eLearning & Instructional Technology
Frequently Asked Questions from Students
Click on a question to reveal the answer.
Will I be successful in a distance learning class?
Determine if your learning style is compatible with a distance learning format:
- Are you self-motivated?
- Can you work independently?
- Can you schedule your study time efficiently?
- Can you meet deadlines?
Do I have to own a computer?
Distance learning classes require a computer with Internet access. It would be better if you have a computer at home.
How do I get started?
If you have taken classes at Virginia Western in the last three years, meet your advisor, and decide which classes you need to take for your curriculum. If you don't have an advisor, contact the Enrollment Office at 540-857-7231.
Your next steps:
- Review the Getting Started Checklist.
- Enroll in courses.
- Verify your VCCS student email account.
- Attend the on-campus orientation or finish the online distance learning orientation.
- Login to Blackboard to verify your access. Your class will become available by the first day of each semester
- Check information under Announcements.
- Check information under Course Orientation.
- Review the course syllabus usually available on the Syllabus menu item.
- Prepare to start working on the course (such as buying textbooks and any required software, complete the orientation quiz or assignment).
- Try to learn to use Blackboard using online learning tutorials.
Do I need to attend the on-campus distance learning orientation?
If you are a student who has never taken a distance learning course, you must either attend an orientation session on the VWCC campus or complete the online general distance learning orientation session.
Will I need to buy a textbook?
Check your course description; most classes require a textbook.
How do I get a student email?
You automatically receive an email account when you enroll as a Virginia Western student. Your email is sent and received via the Virginia Community College System student email system.
To access your VCCS email account:
- Go to: http://mail.email.vccs.edu
- Enter your MyVWCC username.
- Enter your password.
- Click "Sign in".
I can not see my course on Blackboard
The possible causes are:
- The course for which you registered has not been made available to students yet. You need to contact the instructor to see when the course will be available to students.
- You have been dropped or blocked from the course since you have not completed any learning activities within the first two weeks of the semester. You need to contact the instructor immediately.
Where is the best place to find course information?
The course syllabus is usually located on the Syllabus button of your course's main menu in Blackboard. You may also find useful information about the course structure and requirements under the Course Orientation button.
I cannot open the files my instructor posted on Blackboard.
Often double clicking on the link of the file causes problems when you try to open or view the file. Try to right click on the link and then save the document to your computer. To open the file, go to where you saved the documents on your computer and double click the saved document.
If I only have MS Office 2000 or 2003, how can I open the Word documents and PowerPoint files created in newer versions of Office?
MS office provides a compatibility pack for users who only have MS Office 2000/2003 installed on their computers and try to open documents created using MS Office 2007. Click here to download the Microsoft Compatibility Pack.
How do I use the discussion board?
To access the instructions about how to use discussion board for students, please go to this page.
I was taking a test in Blackboard and it terminated unexpectedly.
You need to contact your instructor immediately.
To prevent this, you should not browse to other websites during the process of taking a test. You need to use Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explore to navigate through Blackboard. Here is the free download for Mozilla Firefox.
Where do I take exams?
Review your course syllabus on Blackboard. Many exams are given in the Testing Center located in the Brown Library.
Can I take my exams outside the VWCC campus?
You are able to take exams outside the VWCC campus. For more information, please visit the Proctored Test Information page.
How do I find my grades in Blackboard?
In your Blackboard Course menu, locate your grade under the My Grades button. Clicking on the actual grade will allow you to see feedback from the instructor. Also look for attached files in the instructor feedback section. Attached files will be your original assignment with instructor's comments.
There is an exclamation point (!) in the spot where an assignment grade should be. What does this mean?
The exclamation point means that you have submitted the assignment but the instructor has not evaluated and entered a grade for the work.
If you receive an error message on the Blackboard login screen ("The Username and Password you specified were incorrect or you do not have access to this resource."):
- Are you using the correct username? (Look up your username at https://portal1.my.vccs.edu/web/vw/lookup-username)
- Are you using the correct password?
- Maiden Name Issue: Have you ever gone by another last name? If so, try your previous last name in one of the look ups and see if that allows you access to your Blackboard account.
Deleting Internet Files and installing Java
If you were working on your course content within Blackboard, such as clicking on Reply button to post a response within discussion board and suddenly the discussion board page disappeared and you were pushed back to the Blackboard login page or the Internet page just shut down, this symptom indicates that you need to delete the Internet files from your browser. The instructions to delete Internet files are available on this link: Click here (PDF).
I can't get Blackboard to display.
- Are you using the correct browser? (Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Mozilla Firefox 28 or higher, or Safari 7 or higher. Java version 7 is the recommended version for features that depend on it.)
- Are you using AOL or MSN? (If so, Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox should be opened in a separate window.)
- Are you using your home computer or a computer at work? (If using an employer's computer, the company's computer security system may prevent access to the Blackboard software. Contact your computer department to determine if your company has a firewall.)
- Have you emptied your cache lately? Follow these directions to empty the cache (PDF).
I can't see the text box display when I try to reply to a discussion board or complete an assignment.
- Log into Blackboard.
- Click on Learn.
- Under Tools (far top right of screen) click Personal Information.
- Click on Set Text Box Editor Options.
- Select Unavailable.
- Click on Submit.
I have a question about my computer; can someone help?
If you have read through all these questions and are still unable to access your course, please send an email to with your complete name, course number and section, and a detailed description of the problem.
Location: Link Learning Commons