Expectations of Siena Heights University students enrolled in Online Courses

Overview of an Online Course at SHU

Siena online courses engage students in a comprehensive learning experience with their fellow peers. An online course will often include learning assessments such as literature reviews, written assignments, and participation in weekly discussion “threads.” Depending on the online course, collaborative group projects and/ or exams may also be included to meet learning outcomes. Your instructors will guide you through the course activities, posting announcements, delivering lecture materials, participating in weekly discussions, responding to questions, and grading assignments and exams. Similar to a traditional classroom experience, participation in weekly discussions offers an opportunity to discuss topics with other classmates, who reside within the U.S. and internationally.


• Review your student schedule in My Siena. Go to “Student Schedule,” (requires My Siena login) located under My Tools, to view your schedule for the current term. Select a term from the dropdown menu to view your schedule for a different term. Follow the next step to order your textbooks/learning materials.

• Order your textbooks. Within the student schedule area above, select the link for “course materials ordering and information” to order your books/materials in time to have prior to the first day of your online course. You will also need to review the course syllabus ahead of time to ensure all required materials have been purchased, as some materials may not be listed on the bookstore website (go to “CPS Course Syllabi” in My Siena, and download your course syllabus for the appropriate term). Your instructors will expect that you will have the required books/materials at the start of the course.

• If this is your first online course at Siena, welcome! In preparation for a successful journey, be sure to login to Canvas (under My LMS Courses section in My Siena) to complete the Canvas Student Orientation! The orientation will familiarize you with Siena online courses presented in Canvas. It is important to complete the orientation PRIOR TO accessing your first online course. You will be expected to navigate your online course, use the discussion board, retrieve and submit assignments, check your grades, and complete other actions in Canvas. It is your responsibility as a student to become familiar with the Canvas interface prior to the start of your online course!

• Login to Canvas one week before your online course begins. Tour the course in its entirety in preparation for the course start. Identify the “pre-class assignment,” an assignment that is often due the first day of the course, and may require use of your textbook or learning materials to complete the assignment. Check the official start date of your online course in preparation to login on the first day; for example, many online courses start on a Monday.

• Prepare ahead to ensure success! Time management and self-motivation are necessary tools in the successful completion of online coursework. Most online courses are compressed into an accelerated delivery format (e.g., 7-week format) and require a significant time commitment. Review the course syllabus for important course policies and expectations to guide your access in completing assignments and their related deadlines. Use the course calendar, if applicable, or your own weekly calendar to keep track of discussion and other course assignments.

• Check your computer’s readiness. It is important to ensure your hardware and software applications are working properly prior to the start of your online course. While Canvas is mobile and tablet friendly, the use of a laptop or desktop computer is strongly recommended to complete course assignments. If you need technical assistance, contact our IT Assistance Center at 517.264.7655 or eLearning_support@sienaheights.edu. For technical assistance with Canvas, 24/7 support is provided by contacting 877-703-3906.

• Basic Computer Specifications: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-2059

• Browser Compatibility: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-1284


• Access your online course on a daily basis. Login to your online course on the first day and on a daily basis throughout the course. Establish a routine for checking course communications, participating in the discussion forums, and submitting assignments. Identify time increments to view and regularly engage in your online course.

• Check course announcements frequently. This will ensure that you are aware of any new or updated information for the course.
• Prepare for each upcoming unit. Review the information and assignments in preparation for the upcoming week/module/unit that will include active participation in discussion forums, as well as other written assignments, presentations, and/or exams/quizzes, as noted. Review assignment rubrics or expectations for content and format requirements of each assignment, and identify corresponding due dates.

• Understand the importance of academic honesty: http://stilllearning.sienaheights.edu/uploads/1/8/6/3/18634728/responsible_authorship.pdf

• Stay actively engaged in the online discussion forums. Online courses often include weekly discussion forums that require steady and thorough participation from you. Review the discussion forum rubric/participation expectations in the course (or the course syllabus) to successfully guide you as an active class member. As a general rule of thumb, plan to properly participate, at minimum, several times on several days per week/unit.

• Practice proper netiquette: Netiquette

• Communicate with your instructors. In online courses, you can raise questions about course content and assignments in a specified chat forum, such as an office forum. The office forum allows all students to view postings, those of whom may have similar questions OR may be able to respond with an answer to a question, providing peer-to-peer support. In addition, you can contact your instructor directly by checking the course syllabus for the instructor’s preferred method of communication. Don’t wait to post questions, whether in the office forum or via direct communication with your instructor, to help provide explanation and support sooner.

• Plan to take online courses as they are presented. Accelerated online courses, such as 7-week courses, offer potentially faster degree completion. With accelerated delivery, though, online courses commonly stay active on various holidays or breaks throughout the year and often do not follow the same academic calendar schedule as face-to-face courses (e.g., main campus courses). Review assignment due dates and other important dates shared in your online courses. Accommodations for extenuating circumstances, such as a medical emergency, are at the discretion of the instructor. Personal or extra-curricular activities/events are not considered extenuating circumstances, and students should consider their availability during these activities and its impact on their coursework.

Participation in the Virtual Classroom Discussion

Participation in online weekly discussion does not require you to participate at specific times during each week’s unit (otherwise known as “synchronous”), unless otherwise noted by your instructor. It does require you to actively participate on several different days minimally throughout the week’s unit. A standard recommendation is to login at least once a day to check announcements, review and respond to discussion threads, and examine online materials. The actual length of time devoted toward each weekly unit varies depending on the course activities. Many online courses are delivered in an accelerated format (e.g., 7-weeks) with considerable writing expectations that will require you to stay on task to ensure your success in the course.