When you study online you can work when and where you want to, and for as long as you like. This sounds almost too good to be true, and, if you're new to online learning, you probably have many questions about how this happens.
Our university uses Blackboard as its online classroom. Each of the courses you enrol in has a set of Blackboard webpages, and this is where you'll find course documentation as well as links to other course resources. Each course is different, and your lecturers will use different features of Blackboard to present their course as effectively as possible. For example, most lecturers will set up online discussion boards where you can ask questions, see answers and get to know others in your class. In addition, most lecturers will arrange for recordings of their lectures to be uploaded to Blackboard. There are several ways they do this, including using Echosystem (which lets you view and/or download a video of what was displayed and said during lectures) and/or separate audio recordings and slide presentations.
Online quizzes and assignments
Some lecturers will also set quizzes for you to answer online. These usually include multiple-choice questions but may involve other types of questions as well. During the course of your studies you will also be required to complete assignments, which you can also submit online (although some lecturers will require hardcopy versions of your work as well). Blackboard has facilities which allow you to do this and which also check to see that you have correctly acknowledged the sources of information you have consulted (See Turnitin). Your lecturers will mark your work and upload your marks to your own personal area of Blackboard. Depending on the nature of the assignment, your lecturers may provide you with additional comments on your work, generally through Blackboard as well.
Other online activities
Blackboard has many other features. For example, it has specific facilities which let you work with other students on group projects. These include discussion boards which are dedicated to your group, as well as file exchange and chat areas. In addition, you can work collaboratively using wiki's and keep a record of what you've done on your personal blog.
Being an online learner
Although online learning is convenient, you need to be disciplined about your studies. It's very easy to get distracted when you don't need attend face-to-face lectures and tutorials, so developing a study-routine is a good idea. Also, online study is a solitary activity. Working with other students (face-to-face or online) will help you stay motivated, so take the initiative and get to know your classmates.
Resources for online learning
Much of what you will need for your online studies will be available on Blackboard, but you may need to purchase textbooks for some courses. Be sure to consult the reading list in your course outlines for details. The main requirement of online learning is to be able to download large files fast... (a two hour Echosystem lecture may be 200Mb!)