information to help you study efficiently to achieve your goals.
  • Communicate regularly online with peers and with the instructor.
    Be self-motivated to ask questions and for assistance when necessary.
  • Develop an alternate computer usage plan in case technical problems (hardware or software) arise during the semester.

Student Resources

Here are some campus resources that may assist you:

Answer these 10 questions offered to help you assess if an online learning format is a good match for you. Each question will provide you with helpful feedback according to your specific answer. Take the Survey.

New to using Blackboard? These video-based, Blackboard online tutorials may be of assistance to you.

For additional technical support visit Harper’s Student Tech Support Services.

Last Updated: 4/17/23