by George Rosa

The latest version of the CUNY Hostos Student Online Learning Preparedness “Are You Ready?” course has been updated with new content as well as changes to self-assessment questions and feedback.  The focus of the updates is to express to students the reality that anyone can learn in a completely online pedagogical environment using skills that can easily be acquired and mastered, skills that are really no more challenging to master than the ones required in today’s face-to-face courses.

The following are some of the new Do’s and Don’ts for each of the topic sections of the course. Although written for students, for instructors, these tips can be helpful both in developing your course syllabus and course requirements, or set policies and best practices recommendations.  Many of these are appropriate foe anyone, including instructors, who work online.

Welcome to CUNY Online Learning

…have access to an up-to-date desktop or laptop computer and hardware/software, and strong wifi or cable internet access.
…find a comfortable and organized workplace.
…communicate with your professor and classmates.
…read the syllabus and course calendar and keep track of any online meeting times and due dates.…be flexible.

…be afraid to speak up and ask questions.
…allow yourself to become disorganized or work in a location that has many distractions.
…turn in assignments late and miss deadlines.
…get discouraged.

Basic Technology Proficiency

…be familiar with and be able to navigate the CUNY and campus online environments – CUNYfirst, your campus website, campus email, campus support, and Blackboard.
…know your CUNY login for CUNYfirst and Blackboard, your campus email login, and the credentials required for both.
…use your campus email account for all course-related communication with your professors.
…know how to use the Blackboard user interface, add attachments, and browse for and upload files.
…be familiar with word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps and the file formats they generate.
…know which file formats can be uploaded to Blackboard and the best formats and file sizes for email attachments so that they can be opened by the recipient.
…keep copies of work submitted on your computer hard drive.

…use personal email for course-related communication with your professor.
…confuse your CUNYfirst login and your campus email login.
…submit work to your instructor by sending it via email if they have set up a way to submit it through Blackboard.
…upload file formats not listed as acceptable in Blackboard or that your professor may not be able to open.
…delete coursework documents from your local hard drive after copies were uploaded into Blackboard.

Using Blackboard

…know where to view announcements posted by your professor in Blackboard.
…contact your professor if you don’t see or haven’t received announcements.
…always check your campus email for any course-related communication.
…be familiar with and know how to use the different interactive tools you may be required to use for assignments in courses – Assignments, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Wikis, and emails, how to add file attachments to them, and the acceptable file formats.
…precisely follow your professor’s instructions on submitting assignments or posting to the interactive tools.
…know the live video conferencing tools that your professors will use, such as Collaborate Ultra and Zoom.

use the interactive tool for posting anything other than what you were instructed to post by the instructor.
as stated previously, attach file formats to the interactive tools not accepted by Blackboard or that cannot be opened by the professor or your classmates.

Technology Requirements

…use the Firefox browser for Blackboard and periodically download the latest version.
…know how to adjust the security settings for the browser, such as for the popup blocker.
…know which browser plugins will be needed in your courses and how to install them.
…use a good desktop or laptop computer with strong wifi or cable internet connection for work in Blackboard.
…use a phone or mobile device, if necessary, just for viewing announcements and course content.

…use Internet Explorer for accessing Blackboard.
…use a phone or other mobile device for taking tests or submitting assignments.


…understand what is meant by Netiquette and that socially acceptable behavior is necessary online just as anywhere else.
…be courteous and open-minded to your professors and classmates and maintain a positive and professional tone.
…keep all criticism constructive.
…ask questions if someone posts something you don’t understand.
…know the rules for proper writing etiquette online.
…respect privacy.
…read and be familiar with the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity.
…know what constitutes cheating, plagiarism and unfair advantage.
…contact your instructor if any problem occurs taking a test, submitting an assignment, or if the course is not visible or available.

…resort to personal attacks or hostile criticism when critiquing the professor’s or other students’ statements.
…write in a manner that is anything but mature and professional.
…use Blackboard interactive tools and campus email for socializing, spamming, harassing, or bullying.
…do anything in your coursework that can be interpreted as cheating, plagiarizing, or giving you an unfair advantage according to the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity.
…think that the online learning environment makes cheating easier and more advantageous than the classroom environment, or that any online assessment can be treated as open book.

Audsley, S. M. “Online Learning Do’s and Don’ts.” Keystone Onlinestudies, November 17, 2020.
Walsh, Jaclyn. “The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking an Online Class.” Peterson’s, November 8, 2019.



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