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Orientation: Getting Started with Online Learning

What Do I Need to Know to Get Started?

Students are sent a Quick-Start Syllabus to their NOVA Student gmail account. Your Quick Start Syllabus is course specific and you will receive one Quick Start Syllabus per course you are enrolled in through NOVA Online.

Read through the Quick-Start Syllabus to:

  • Make note of your instructors contact information.
  • Note your Critical Enrollment Dates.
  • Note the instructions on how to log into Canvas and access your NOVA Connect account.
Reminder: You will have access to your Canvas course site three days prior to the scheduled start date.

Once you have access to your course in Canvas, read through the full-length Syllabus to:

  • Review the list of course material to make sure you have everything required.
  • Become familiar with the technology used in your course.
  • Look for the description of how you will be graded.
  • Contact your instructor with any questions you have.
  • Make note of course specific due dates.
  • Begin your assignments.
Each course requires reading a textbook or other course materials. Additionally, a course may require using a study guide, course-specific computer software, video, or lab equipment. The materials you will need are listed in the course Online Syllabus. You can purchase these materials in the NOVA Online bookstore.

You will have your own enrollment dates which you can find in the Syllabus. Most NOVA Online courses follow a 15-week schedule although some courses may be accelerated with the instructor’s permission. The Enrollment Dates include:

  • Start Date: This is your official start date to begin your course.
  • Last Refund Date: You may withdraw up to this date and have your tuition money returned.
  • First Assignment Due Date: You must submit a required assignment before this date or you will be administratively deleted with no tuition refund.
  • Last Date for Withdrawal: You may request a withdrawal up to this point and receive a W grade. After this date, you will receive the grade you deserve based on the work you have completed. Instructors also use this date to withdraw students who have not completed the amount of work as specified by their instructors.
  • End of Enrollment date: This is the day your enrollment ends.

If you are making progress in your course, as specified by your instructor, as you near the end of your enrollment, you may request an incomplete. This would allow you to have additional time in which to complete the remaining assignments.

You can contact your course instructor by phone or by email. You can find your instructor's phone numbers, email addresses and office hours listed in the Syllabus.

Note that when the college is closed, such as on holidays and between semesters, your instructor may not be available.

All students have various techniques that work for them when they are studying. Techniques that seem to help distance students include:

  • Creating a definite weekly schedule of when you will study each course. Determine which parts of the day/week are best for you, schedule 1/2 - 1 hour at a time, write it down and stick to it, regardless of what else might be tempting you. Remember that most 3-credit courses will require 6-9 hours of study per week.
  • Previewing your chapter by looking at headings and pictures, reading the chapter through once, then going back and outlining the chapter so you don't have to read the whole thing again before the test. Try different outlining techniques: drawing pictures of relationships, using colors to show relationships, putting your outline on audio tape so you can play it back at your convenience (in the car or on your headset while exercising).
  • Using a stack of index cards, put a question or word on the front and answer on the back, as a quick testing tool. You can use your index cards on the subway, during lunch hour, or any other time when you have a few minutes to spare.
  • Using as many senses as possible to learn the material. Try reading aloud, quizzing yourself out loud or having someone else quiz you. Make charts, graphs, and pictures of concepts. Associate sounds, tastes, and smells with terminology to create associations to help you remember.

And when it comes to the test…

Most instructors provide information online or in the Course Guide, about the kinds of test questions and the length of the exam. If you have questions, contact your instructor.

Review, review, review, and then relax.

Take this post-test to see how much you know about getting started with online learning

1. When you enroll in a NOVA Online course, what emailed document should you receive in your NOVA Student gmail account prior to your course start date?

2. What information will you find in a full-length Syllabus?

3. What information will you find in a Quick-Start syllabus?

4. Critical Dates on your Syllabus include which of the following?

Important Dates

Be sure to review the Important Dates each semester to prevent possible automatic withdrawal from your class.

View Important Dates