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Orientation: Getting Started with Online Learning

Start Here: Orientation Modules

Online Learning through NOVA Online provides students with the opportunity to take the same classes offered on campus but in a different format. Many NOVA Online courses may be completed at home, while stationed abroad, or on the road, if traveling. The orientation modules below will help you prepare for a successful term.

Next Step: Orientation Sessions

NOVA Online Orientation

  • General overview that will focus on navigating your Canvas course site, testing policies, and identifying tips for success and student support services.
  • Recommended for students who are new to online learning.

NOVA Online Orientation is a two-part video recording providing a general overview for students enrolled in NOVA Online courses offered through Northern Virginia Community College.

Need Help Enrolling? Join Us:

Are you a first-time-to-college student?

New2NOVA is NOVA's online, interactive orientation program available to all incoming students. The program provides new students with an introduction to NOVA including information about academic programs, policies, procedures, student services and other valuable resources available to you as a NOVA student.

All students are strongly encouraged to complete New2NOVA prior to enrolling in courses at NOVA. Select the NOVA Online track to learn information that is useful and important for students taking NOVA Online sections.


You can also enroll on your own using these tutorials:

Before You Start: Explore a Sample Course

Each online course has a course site in Canvas. Students are given access to their course on the scheduled course start date. You can explore a sample Canvas course site before your course begins to get an idea of the course format and practice submitting an assignment and posting on the discussion board.

This sample course is a typical online course. We encourage you to login to the course, and see if the online experience is for you.

  • Sample Course coming soon!

In addition, you can view a few short videos on Canvas to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, and many more topics.

On Your First Day

Visit the NOVA Online Student Blog for tips for success in online courses. Specifically read through Critical Course Deadlines and Preparing for your First Day for tips for success.

  • Log in to your   My NOVA  account using your VCCS username and password.
  • Select “Canvas” from the My Tools Section.
  • Find your courses in the “Canvas Dashboard” section and enter each course site.
  • Read the course syllabus in detail. Make sure you are comfortable with the pace of the course.
  • Get started on your first week’s assignments. You must complete the first assignment by the assigned deadline to avoid being administratively dropped from the course for non-participation.
  • Establish a Routine!  All online classes, regardless of session length, are based on the full 15-week course material; 12, 8 and 5 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.
  • Plan Ahead!  All online classes require proctored exams or assignments. Plan ahead for your proctored exams so you don’t miss any deadlines. Check your course syllabus and review testing policies.
  • Let NOVA Online staff know if you have any questions.

Do you live outside Virginia and want to take online classes?

Northern Virginia Community College, as a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements, has reciprocal agreements with most states to allow students living in those states to take NOVA online courses through NOVA Online.

Learn More About Reciprocity

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