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Student online SuccesS Guide

Student WinsThere was a time when a student could do everything for their course without a computer or the Internet. Today, many instructors expect students to log into BlazeVIEW to get class handouts, submit papers, and check grades. Even if you’re not enrolled in an online course it is likely that your instructors will use BlazeVIEW to manage the class.

Success in your online classes depends upon many of the things that make you successful in traditional classes, especially planning and preparation.  BlazeVIEW is a course management system that simply provides a means for you to meet online; download and submit course content; participate in online discussions, and take online tests. Many of the things you will do in BlazeVIEW are probably similar tasks you may have performed with MySpace or Facebook (with the exception that your work may be graded).

This guide will provide you with helpful advice and important information that you’ll need as you work through online content and activities in your courses. This information will prepare you and your computer for an efficient and successful online experience.


Get your computer ready

Please follow all of the steps in the BlazeVIEW for Students Guide to ensure that your computer and Internet browser are properly configured for BlazeVIEW. It is essential that you verify settings such as pop-up blockers and Java settings for BlazeVIEW to function properly. If you plan to use your laptop computer to complete your course work, make sure that it is also configured for BlazeVIEW.


Know where and how to get help

If you need help with BlazeVIEW, don't panic.  VSU provides free technical support for BlazeVIEW users.  Learn how to get help.   When you report an issue - Be Specific!   For example, if you can’t download a file for an assignment, provide the name of the file and where it's located in the course (also be sure to state when your assignment is due).  Our online Help Request form will prompt you for the necessary information -  you can help us provide the best possible service by filling out the form completely.


Things to do on the first day of class

- Log into BlazeVIEW.  If you are taking a fully online course you should plan to login on the first day of scheduled class (Check your class schedule in the Banner Registration system of course start dates.)  Online instructors expect you to “show up” and participate just as you would in a face-to-face class. "Showing up" in the online environment means logging in and actively viewing the content and participating in any assigned activities.  If you don't login and participate in your online class , 1) You will fall behind with your course work, and 2) You may be dropped from class. The same is true for your face-to-face classes – if you don’t come to class you could be dropped for non-attendance. If you have trouble logging into your course, get help immediately.

- Find the syllabus. Your instructor will post the syllabus in your online course. Be sure to read it thoroughly to get an overall sense of how your instructor will conduct the class, when your assignments are due, etc.

- Take  a look around.  Go through your online course to see what's there. Check course schedules and any other documents your instructor has provided.  Explore the links in the course to get a sense of how the course is organized.

-Begin your coursework.  Follow the directions your instructor has provided to begin your coursework. This may include required reading, discussion postings, assignments, quizzes, etc.  Getting an early start on completing the required activities will help ensure your success in the course.


Follow Instructions

Carefully read the directions your instructor has provided.

- Are you supposed to Paste your work into the assignment text box or Attach a document?
- For a discussion activity, are you suppose to respond to one or two of your peers?
- Are you supposed to submit your assignment with the Assignment Tool or Mail Tool?

The above examples are just some of the things that you must pay close attention to when you are completing your online assignments. READ all instructions carefully and submit your work in exactly the manner your instructor describes. Ask questions if you do not understand.


Print Out Critical Materials

You may wish to print out critical instructions or materials for your course and keep them handy.  Consider printing the following:

- Course Syllabus
- Course outlines and lecture notes for convenient study
- Course schedule and due dates
- Assignment instructions

* If you are printing on campus be mindful of your print credits.  Printing certain documents can use up print credits quickly, especially  PowerPoint files. Learn how to print PowerPoint files in  "notes view".


Use BlazeVIEW Mail

If an online activity in BlazeVIEW instructs you to submit your work via email, send it through the Mail Tool within your BlazeVIEW coursesection, not via your student email account, Hotmail account, or any other external email system. BlazeVIEW mail is completely self-contained within the course.


Know the maintenance schedule

BlazeVIEW is a complex information system. To maintain optimum performance of the system the  VSU Information Technology Division performs system maintenance on a regular schedule. Occasionally, maintenance windows must be scheduled to accommodate unforeseen needs.  Times and dates of maintenance windows are published on the Vista Maintenance Calendar.    


Submit early

Submit Assignments early – don’t wait until the last minute.   If you encounter problems with your submission, you may miss the assignment deadline, and your instructor may not accept late work.


Have an alternate means of completing your work

If your personal computer is not working properly, do you have another means of getting online and completing your work?  Could you use a computer lab on campus, at the public library, at work, or at a friend’s home?  Before you are pressed with a crucial deadline, be sure to have a back-up plan.  As a VSU student, you can also check out a laptop from the Media Center which is located in the Odum Library.


Beware of timing out for inactivity

For security reasons, the BlazeVIEW course management system will time you out if you are inactive for a certain period of time.  If you pause in the middle of entering an assignment submission or discussion posting,  OR if you lose your internet connection in the middle of a session, your work will be lost!  To avoid losing work that you are to submit, you should compose your assignment in MS Word. Then you may copy and paste it into the assignment box, or add it as an attachment to the assignment submission, whichever path your instructor indicates is required.


Communicate with your instructor

You should stay in regular communication with your instructor.  You may be communicating on the discussion board, via the discussion board, or through assignment submissions and feedback. The important thing is to stay in touch.   Discuss issues with your instructor as they arise. Your instructor  will want to hear if you are having difficulty  or do not understand what to do for an assignment.


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