Online College: What Works For Me

Introduction

    When I started taking college again in 2016 at Liberty University, I had a lot of things to learn about online college.  I had never taken online college before, so this experience was new.  With my lovely wife's help, I was able to find many things that work for me.
    Many of these techniques will work on Windows, Linux, Android, and Mac, in various ways.

Calendars

    Most of your classes should have calendar systems.  I cannot speak for other systems, but Blackboard has them.  You can directly add these to Thunderbird from "network" using Blackboard's calendar export.  However, I prefer to download them to my hard drive and add them as a local calendar so that as I complete assignments, I delete them from the calendar.  Here's how: first, go to your class in Blackboard in your class menu and click calendar:


This should take you to the calendar page.  On this page, click the "Get External Calendar Link".  This will show you a link to the calendar:


This shows you a link to your calendar file.  If you prefer to add the calendar as a network in Thunderbird, from here, cut and paste.  However, I copy this and use it to download the file.


I go to an Xfce Terminal and, using the wget program, paste into the command and execute the command, which downloads the learn.ics file:


Then I go into Thunderbird and open Calendar:




Then I simply select the file and it automatically adds it.  I usually have to rename the calendar it creates so that I know what calendar it is.

Then I also add the calendar to my Google Calendar for my phone's use.  Go to the Google Calendar link and click the settings icon:



From here, click on Calendars:



I think the first thing you should do is create this as a separate blank calendar (because you're going to import the events).  That way if your phone's calendar gets clogged, you can de-select and re-select it on your phone, as you need:


Then once you have created this new blank calendar, Google might take you back to the main calendar screen.  Go back to your calendar settings again, and then click Import Calendar.  You should then get this screen.  You will need to have saved the calendar.  So either when you imported it (if you saved the file), use that file.  If not, export the network calendar in Thunderbird to a file (save it), then use that to import to Google.  Keep in mind that, due to an unknown limitation in Blackboard, the calendar link will include everything on your academic calendar, even classes and events from the past.  This is why having the calendar as a file is best: you can go delete all past events out of the calendar.



E-Books

    As far as online books, many colleges are moving in this direction.  Whether everyone likes e-books or not, I can say with confidence that they are valuable.  Typically, there are three sources for them that I have encountered thus far.  This is a review of the applications used.  Keep in mind that all e-book applications that I have encountered thus far allow you to save (download) the book to your device so that you don't need to depend on having cell signal and/or data everywhere you go.

Reading Ahead

    I think one of the most important tings I ever did, which helped me balance my load across the year, is to read ahead.  Here's an example:
    I registered for CCOU 201 a month ahead of class.  Because I like Google Play more, I went on MBS Direct to figure out what textbooks I had for this class.  As it turned out, only one.
    So I bought the book a month out and read it before class started.  Then as soon as class started, as I could, I'd take all the exams (might be called quizzes or tests) by the end of the second week.  That way I could then focus on papers and forums.
    I was able to take full time college (12 credit hours) while working full time in the military using this method.
    Keep in mind, it is very important to check MBS Direct a couple months in advance for what textbooks will be used.  The Liberty University class catalog has some example syllabuses that have a warning not to use them as the basis for ordering books, because every instructor is different.