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Orientation: Getting Started with Online Learning

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Start Here - Orientation Modules

Online Learning through the Extended Learning Institute (ELI) provides students with the opportunity to take the same classes offered on campus but in a different format. Many ELI courses may be completed at home, while stationed abroad, or on the road, if traveling. The orientation modules below will help you prepare for a successful term.

Next Step - Participate in a Webinar

Choose the session that best fits your needs:


Enrolled in your online courses?

ELI Orientation Webinar

  • General overview that will focus on navigating your Blackboard course site, testing policies, and identifying tips for success and student support services.
  • Recommended for students who are new to online learning.
  • This webinar will not satisfy the Student Orientation requirement for the Start Strong Policy at NOVA. Please refer to the New Student Orientation on the Not enrolled in courses? tab above.

Not enrolled in courses?

Need Help Enrolling? Join Us:

Are you a first-time-to-college student?
The New Student Orientation will help you prepare your academic plan, identify your academic and career goals, and register for your courses.


Enroll on your own using these tutorials:

Before You Start - Explore a Sample Course

Each online course has a course site in Blackboard. Students are given access to their course on the scheduled course start date. You can explore a sample blackboard course site before your course begins to get an idea of the course format and practice submitting an assignment and posting on the discussion board.

This sample course is a typical online course. We encourage you to login to the course, and see if the online experience is for you.

  • Enter Sample Course (a new window will open)
  • Enter the username nvtrain17 and password eliorient
  • Click the Login button
  • Under My Blackboard Courses, click the ELI Orientation link

In addition, you can view short videos from Blackboard to review how to submit an assignment, post on discussion board, check grades, and many more topics.

On your first day

Visit the ELI Student Blog for tips for success in online courses. Specifically read through Critical Course Deadlines and Preparing for your First Day for tips for success.

  1. Log in to your My NOVA account using your VCCS username and password.
  2. Select “Blackboard Learn” from the My Tools Section.
  3. Find your courses in the “My Blackboard Courses” section and enter each course site.
  4. Read the course syllabus in detail. Make sure you are comfortable with the pace of the course.
  5. Get started on your first week’s assignments. You must complete the first assignment by the assigned deadline to avoid being administratively dropped from the course for non-participation.
  6. Establish a Routine! All online classes, regardless of session length, are based on the full 16-week course material; 12, 8 and 6 week courses will move at an accelerated pace.
  7. Plan Ahead! All online classes require proctored exams or assignments. Plan ahead for your proctored exams so you don’t miss any deadlines. Check your course syllabus and review testing policies.
  8. Let ELI staff know if you have any questions.

Do you live outside of Virginia and want to take online classes?

Northern Virginia Community College, as a member of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus, has reciprocal agreements with other SREB member states that allow students living in those states to take NOVA online courses through ELI. In addition, NOVA meets the requirements of many other states, so that students living in those states may also take NOVA online courses through ELI.

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Important Dates

Be sure to review the Important Dates for this semester to prevent automatic withdrawal from your class.

Learn More

Featured Webinars

OER and Online Courses

A growing number of our online courses use high-quality, openly licensed educational materials, eliminating the need to purchase textbooks. NOVA's award-winning innovative OER project provides a comprehensive approach to addressing access, affordability, and student success through the use of open educational resources.

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