Introduction to Distance Learning

Before enrolling in an online or hybrid class, students who are new to distance learning at GRCC are required to complete an Introduction to Distance Learning (IDL) tutorial. This includes new or guest students.

  1. Where do I find this tutorial? You will see a link to the “Introduction to Distance Learning" tutorial when you first log into Blackboard ( It will appear under “My Course List.” Simply, click on the link to enter the course.
  2. What if I can’t log into Blackboard or my student email? If you need to set/reset your password, go to If you require additional assistance, please contact IT Customer Support at (616) 234-4357.
  3. What is required to complete the IDL? You will need to complete all four (4) modules and pass the final assessment with at least a 70%.
  4. What happens if I don’t receive a 70% score? You can review the modules and take the final assessment until you receive a 70% score. If you don’t complete the tutorial and receive a 70%, you will not be able to enroll in future online or hybrid classes.
  5. What if I don’t plan on taking distance learning classes right now? You will still need to complete the IDL (and receive a 70% on the final assessment) to take an online or hybrid class in the future. You will not be able to register for a distance learning class without it. Don't wait until registration begins!
  6. Why is this mandatory for students who are new to distance learning at GRCC? Our research shows that the success rate has been about 10% lower for distance learners. The IDL modules focus on the four areas where students seem to struggle - using tools in Blackboard, communications, how online learning works at GRCC, and success strategies (e.g. time management). Because Blackboard will be your online classroom, it is important to understand how to login, and to learn how to use the tools before your class begins.

Getting Ready for Online Learning

Seven key readiness tips for taking an online course at GRCC include the following:

  1. Get Oriented
    If you are new to distance learning at GRCC, be sure to complete the Introduction to Distance Learning (IDL) tutorial, which can be found by logging in to Blackboard, and selecting the option under “My Course List." The ATC Computer Lab also offers a face-to-face "Basics of Blackboard" orientation that is held on campus. In addition, if you are new to online learning, be sure to go through this Online Readiness website to review student expectations and to ensure you are ready for online learning.
  2. Know Your PC
    Be an experienced computer user! Know how to: use your computer, download and upload files, navigate and open multiple tabs in your browser, and troubleshoot general issues. It's also important to have reliable and high speed Internet access.
  3. Read
    Be sure to read all course information, syllabi, instructions, contact information, and schedule information. Follow the instructions in the syllabus to stay current and to ensure assignments and participation requirements are submitted before the due date.
  4. Log In Daily
    Start out strong and be sure to login on the semester start date. It's helpful to have a regular study routine that includes logging into Blackboard daily. This will prevent you from getting behind quickly as most online courses require your regular participation in discussion boards. You should also check your GRCC campus email daily. Email is used by online professors to communicate important deadlines and information.
  5. Be Self-Disciplined and Engaged
    Be sure to manage and prioritize your time well, be active, study hard, participate in online discussions, stay organized, submit assignments on time, don't procrastinate, keep a calendar or a checklist to be sure you are on task, etc. Self-motivation is also important so that you can remember to login frequently to participate and to engage in learning. The key is to have a dedicated time set aside for your course work and to minimize obstacles that hinder you from studying and participating.
  6. Believe and Ask for Help
    Believe you can do it! Have confidence in yourself, your academic ability, and expect to be successful! Be aware of where you need to improve and don't get behind. Your faculty member is the first person to contact if you have any questions related to the content of your course. If you are confused or cannot find something in your online course, contact your instructor. If you are unable to login, have technical issues submitting an assignment or quiz, contact the IT Customer Support help desk immediately. Additionally, several tutorial labs offer online tutoring that enables you to chat with live on Blackboard IM with a tutor. 
  7. Set Realistic Expectations
    Online and hybrid courses will require at least the same amount of time as the on-campus equivalent. If you spend three hours in lecture per week and six hours studying per week for a three-credit course on-campus, then you will likely spend three hours online and an additional six hours studying per week for a three credit online course. It is also important to remember that you do not get instantaneous feedback in online courses like you do in a face-to-face course. Your faculty member should communicate with you their turn around time for emails and grading assignments. 

Tips from Online Students

  1. Be sure to log in at least once a day to Blackboard and also to check your student email.
  2. Don't get behind on turning in assignments and doing homework.
  3. Keep track of due dates to better manage your time and priorities with what work needs to be done first.