Successful online students are self-motivated and self-disciplined. They are also effective time managers who are able to schedule 8 - 10 hours a week required by their online courses. Let's determine if online courses are right for you and how you can succeed online.

Readiness Quiz

Before you register for an online course, let's determine if you are ready to take an online course. Use the California State University, Stanislaus Online Course Readiness Quiz to see if an online environment is the right fit for you. The only question in this quiz that may not be relevant, is the third question. Replace the email with the email.

How To Succeed In an Online Course

  • Course Navigation

    • The first item you should look at is the course syllabus. This will provide a general overview of the course and what is expected from students. Though the syllabus is on Blackboard, it is a good idea to save the syllabus to your device(s). Instructors may make changes to the syllabus throughout the semester, so make sure to lookout for those announcements or emails.
    • Access course materials early. Have your books ordered before the first day of class, so you are prepared for course work.
    • Explore the course’s left navigation menu to see what is currently available. Instructors may set availability dates to content within the course, so make sure you are checking the course frequently.
    • Use free tools such as the Blackboard Calendar to input the due dates for discussions, assignments, tests, etc. This can help keep organized and stay on track.
  • Time Management

    • Since most of us have busy lifestyles, online courses are a great alternative to face-to-face courses. Just because online courses are more flexible, that does not mean you can spend less time learning the material. Make sure to provide enough time for readings, discussions, assignments, etc.
    • If the content is available, work ahead to stay ahead of the game. Do not get left behind, because online courses can move very quickly.
    • Online course may be a bit cumbersome for new students. Just like anything in life, it will take time to adapt.
  • Participation

    • Login as frequently as you can to complete discussions, assignments, tests, etc. Procrastination in an online course is never a good thing. Make sure to complete tasks earlier than later to prevent playing catch up.
    • If you have questions regarding assignments or other content within the course, please make sure you reach out to the Instructor for assistance. If you require assistance with tool functionality, please reach out to Blackboard Support ( Both are to make sure to keep good communication throughout the course duration.
  • Online Etiquette

    • Respect your peers by being polite and being aware of your tone. Please do not use offensive language or be confrontational.
    • Make a good impression by using spell check and checking your facts. Review your materials more than once to catch any errors.
    • Forgive your peers’ mistakes. Move forward and complete the work provided to the best of your ability.
    • Be brief and get straight to the point.
    • Cite your sources and obey the copyright laws.
  • Plagiarism

    • We cannot stress this enough, plagiarism is a very serious offense. If you are unsure about using someone else’s words to support your ideas, please reach out to the Writing Center.
  • Data Protection

    • It is best to type your discussion responses in Microsoft Word, or another word processor, before submitting to Blackboard. This will help minimize the risk of losing your content. Are you a GSU student that requires word processor like Microsoft Word? Please view the Microsoft Office Support page to learn how you can receive a free version of Microsoft Office.
    • Backup work you submitted to Blackboard to external hard disks or cloud services, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive or Dropbox.
    • Once Students have completed their Blackboard course, it will be available to them until approximately two weeks after the semester ends. After that time, the course will become unavailable in Blackboard. Students will need to contact the Instructor for the course to be reopened to retrieve materials. It's recommended to save or archive submitted coursework, for personal records, prior to the course closure.
  • Blackboard Issues

    • Technical issues can be frustrating. We ask that you please be patient during these difficult times and reach out so the issue can be resolved.
    • If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please notify your instructor right away to make them aware. Remember, communication!
    • If the issue is something your instructor cannot resolve, please contact Blackboard Support to further assist.
  • Educational Technology Support

    The Center for Teaching and Learning maintains the following technology:
    • Blackboard Learn: Blackboard is GSU's Learning Management System, which allows students to access course materials, participate in online discussions, submit online assessments, and more.
    • Blackboard Learn App: The Blackboard Learn App allows students a quick and easy way to oversee courses. Students also have the ability to connect with their instructor and other students and view their course content.
    • Class Collaborate: Class Collaborate is GSU's web conferencing software, which allows for students to meet with classmates and/or Instructor virtually. Instructors may setup virtual office hours, live lectures, or pre recorded lectures for students to access.
    • Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor: Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor a custom browser that only allows users to view the testing environment within the Learning Management System. In addition with LockDown Browser, Monitor uses a webcam and analytics to prevent cheating.
    • Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor: Student Learning & Licensure (formerly Via) is a tool used by faculty and administrators for assessment reporting on key assessment assignments against standards sets for department accreditation. It is also used by students for key assessment assignment submission and to create online portfolios.
    • VoiceThread: VoiceThread is an interactive collaboration and sharing tool, which allows students to access and comment on Instructors slides.

    ITS Helpdesk maintains the following technology:
    • Username/Password Issues: For software such as Blackboard, myGSU portal and Office 365 email, there is one username and password setup, which is handled by ITS. You may contact them to have your password reset.
    • MyGSU portal: The portal contains information regarding course registration, financial aid, links to GSU email, links to GSU Star, links to Blackboard, and more.
    • Microsoft products: GSU students have access to Microsoft Office 365 products for FREE.

    The Registrars Office maintains the following:
    • Add/Drop courses: Registering for classes is something that you look forward to each semester. Use your Student Study Plan, your Degree Audit, and your Academic Advisor as resources to assist you in selecting classes from the online schedule. Blackboard will reflect the changes shortly after the process is complete in their Colleague system.
    • Transcripts: Official transcripts are issued by the Office of the Registrar. Transcript requests are ordered online and are processed within five business days.
    • Student Information Change: In order to change your information in our database, you will need to complete a form.
  • Additional Resources

    • GSU has several student resources to help guide students to academic success.
      • Academic Support: Academic support resources available, such as the Academic Advising, Writing Center, Tutoring, Bookstore and Library.
      • Support Services: Student services resources, such as Public Safety, Dean of Students, Career Services, Counseling and Wellness, Financial Aid, New Student Programs, International Students and Center for the Junior Year.

Getting Started

If you are ready to take an online course and you understand how to succeed online, please register for online courses. You may use the Blackboard Student Orientation course, which is available to all GSU students, to get familiar with Blackboard tools and functionality.

If you are not yet ready to take online course, please access the Blackboard Student Orientation course. This will provide you with a better understanding of how online courses work, familiarizing yourself with tools/functionality, and other useful online tips.

The Blackboard Course List will mirror the courses you signed up for in the myGSU portal. The courses will be available in Blackboard from the first day of the semester until two weeks after the semester is over. Students will not be able to view those courses outside of this timeframe. Late start courses will be available later in the semester, so please check your myGSU course schedule for those alternate dates.

Accessing Blackboard

  • Where to Find Blackboard

    You may access Blackboard from three different areas:
    • From the Governors State University's homepage: Proceed to webpage and scroll to the bottom. Under the Academics column, select Blackboard.
    • From the myGSU portal: Proceed to the and login to the myGSU portal using your GSU username and password. Select the eLearning Blackboard button under Quick Links.
    • From the GSU Blackboard web address: Proceed to the Blackboard login page.
  • How to Login to Blackboard

    On the Blackboard login page, please login using your GSU username and password. This is the same username and password for the myGSU portal and the Office 365 email ( For more information about logging into Blackboard, please view the Blackboard Login to Web Version tutorial or the Blackboard Login to Mobile tutorial.

    Need a password reset? Please use the Reset Password Tool or contact the ITS Helpdesk at 708.534.4357.
  • Access the Blackboard Student Orientation Course

    All students enrolled for GSU courses are enrolled in the Blackboard Student Orientation course. You may access this course in your Blackboard Course List. This self-paced course is designed to help students become familiar with the Blackboard environment. Once you complete all six lessons, take the test to receive a certificate, which may or may not be required by your instructor.

    The six lessons included are:
    • Login and Prepare: Provides details on the different ways to login to Blackboard, software recommended for Blackboard, setting up your email, understanding which types of courses you are taking, using publisher content, keys to online learning success, and protecting your e-rep.
    • Course Content: Provides details on the left navigation menu, navigating the course, and the different navigation tools.
    • Communicate: Provides details on the different communication tools, appropriate online behavior, and how to accomplish online group work.
    • Assignments and Tests: Provides details on how to submit online assignments, how to submit online tests, and tips for assignment or test issues.
    • Stay on Track: Provides details on time management, accessing your grades, accessing the syllabus, using reminders and notifications, and staying on track using your mobile device.
    • Get Help: Provides details about different GSU support, such as Blackboard Support, the ITS Helpdesk, and the Registrar's Office. Some Instructors will also use publisher content, such as McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Cengage, which students can receive assistance from their support.

    Don't see the Blackboard Student Orientation course in your Blackboard Course List? Contact Blackboard Support.

  • Overview of Blackboard Course Navigation

    • After you login to a course, make sure to download the syllabus. This is usually stored in the Syllabus left navigation menu link. Instructors may make changes, so make sure you keep an eye out for any of those notifications.
    • Navigate through the left navigation menu to see what is available within the course. Blackboard is a fan of titles being links to new pages, so make sure you are hovering your mouse over text in case it's a hyperlink to a new page.
    • Make sure to complete your graded materials by using the left navigation menu (Assignments, Quizzes and Exams, Discussion Board, etc.) or within course modules. Each course is different, so the navigation to those graded materials may vary.
    • Use the My Grades left navigation menu link to check the grades for a course. Make sure you are consistently checking this area to keep up with your graded materials.
    • Check Course Messages in the courses left navigation menu, check announcements in courses left navigation menu, or check your GSU email located outside of Blackboard.
    • As previously stated, courses are available for the semester. Once the availability end date passes, students will no longer be able to access those courses. If you need copies of any of the materials posted in the course, be sure to download before the semester ends, otherwise you will have to contact the instructor of the course.