Is Online Learning For You?


Blackboard  - Your Online Classroom

Online Learning and Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities sometimes decide that taking online courses will be the solution to their accommodation needs. You may be considering online study for the same reasons. Please be aware that studying online can create the need for a whole different set of accomodations. You should enroll in an online course only after you have taken the time to carefully consider the requirements of the study and your strengths and weaknesses. The staff in the Online Learning and Services Office will work closely with the Disabilities Service Office and your instructor to address your needs.

Is online learning for you? Ask yourself these questions:

  • How well do I manage my time?  

The independent nature of online study requires a firm grasp on the ability to manage time. Students will be required to set a regular study schedule, keep track of assignments and due dates, as well as participate in online discussions. This may be more difficult without in-person reminders from an instructor. This requires discipline and self-motivation to ensure that the course is not forgotten in day-to-day activities. 

  • Does my disability affect my ability to process and comprehend written information?

For individuals with certain disabilities, managing the content, directions and discussion in an online course becomes increasingly difficult. Information in an online course is frequently delivered via written material on the course management system. The instructor will not be immediately available to deliver the information auditory or to provide clarification for any misunderstood concepts or assignments.

  • Will I need to utilize assistive technology to complete this course?

For some students with disabilities, the use of assistive technology is necessary. This can pose a challenge if some aspects of the online course management system are not compatible with assistive technology being used. Try using assistive technology with the sample course to identify any challenges that may be encoutered while engaged in online study.

  • How comfortable am I with computers and technology?

It is important to be comfortable with technology and computers. If basic computer skills are not already mastered, course material can seem much more mysterious and confusing. Accessing all course information and instruction in an online format can be intimidating and stressful for some students without a basic set of computer skills.

  • What do I expect of an online course?

It's important to be aware of the expectations of online courses. No two courses (or instructors) are exactly alike! Some students expect a high level of personal interaction, or very little in some instances. Before the course begins, consider contacting the instructor to find out as much as possible about the format of the course, the expectations the instructors have, and what needs to be done to successfully complete the course. The more information available prior to enrolling and beginning the study, the more successful students in online classes can be.

What is Blackboard Learn?

Student studying onlineBlackboard Learn is a web-based course management system designed to allow students and faculty to participate in classes delivered online (or to share online materials and activities to complement face-to-face teaching). Blackboard Learn enables instructors to provide students with course materials, discussion boards, virtual chat, online quizzes, online lectures, and more.

The degree to which Blackboard Learn is used in a course varies. Some instructors may supplement an on-campus class by putting their syllabus and handouts on their course sites--we call this a "web-enhanced class." In contrast, other courses may be conducted entirely through the system, without any on-campus sessions.

Each student is assigned a unique username and password to access the system.

How will I know if I need to sign into Blackboard?

If you are enrolled in a class that will be delivered fully online, you will definitely need to sign into Blackboard, as it will serve as your virtual classroom. If you are taking an on-campus class, your instructor will inform you if you need to access Blackboard.