Online classes at Hostos Community College afford students the opportunity to fulfill credit requirements away from campus.

The advantages of taking an online course:

  • Access your course anytime day or night, anywhere with an internet connection
  • Connect with your professor or other students as needed online
  • Participate in discussions and review course content at your own pace

All online instruction is presented on Blackboard, the Course Management System that is the platform for all online learning across CUNY.

To succeed in an online course, students must have:

  • proficient computer skills
  • feel comfortable enough working at a computer for hours at a time

All online instruction is presented on Blackboard. Students are expected to access Blackboard on a regular basis, check announcements, and participate in any activities and assignments posted by the professor of the course. Professors are required to submit verification of student attendance two weeks into the semester.

Successful online students also:

  • are self-motivated, and do not need a lot of supervision from an instructor
  • are committed to learning independently
  • feel comfortable managing their own time

The course work for online classes are as time intensive as traditional offline classes. Students can expect to put in as much effort in an online course as in a traditional face-to-face class. The need to schedule one’s own time for learning is both an advantage and a challenge for online students.  All students who want to take an online course should consult their academic advisor and/or e-mail the course instructor with questions before registering for the course.

Online learning is NOT for everyone. Individuals who prefer face-to-face communication or learning in a group environment should weigh these factors while deciding whether an online course is appropriate.

Keep reading to find out whether you are prepared to take an online class.

You can assess whether you are prepared to become an online student or whether online instruction suits your needs.

“Are You Ready?” is a mini online readiness course designed by Hostos Community College to offer an introduction to a Blackboard course.

See detailed information about “Are You Ready?” and how to access the course on Blackboard. 

There are two video web conference systems available to students for Online Learning.

What Is Blackboard Collaborate Ultra?  

Blackboard Collaborate Ultra is a tool for conducting video conferences over a Web connection via computer, tablet, or smartphone. These conferences are accessible via links to virtual rooms within courses in Blackboard Learn. They can be recorded for later use, with links to the recordings placed within one or more courses. 

In each course, the virtual conference room is available at all times; however, instructors may limit their availability to predetermined time frames by creating sessions. Users who cannot attend a conference in real time may watch a recording of it afterward, assuming an instructor has recorded it.  

Video: Blackboard Collaborate with the Ultra experience user interface tour 

Requirements for Using Collaborate 

To participate in a session of Blackboard Collaborate with both audio and video, users should have equipment and software that meet or exceed certain minimum standards.  

Collaborate Ultra works with nearly all modern web browsers for computers and mobile devices. However, Blackboard recommends using either Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.  

What is Zoom? 

TheZoom video conferencing system is used to support online classes.  Your professor may also use the system for other purposes, such as hosting a guest speaker or holding online office hours. 

How to Access a Zoom Meeting or Class Session: Getting to Zoom for the First Time 

Click on the link provided to you by your professor to join the Zoom meeting. Once you click on the link, Zoom will ask you if you would like to download the Zoom application or to use your web browser. You should click “download and Run Zoom” to download the application: 

After Zoom downloads, follow the directions on your computer to install the application. 

NOTE: You will only need to install the Zoom application once. 

Once the app is installed, you will be asked if you want to join the meeting with video. Choose “Join with Video. 

Next, you’ll the be asked if you want to join with audio. Click on the big blue button that says “Join with Computer Audio.” 

Tip: If you don’t want to be prompted for this the next time you join, check “Automatically join audio by computer when joining a meeting. 

Getting to Zoom the Second Time 

The next time you follow a link to Zoom, you may be prompted to “Open app.” Click on “Open app.” 

You’ll have to follow the steps again to join your video and audio, and then you’ll be taken to the meeting. 

How to share your screen 

In your classes, your professor may ask you to share your work on your computer screen. To do so, you will use the “Share screen” function in Zoom. 

Simply put your cursor at the bottom of the screen and click Share Screen: 

Zoom will open up a pop-up window where you can select what you wish to share. Click on Desktop and click on “Share screen” button on the lower right: 

To stop sharing your screen after you finish your presentation click on “Stop Share” button on top of your computer screen. 

Learning to Learn Online: A free textbook prepares students to become proficient, self directed learners in an online environment

Being an independent learner and online student requires extra attention to a few factors that could be your key to the successful completion of an online course.

Know when and where to get help:

  • Can you recognize when you need help?
  • Do you know the steps you can take to identify resources that can help you?

As an online student, you will not have an instructor observing your body language and facial expressions in a classroom, looking for signs of understanding. Likewise, you will not be able to simply walk up to your professor to ask for help. It is in your best interest to proactively seek help when you are confused or struggling with any aspect of the online course.

Instructors will tell you at the beginning of the course what are the best ways and times to reach them, and how long it will take to get back to your message. This information is typically found on the course syllabus too. All e-mail communications from your instructor will be sent to your Hostos e-mail (  If you DO NOT know your username or password, use the Student Email Lookup Tool.

Build a toolkit of resources: In the process of becoming an empowered, successful student, you learn how to identify the people and tools that could help you solve problems and attain your goals. This asks you to understand that you will meet obstacles along the way towards reaching any meaningful goal.

Your professor is not the only resource available to you, and may not even be the best person to address a problem. For example, there may be a discussion board in your online course where students can offer each other solutions. Being willing to explore different options when seeking help eventually leads you to build a toolkit of useful resources, and support you in becoming an effective problem solver in any situation.

To get you started, keep reading for more tips. We also suggest a list of helpful resources below in Get Support.

Time management:

  • Do you organize your schedule well to give yourself enough time for assignments as well as instruction?

In an asynchronous course, all the instruction and material that you need to learn for the course is presented online. You aren’t expected to show up in a classroom for a certain number of hours each week, but you can expect to spend just as much time getting the information on Blackboard. In a hybrid course, only part of the material will be taught in a face-to-face classroom, so you can also plan to spend some time online to access the rest of the instruction.

Making a schedule for yourself to log onto your Blackboard course can be the first step to paving the road to success. Maintaining a calendar with reminders of due dates for assignments and exams helps you plan to have enough time to prepare and do the work.

The following tutorial can help you with developing the skills needed to be successful in an online course.

Interactive Tools: (used under Creative Commons license)

Creative Commons License Info: © 2016 Chancellor’s Office, California Community Colleges
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. They are available to everyone and may be repurposed to meet the unique needs of educational institutions.


  • Are you comfortable sending messages to your professors and your classmates?
  • Are you willing to review your writing for clarity before you send/post messages?

Just like your assignments, any messages you send need to be clearly communicated and comprehensible because that is how you interact in an online class. Messages that are vague, missing important information, or hard to understand slow down the pace of communication and cause delays in getting the support you may need. If you think you would like help improving your writing ability, you can make an appointment with a tutor at the Writing Center on the Hostos campus.

Here is an online tutorial that can give you more information about communicating in an online course:

Although an online class allows you the flexibility to access it anytime you like, it’s important to log in frequently enough so that you see timely information and announcements from your professor, or messages from classmates.

You may also receive e-mails from your professor. All e-mail communication will be sent to your Hostos e-mail (  If you DO NOT know your username or password, use the Student Email Lookup Tool.

Hostos Community College implements online instruction in two modalities, designated by CUNY:

Hybrid courses are a mix of online learning and classroom instruction; students meet in a classroom less frequently than they would for a traditional face-to-face class; many hybrid courses meet approximately once a week in a classroom. Students are expected to complete anywhere from 33% to 67% of their coursework online, and are typically expected to access Blackboard to review additional content that is not covered during their time in a classroom. All in-person and synchronous online class meeting times must be listed in the schedule of classes for students.

Online courses are fully online; all instruction, content and assignments are presented on Blackboard. All coursework and tests must be completed or submitted online. Course activities may be asynchronous and/or synchronous.

In synchronous activities, students are expected to be present at the same time on Blackboard (for a live video meeting with instructor, for example.) In asynchronous activities, students are not required to log in to the virtual classroom at a specified time. Students do not have to follow a strict schedule, and the only requirement regarding when they turn in their work is the assignment deadline, which are maintained and included on the class syllabus.

The interaction between the instructor and the students, as well as between students, occurs mainly through writing, reading of posts and participating in online discussions. For this reason, asynchronous courses require writing and reading time in addition to the completion of assignments, required readings, and projects. Lectures may be presented online in text and some courses require students to participate in a discussion forum. Online students need to be able to express themselves effectively in writing, and must have a sense of self-advocacy when they encounter issues that stand in the way of progressing through the course.

How do I register for online courses?

Students may want to consult their academic advisor before registering for online courses, to get a better understanding about the online course options that would count towards a  degree.

Currently available courses

In order to register for an online course, you need to log in on CUNYfirst. If you have not claimed your CUNYfirst account, you must do so before accessing Blackboard. Your CUNY Login username is your CUNYfirst username followed by and your CUNYfirst password. For example, if you log into CUNYfirst as george.washington76, your CUNY Login will be

Once you are on CUNYfirst:

  1. Use the Search for Classes to look for Fully Online and/or Hybrid classes.
  2. You will find these two classifications under the “Additional Search Criteria” option. Select either Hybrid or Fully Online under “Mode of Instruction.”

Once you’ve registered, there’s still plenty to do to get ready for day one of your online class, such as how to access Blackboard, navigate your online course, and where to get your textbooks.

Where do I access my textbooks? 

All textbooks and course materials are available for purchase on the Hostos Community College online bookstore. Ordering books is done completely online. Students can have their course materials shipped to them at their desired address, or to the Hostos college campus where they can be picked up.

In the event textbook information does not appear in the bookstore, contact faculty directly.

Online courses are accessed using Blackboard, CUNY’s enterprise Course Management System (CMS), centrally supported and managed by the Office of Computing and Information Services. Blackboard is accessed from the top navigational menu bar on the Hostos Community College website. Access to Blackboard requires your CUNY Login credentials.

If you have not claimed your CUNYfirst account, you must do so before accessing Blackboard. Your CUNY Login username is your CUNYfirst username followed by and your CUNYfirst password. For example, if you log into CUNYfirst as george.washington76, your CUNY Login will be For a more detailed guide about logging in, download this document.

Preparing to use Blackboard

As an online student,  you need…

  • To have basic grasp of computer literacy
  • Be familiar with using internet browsers, pop-ups, plugins
  • Be familiar with productivity software such as Microsoft Office

Be aware that some browsers work better with Blackboard 9.1 than others. Mozilla Firefox is generally recognized as the best choice for accessing CUNY Blackboard 9.1. Blackboard needs to be accessed from either WINDOWS or macOS, NOT IOS or ANDROID.

For the latest information on browsers supported by Blackboard, see Browser Support.

You can check your browser compatibility on this page: Browser Compatibility with Blackboard

The Microsoft Office Training for Students course is designed to prepare students for Microsoft Office skills. This course will cover three modules: MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint.

To access the ‘Microsoft Office Training for Students’ module:

  1. Navigate to the Hostos Home Page.
  2. Click on ‘Login To’ and select ‘Blackboard’.
  3. Use your CUNYfirst credentials to log in.
  4. Scroll down the right side of the page and find the Hostos Microsoft Office Training for Students eLearning Course pictured below, and ‘Click to enroll’.
  5. Click on ‘Submit’.Microsoft Office Training for Students
  1. You will then see a confirmation page, click OK to begin the module.

Student Help Desk: This Student Help Desk is located in room C-595 on the Hostos campus. Tech tutors provide technical support, basic assistance with the use of applications installed on the computers and with online resources available to students such as Hostos e-mail, Blackboard and online libraries. If you are not on campus, you may call them at (718) 518-6622

Student workshops: The Office of Educational Technology offers student workshops on topics such as Microsoft Office, Excel, Powerpoint, Blackboard, and ePortfolios. Register for a workshop here.

Tutoring services: The Hostos Academic Learning Center (HALC), located in C-596, offers tutoring in a range of subjects and activities that focus on the skills development of students. Tutors work with students either one-on-one or in small groups to provide general course review and pre-exam preparation. Students can drop in their office at C-596 or call (718) 518-6624. Check their calendar to find out when the center is open.

Writing help: Online courses are typically writing intensive because all communication is in writing. The Writing Center, located in C-596A, offers one-on-one and small-group tutoring to help students improve their writing skills. Students can drop in the office (check their calendar for office hours) or make an appointment online.

Accessibility Resource Center: The Accessibility Resource Center (ARC) at Hostos Community College provides students with academic support and accommodations, use of a private accessible computer lab and training in the use of assistive technologies.  Students with disabilities are encouraged to register with ARC to take full advantages of services.

Blackboard Help website provides support for college students.

Blackboard Student User Guides: The CUNY Blackboard website has user guides that provide useful information on how to get the most out of Blackboard. Presented in a variety of text and video formats, the information will help you perform many common Blackboard tasks.

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