What to do the First Day in Online Courses

No first day of class looks the same for University of Louisiana at Lafayette online students.

For some, the first day of class starts alongside a morning cup of coffee, others might open the UL Lafayette app during a lunch break, others won’t begin until all the day’s work is done and the rest of the household is asleep.

Regardless of when or how you log in to begin your semester, these are the things that online students need to do when classes open.

What to do your first day of online classes:

Log in to Moodle.

Moodle is your online classroom so it’s important to log in and familiarize yourself with where and how your instructor has provided information you’ll use throughout the course.

In some courses, it’s a requirement that you log in on the first day or you’ll be dropped from the class.

This is also a good time to make sure your email is active. Log in by clicking “Email” in the top navigation in Moodle. Make a habit of checking your University email daily so you don’t miss important information and updates.

Review the Syllabus.

It was in the syllabus. It’s still in the syllabus. It’s always in the syllabus.

This is a favorite dictum of instructors because it’s largely true — the syllabus provides your roadmap for the semester and will indicate additional information you may need to know.

Read your syllabus to understand course policies and expectations, and to learn whether you’ll need additional equipment — microphone, webcam — or if you’ll need to plan for proctored exams.

If your computer is equipped with a microphone and webcam, you likely have all the equipment you’ll need. However, take some time to test them to make sure they’re up to par.

If your instructor requires proctored exams, familiarize yourself with the service they’ll use and the associated fees and processes.

Once you’ve gotten a feel for the course, you can…  

Make a Plan.

With anticipated assignment due dates and deadlines at your fingertips, you can begin planning out your semester and blocking out extra time when you know you’ll have a big project or exam.

Plan blocks of time to devote to each course and stick to your schedule. Post your schedule in a prominent location of the house that can be easily viewed by family or roommates. By creating a schedule and setting boundaries, you will find you are less distracted and more easily able to focus on your learning objectives.

It’s a good practice to review assignment due dates weekly to adjust your schedule as needed.

What to do your first week of online classes:

Get to know your instructor.

Many instructors incorporate introduction activities at the beginning of the semester to get to know students and help students get to know one another.

Even if this isn’t the case for your course, take an active role in building relationships with your instructors. 

  • Email your instructors to introduce yourself. 
  • Ask questions when you don’t fully understand an assignment.
  • Give feedback when you particularly like an assignment or find an activity problematic.
  • Take advantage of online office hours, when applicable.

Building meaningful connections with your online instructors can be valuable when you need letters of reference for internship or job applications.

Interact with your peers.

Forums are great for asking general course or assignment questions. There’s a good chance someone else in your course had the same question or has overcome a similar issue.

Participate in discussions with your classmates to gain a better understanding of course material and develop connections among your peers.

Having the support of other students going through the same experience can ultimately help you gain confidence in your study methods and work product.

Know someone who could use some back-to-school guidance? Share this blog! For more tips, follow UL Lafayette Online on Facebook.

About this Author
Hope has worked with online students for more than five years, telling their stories and sharing tips for succeeding as an online student.

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