What to Expect in Online Courses

In each online course you’ll find most of the navigation is similar with tools and essential elements in the same place.

The interface has four main areas:

  • Tabs – Navigate to My Institution and other areas
  • Breadcrumbs – Navigation path shows where you are
  • Course menu – Links to tools and resources
  • Content area – All course content is in this area

Online courses at Excelsior University are broken down into these learning modules, which are listed in order on the Homepage. Modules are chunks of related information and activities. Some modules may be one week long, while others may last multiple weeks. Refer to the Course Schedule in the Course Syllabus for more information on how long each module will last and when activities are due.

Each module generally contains:

  • An overview statement, orienting you to the topics covered in the module
  • Course and module outcomes, which are goals for completing the module
  • Lecture or instructor notes, presentations, charts, etc. that explain the topics of the module
  • Textbook readings, links to websites, videos, etc. that are required for you to complete for the module
  • Activities to complete during the module, such as:
    • discussions
    • assignments
    • quizzes
    • exams
    • journals
  • Course-related questions discussion area where you can ask your instructor or classmates questions about the topics or activities in the module

Messages are a way to communicate privately with your instructor and other students within the course. The Mail tool, or “My Messages”, is located in the Course Menu. Please note that this is not an e-mail account. People outside of the course cannot send messages to this Message box, nor can you send message to people other than those in that particular course. If you are enrolled in multiple courses, you will have a separate Message box for each course.

You will find at least one discussion question in each module. Discussion are a vital part of the online course experience. The Discussion Board allows students and instructors to post, read, and reply to messages posted from within a course. Discussions are strings of messages that have been posted and replied to. For example, one person can post a discussion message, and another person can read that message, post a reply, or choose to post their own unrelated message.

Assignments are one type of evaluation method that your instructor may choose to have you complete as part of your course. They can consist of many different kinds of submissions such as essay questions, papers, case studies, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Each assignment will include instructions and/or attachments, grading criteria and a due date.

Assessments are one type of evaluation method that your instructor may choose to have you complete as part of your course. Assessments are given in one of three forms: quiz, survey, or self-test and may have a variety of different question types. Your instructor will post instructions for each assessment, set a due date and timer (if applicable). Depending on the course and your instructor, there may be one or more assessments within each course.

The My Grades tool displays grades for completed activities, such as assessments, assignments, graded discussion posts, etc. Your instructor controls which grades you will be able to see in this area. It is possible that not all of your grades will be listed in the My Grades tool since your instructor controls the release of grades. If your instructor has chosen to display a grade for a particular activity but has not yet graded the activity, you will see the Needs Grading icon. If you have questions about what grades do/do not display in the My Grades tool, please contact your instructor. If your instructor has used a Grading Form to determine your grade, you can view the completed form by viewing the attempt.

The activity status, which is listed in the Grade column (see above) displays in the form of an icon. There is always an Icon Legend handy underneath the My Grades rows. The icons stand for the following:

When you enroll in an online course you will gain access to BB100: Getting Started – Blackboard Orientation for Students. This orientation course will provide you will a detailed understanding of how Excelsior University uses Blackboard for online course and what you will encounter when taking an online course. We strongly recommend that you complete the Blackboard orientation prior to beginning your course.