Student Help: Moving Classes Online
As you prepare for the transition to a fully online learning environment, we have been preparing some information and resources you may find useful in adjusting to this change and achieving your educational goals.
We know that this may not be how you envisioned your learning experience at ODU this semester, but we are committed to providing everyone with the opportunity to make progress toward the ultimate goal—graduation.
How will I take class online?
Your instructors will decide how to conduct class online and contact you with this information. Check your ODU student email regularly for updates.
We know this change will be challenging for our students as well as our faculty. Moving class online will affect how you connect with your classmates and your instructor, and it may change how you submit homework or take exams.
Here's a quick checklist to help you prepare for online classes:
- I have access to a laptop or other computer with a reliable Internet connection.
- I am checking my ODU student email regularly for updates from my instructors.
- I know where to find my course in Blackboard.
- I have access to my homework files, such as Word documents, either online or on my computer.
- I have headphones to listen to a live online class.
What if I can't connect to my live online class? We have asked faculty teaching "live" online classes to record their lectures and make them available in Blackboard. If you are unable to attend the live streaming course lectures, you should review the archived lectures in a timely manner.
Please remember that we're all adjusting to this new situation together. Our faculty and staff have been working hard to find solutions for each class, and we're grateful for their efforts. But this also means that your newly-online classes won't be perfect -- expect updates and adjustments from your instructors as everyone adapts.
What about quizzes and exams?
Your instructor will decide how to conduct assessments while your face-to-face class is online. ODU has two main tools for online exams: Blackboard and ProctorU.
- Your instructor has the ability to add assessments in your course's Blackboard area. Some exams may require the Respondus Lockdown browser. If your instructor tells you that you need to use this option, review the Respondus LockDown Browser Guide (PDF).
- ProctorU is an online service that provides a human proctor to observe your online exam. It's the online version of having your instructor at the front of the classroom while you complete the exam. With ProctorU, each student schedules a specific day and time to take their online exam. If your instructor wants to use ProctorU, click here to review ProctorU instructions for students.
Please wait for information from your instructor, or contact them for clarification about your exams. Some instructors also may change the type of assessment (multiple choice, short answer, etc.) so it is easier to complete online.
What about final exams?
On-campus final exams are typically offered in a three-hour time frame. This semester, final exams will follow the distance learning exam policy, which provides a wider window in which students can take their exams.
All final exams will be available for students to complete in a minimum 24-hour window as defined by the professor, including one business day, during the final exam period as defined for that course.
Your professor may still set a time limit for the actual exam. For example, your professor may require you to complete the exam in one hour. However, you can choose to complete the exam at any time within that course's 24-hour final exam window.
If you have questions or need clarification about final exams, please contact your professors.
How can I access academic resources online?
ODU has a wide variety of online academic resources, from library services to tutoring. In addition, campus offices are transitioning to online tools for meetings and appointments.
Do I need new software?
Your instructor will decide which tools to use for your online class and coursework. Blackboard is ODU's learning management system, so your instructor will probably upload materials and assignments there.
For live classes, ODU supports the Zoom and Webex web conferencing apps. Zoom and Webex both work in a web browser, which means you don't have to download any additional software. When you launch Zoom or Webex in your browser for the first time, they will ask permission to launch an add-on to start the meeting. Click OK or Yes to allow the add-on.
Free Software for ODU Students
All of these apps can be used in a web browser, without downloading or installing them on your computer.
- Microsoft Office 365: Apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint can be accessed online through your MIDAS login. You can also download and install them on your computer to use offline.
- Zoom: Connect to Zoom meetings for class or virtual office hours, or create your own web conference meetings for group work and study sessions.
- Box at ODU: Up to 50GB of free online storage space for saving and sending files or collaborating online.
- G Suite for Education (Google Apps): Free use of Google's G Suite features, including Google Drive and Hangouts.
Web Conference Class Guides
- How to use Webex in Live Online Classes
- Webex Class Test -- Try out Webex before you need to connect to class.
- Zoom Conference Test -- Try out Zoom before you need to connect to class.
For Technical Support
Tips for Taking Class Online
1. Treat online class like being at school.
Establish a time when you will work on assignments or prepare for class. If you have live online class meetings, get dressed and keep your course materials with you, just like you would for an in-person class. If you are used to taking notes on your laptop or by hand, do the same thing in your online class.
Plan to send more emails or make calls to instructors as needed. Please don't make assumptions about assignments or exams. It's always better to ask! Is something unclear? Ask for clarification. We're doing our best to help you, and your questions will guide us, too.
Ask your instructor and classmates if anyone wants to connect outside of regular class time. With video tools like Zoom or Facetime, you can create a "social hour" to chat with your friends and classmates. If you are used to having a regular class together, this can help everyone feel less isolated. Just don't use it as an excuse to avoid homework.
If you have a live online class, keep these in mind:
- Pauses between questions and answers may be longer than usual during online conversations, due to everyone's Internet speeds.
- Speak clearly so everyone can hear you.
- We recommend using a webcam so you and your classmates can see each other. If you don't have a webcam, attend class anyway! If your Internet connection slows down too much with a webcam, turn it off so you can remain connected to class. You will still benefit from the live discussion.
- If you are using a webcam, make eye contact when you are talking to others.
- Have patience with yourself and your classmates as you learn how the webconferencing software works.
3. Set up your workspace.
Choose a specific place in your home where you can do class work without any distractions. Try to avoid areas that are frequently occupied by others, like the living room or family room. Make sure you have plenty of light. If needed, add a lamp, table or chair to help you stay comfortable while you work.
Use your set working time to focus on school work. Turn off social media and video. If you concentrate only on your classwork, you may finish it more quickly.
4. Take breaks when needed.
It's easy to get so focused that we forget to get and move around. Take a break to check on your family or roommates, get a snack, or step outside for some fresh air.
5. Seek out help if you need it.
Please be in frequent contact with your instructor with any questions about course material or expectations.
If you are having difficulty completing assignments or attending online class due to other responsibilities:
- Tell your instructor and academic advisor.
- Contact the Student Outreach & Support (S.O.S.) and ODU Cares teams at firstname.lastname@example.org. These teams provide services to students who experience administrative, academic, or personal road blocks in their academic career.
Special thanks to Dr. Brittany Samulski for these tips.