Online Learning

Online courses pose students with unique opportunities and challenges, depending on one's learning style, condition(s), and strengths. Here are some helpful hints for online courses.

  • If you believe your access plan as written will not provide you equal access to an online course, contact your access coordinator immediately. We can discuss what strategies, technologies, and/or accommodations might allow you to gain equal access.
  • Talk with your professor early. If possible, meet face-to-face before the course starts. You should discuss how your accommodations will translate into an online learning environment. Here are how some accommodations might impact you, depending on your disability:
    • Are there timed exams? Make sure your professor knows that you require extended time. Professors can easily grant individual students extended time on exams in Blackboard.
    • Do you receive any accommodations to help you get equal access to lectures or notes? In most cases, professors provide notes, slides, and/or lecture recordings to all students online. Talk about this with your professor to ensure you will receive these.
    • Do you receive E-text (electronic textbooks that your computer reads aloud) as an accommodation? If so, find out if your professor will be assigning readings that are available only in Brightspace. Some such readings, especially if they are image-based PDFs, may require changes to make them accessible. 
    • Are you blind or do you have low vision? Be sure to discuss your disability with the instructor as early as possible so you can ensure you will be able to have equal access. As soon as you have access to the course, log in and experiment. Are you able to use your screen reader or magnifier to access everything? Is there video content that is inaccessible?
    • Are you hard of hearing or Deaf? Ask your professor if there is any audio content in the course and discuss how it can be made accessible to you.
    • In all cases, let your instructor know that Disability Resources and Design Help are available to discuss how a course may be fully accessible.
  • Without a regularly scheduled class to attend, it is easy for some students to forget about the course amidst everything else in a busy life. Be sure to schedule regular times daily, or at least several times a week, that you will log in and attend to work in the course. Add those times and any major deadlines or exams to your daily planner, phone, or computer to remind you about them. Professional tutors in the Learning Center are a great resource for assistance in developing more time management and organization strategies.
  • Online courses often require writing in a discussion forum or another format in the Blackboard platform. If the network, your Internet connection, or your computer has a problem while you are writing, you could lose your work. Be sure to complete and save your writing in a word processing application like Microsoft Word first. Then, simply copy and paste it into Brightspace.
  • Many students learn best by interacting face-to-face with their professor and peers. In an online course, you may not have the opportunity to do this unless you take the initiative. Be sure to stop by your professor's office hours when possible to check in and ask questions. Contact others in the course and set up times to meet throughout the session. You could work on assignments, study for exams, or just informally chat about the course and life.