Keys to Success

Keys to Online Learning at the University of Louisville Online

Welcome to UofL Online!

If you're thinking about enrolling in an online course or already have, you've come to the right place. UofL Online strives to answer your questions about online learning and provide resources to help you succeed in online classes.

  • Click to Show/HideWhat is online learning?

    As the name suggests, "online learning" is learning facilitated in an online environment. Rather than attend class in a traditional classroom setting, online learning allows you to "go to class" when it’s convenient for you. UofL uses Blackboard, a course management system, to facilitate online learning. When classes begin for the semester, you will log in to Blackboard to access your course. Each online course you’re taking has its own site within Blackboard; these sites are your online classrooms. Students use Blackboard to…

    • Read the course syllabus or handouts
    • Submit papers and other assignments
    • Take tests
    • View grades
    • Send e-mail to other students or the instructor
    • Discuss readings with classmates on a "discussion board"

    Like traditional courses to which you’re accustomed, online courses usually require that you submit assignments, interact with other students, and communicate with your instructor.

  • Click to Show/HideWhat you will need to take an online course

    While it may seem obvious, it’s important to note that you need regular access to a computer and the Internet throughout your course. Most students have their own computer, but you could also take an online class if you have regular access at work, the local library, a community college, a friend’s home, or anywhere else. You’ll need to access your course homepage regularly to check instructor updates, participate in discussions, and more. You should check in at least once a day, although most students find it helpful to log in multiple times per day.

    If you have Internet access and a computer purchased within the last two years or so, it’s likely you have everything you need to get started. Although not mandatory, it’s extremely advantageous to have a high-speed Internet connection such as cable or DSL. Large file downloads (e.g., videos) could cause problems if using dial-up.

    Depending on the course, you may need to download and install some free software available on the Internet, and you will likely need word processing and other office productivity software. Read our online course technical requirements to ensure you have everything you need.  Learn more about the Technical Requirements for online learning.

  • Click to Show/HideGetting started

    UofL uses Blackboard, a course management system, to facilitate online learning. When classes begin for the semester, you will log in to Blackboard to access your course. Each online course you’re taking has its own site within Blackboard; these sites are your online classrooms. See the Blackboard module for more information.

    You’ll receive instructions via email to your university account before the class begins describing how to log in to Blackboard. Be sure to log in and find your course no later than the first day of the semester. When you enter the course, you’ll likely be taken directly to the announcements section of your course. This is where your instructor might post updates about the class, and there could be a welcome message waiting for you when you log in that describes what you need to do first. In rare cases, instructors use a learning management system other than Blackboard to administer the course. This would probably be posted in the announcement section or communicated to you via email. Official university email will be sent to your UofL-assigned email account, so it’s important to check it regularly.

    If no announcements are posted, look for the course syllabus. Just like in a face-to-face course, the course syllabus is your guide for the semester. It will likely explain the structure of the course, grading criteria, assignments, deadlines, course policies, and more. If you can’t find the syllabus or you have questions, contact your instructor immediately. If you don’t know who is teaching your course, call the Office of Online Learning at 502.852.8870.

  • Click to Show/HideTime requirements

    Like face-to-face courses, each online course is different. The amount of time you’ll spend on coursework will vary by class, but they all have a few things in common. Online courses follow the academic calendar just like on-campus courses. Specific dates for each online course can be found in the online schedule of classes. Online courses are not self-paced. Your syllabus will usually outline what is expected of you each week—how much reading you need to do, assignments to turn in, etc. Since they are not self-paced, online classes include due dates. You will turn in assignments electronically throughout the semester on dates set by your instructor.

    Be prepared to spend at least as much time studying in an online class as you would in an on-campus class. Some students say that online courses require even more time than traditional classes. Before the course begins, make sure to set aside time for studying each week. Also, it is best to work on your course a little at a time rather than doing all work for a week in one study period. You should log into your course on a regular basis—at least once per day—to check for updates from your instructor, communication from your classmates, and more.

  • Click to Show/HideTeaching materials and assignments

    If you’ve taken a course on campus, you probably sat in a desk while a professor gave a lecture from the front of the classroom. This is hardly possible in an online course and, in fact, is not an effective way to teach in the online environment. Course content varies by course, but most will include some mix of textbook or journal readings, portions of video lectures, discussion boards, PowerPoint presentations, and more.

    Just like traditional courses, students in online courses complete group projects (online), write papers, and take exams (online or proctored). Most courses also require that students regularly participate in discussion boards, which allow you to discuss course topics with your classmates and instructor.

    Some students expect online courses to be easier than traditional courses. This is a myth! Online courses are different from traditional courses but usually just as challenging.

  • Click to Show/HideStudent and faculty interaction

    Online courses are student-centered. Your instructor assumes the role of a guide rather than a lecturer, and you glean information through assignments, readings, discussion board postings, and other tools your instructor may use. You must be an active learner in online courses. Your teacher is a facilitator and will help you learn the material, but you must take responsibility for your own learning. This includes communicating with your instructor if you don’t understand material, staying caught up on class readings, regularly logging into the course, and informing your instructor of assistance you may need or personal issues that affect your coursework. Also, it is important to note that e-mail sent from your instructor will go to your university-assigned email account, so be sure to check it regularly.

    You may be surprised by how much you communicate with other students in your online class. In fact, some students say they get to know their teachers and classmates in online courses better than in traditional courses. Students who say little in a traditional course often find it easier to participate in discussions in an online course. Your classmates are also one of your greatest resources when you need help. You’re not alone. If you need help, ask for it! The most successful online learners are not afraid to ask for help from their instructor or classmates.

  • Click to Show/HideCharacteristics of successful online learners

    Online learning has provided access to higher education to many students who cannot attend a traditional class. However, online learning is not for everyone. The most successful online learners possess the following qualities. They are…

    Online learning provides you with a great deal of flexibility; you can access your course when and where you want with little direct contact from your instructor. You must be motivated to keep up with coursework. If you get behind in the course, it will be very difficult to catch up.

    Independent learners
    Interactions between instructors and students in a traditional course are usually immediate. While your online course instructor will answer your questions and help with course material, it could take 24 hours or more to receive response to phone calls or e-mails. You must be comfortable learning in such an environment.

    Computer literate
    You don’t need to be an advanced computer user to succeed online, but it is helpful to start an online course with basic keyboarding skills, a basic knowledge of word processing software, and the ability to send and receive e-mail. It is also helpful to have an understanding of how to conduct research on the Internet.

    Good time managers
    Since your course schedule will not revolve around regular face-to-face class sessions, you must be able to set a schedule that allows you to meet course deadlines. Depending on the course, you might spend at least three to five hours per week on course-related activities. It takes a great deal of time management effort to balance this time with work, family, and other obligations you might have.

    Effective readers and writers
    Online courses require a great deal of reading and writing. You must be able to communicate thoughts and apply learned material through writing to other classmates and your instructor.

    Effective problem solvers
    You may face problems in your online course that are outside of your control. For example, your computer or Internet connection may malfunction, your electricity could go out, or you may have difficulty contacting your instructor. You must be able to think critically in such situations to determine the best course of action without becoming overly frustrated.

Have questions of need additional information? Use the Request Information button below, or visit the Student Services page for additional resources.

We look forward to welcoming you as an online student at UofL!

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