Intro - Student Online Orientation


Hi, my name is Emma and I’m a student at HPU. I'm sure you've heard that online classes are not for everyone. I’ve taken 8 online classes in the past and I can attest to that. Being an online learner takes a lot of time and dedication, as well as an ability to work independently and keep up with a schedule. Choosing to take online classes is not a decision to be taken lightly.

Bronson: Hey, I heard that online classes are really easy and convenient, because you don’t have to show up for classes. I can do all my homework at leisure in my pajamas!

Emma: Well, you do have more flexibility with online classes, since you can log in anytime 24/7 to fulfill your responsibilities, up until the deadline. However, I wouldn’t say that online classes are easier. There are actually a lot more written assignments for online classes and you do have to meet deadlines, just like face-to-face classes.

Bronson: Well, at least the exams are easier, because they are open book exams, right?

Emma: Not really. While you are right that most online tests and exams are open book because of the nature of the course medium, it may not necessarily be easier. Keep in mind that these exams are usually timed, so you do still have to know the materials well since you won’t have unlimited amounts of time to search for the answers. Many of the online tests that I’ve taken asked for application of concepts, so the answers can’t be copied directly from the textbook.

Bronson: Well, what do you think are the hardest adjustments to make when you take an online class for the first time?

Emma: For me, I think the hardest thing to do is to be able to sit yourself down to do the readings, listen to the lectures, and work on the assignments without the accountability of face-to-face interactions with a teacher and classmates. You have to be honest with yourself about whether you are motivated and disciplined enough to do everything independently.

Bronson: I see… what about technology? How tech savvy do you need to be?

Emma: Well, you do need to have basic computer literacy and be comfortable with Blackboard and the Internet for your online classes. For example, you should know how to use email, upload and download attachments, use search engines to look up information, and be familiar with the online resources available to you as a student at HPU.

Bronson: What is Blackboard?

Emma: Blackboard is the learning management system, also known as the LMS, which is a platform used at HPU to offer online classes. All your assignments, communication, course materials and grades will be accessed through Blackboard. So, you must be comfortable with navigating through Blackboard’s various tabs, check emails and messages, participate in online discussion posts, and be able to upload and download documents to and from Blackboard.

Bronson: Wow, is there somewhere I can learn about Blackboard?

Emma: Yes, actually, there is an online module here that will give you an orientation to Blackboard and what you need to know to get you started. And remember, if you get stuck with a technical issue, you should always tell your instructor and reach out to HPU’s helpdesk for help. Their phone number is (808) 566-2411 or you can also email them at:

Bronson: Thank you! That is good to know! Lastly, do you have any advice you would like to give to those of us who are taking online classes for the first time?

Emma: Yes. First of all, it is important to be organized because you will have to keep track of deadlines, assignments, and evaluations. A great way to do this is to post all of these responsibilities directly from the course syllabus and onto a calendar or To-Do list. Secondly, it is important to be self-disciplined because online, there is not much peer pressure or teacher oversight for you to turn in your assignments and do your reading. You have to be self-motivated to complete all assignments thoroughly and in a timely manner. Last but not least, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need clarifications or help from your professor. Don’t wait until last minute to seek out help. I hope these tips are helpful to you. The things I mentioned here are just a few things to know about online classes, and there is a lot more information available online. I wish you luck in any online classes that you decide to take!
Hawai'i Pacific University
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Honolulu, Hawai'i 96813 U.S.A.
Telephone: (808) 544-0200
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"Hawai'i Pacific University is a not-for-profit international learning community set in the rich cultural context of Hawai'i. Students from around the world join us for an American education built on a liberal arts foundation. Our innovative undergraduate and graduate programs anticipate the changing needs of the community and prepare our graduates to live, work, and learn as active members of a global society."

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