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Orientation: Getting Started With Online Learning

What do I Need to Know About NOVA Online Courses?


  • Courses are made available in Canvas the first day the course is scheduled to begin. Once you have access to your course in Canvas you will see the full length syllabus and course requirements.

Basic Skills Required

  • Read and write in English
  • Operate a computer
  • Basic computer software programs such as MS Office
  • Access and browse the Internet
  • Create and send email (with/without attachment)
  • Manage time well
  • Study independently


Possible Additional Requirements

  • Class meetings/labs (less than 5 times)
  • Field trips
  • Group/individual course projects
  • Review course information thoroughly. Obtain your course information from the NOVA Online Web Site at, then choose your semester, discipline and course.
  • Know your critical enrollment dates: Enrollment, Refund, First Assignment Due Date, Inactive Students Dropped, Withdrawal and End of Enrollment. These dates are listed on your Syllabus.
  • For all official correspondence, use your VCCS email account assigned by the college.
  • Purchase your course textbook and other related materials.
  • Courses are made available the first day the course is scheduled to begin. Once the course is available in Canvas it will be listed on your Dashboard on the main Canvas page. If the course does not show on the Dashboard on the start date of your course, contact the instructor or call the NOVA Online Hotline at (703) 323-3347 or (888) 4DL-NVCC.
  • Complete and submit the first assignment.
  • Set up a schedule and stick to it.
  • Contact your instructor if you have questions, need assistance, need to withdraw from the course after your Last Withdrawal Date or request an extension on an assignment.

If you are enrolled in a NOVA Online course, your instructor expects that you already know how to:

  • Manage your time and study independently.
  • Read, write, and use basic computer software programs.
  • Purchase your course textbook and other related materials.
  • Create and send email (with/without attachment).
  • Be able to operate any specified technology used in the course.
  • Access and browse the Internet.
  • Contact your instructor if you have a question about an assignment or are having difficulty.
  • Contact your instructor if you wish to withdraw from the course or to request an extension.
  • If you are out of the area, submit the Proctor Request Form or use proctor u to have your exams proctored.

Thousands of NOVA Online students have been successful, and you can be, too. Because there are few or no classes to attend, YOU are responsible for directing your learning. The following are a few suggestions to help you succeed in your course:

  • Start as soon as your course begins.
  • Spend 2 to 3 hours per course credit per week studying for each course. A three-credit course requires 6 to 9 hours a week.
  • Establish a routine and stick with it throughout the semester. Schedule your study time like you would with on-campus courses. Set aside time each week to work on your assignments.
  • Back up your work! Establish a plan to back up assignments so you do not lose your work throughout the semester.
  • If you have questions, contact your instructor right away. Your instructor's contact information is in your course Syllabus.
  • Read the course material immediately so that you know what assignments are required and what time frame you have in which to complete them.
If you have a question, you can call the NOVA Online Hotline for assistance at 703-323-3347 or 1-888-4DL-NVCC.

NOVA Online staff members are generally available during these hours. Extended hours are often in place during peak registration periods around the beginning of the semester.
  • Monday through Friday: 8:30am-5pm
If you are hearing impaired, call the V/TDD number, 703-323-3717.

Take this post-test to see how much you know about NOVA Online courses.

1. You registered for a NOVA Online online course and are anxious to get started. Which of the following sources will provide information on your instructor, the course login, and your critical dates?

2. Taking a NOVA Online course requires certain basic technical skills in order to successfully complete a course. Which of the following skills are you most likely to use in an NOVA Online course?

3. In order to take an exam at a NOVA campus Testing Center, what do you need to bring?

4. Besides basic technical computer skills, what other basic skills should you have?

Important Dates

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

View Important Dates