By Maha Ansari

If you’ve taken a class at Carleton, odds are you’ve used cuLearn – the university’s web-based learning space. And if you haven’t encountered it yet, you probably will at some point during your time at Carleton.

Kim Loenhart works at the Educational Development Centre, where she supports instructors in their use of cuLearn and other educational technology. She’s helped us create today’s top 10 suggestions on how students can get the most out of cuLearn.

1) Regularly engage with course material on cuLearn.

Frequenting cuLearn is the online equivalent of regularly attending lectures, but Loenhart says the path to academic excellence goes beyond logging in.

“A big factor in success in online and distance learning is independence, engagement and motivation,” she says.

 2) Touch base with other students.

Use cuLearn’s discussion forums as online learning communities, where you can share ideas and review course content with your classmates.

 3) Make an effort to read others’ discussion board posts.

 While it might feel like your job is done once you publish that obligatory discussion post, it’s important to read and absorb what your classmates have written too.

 4) Be willing to explore foreign technology.

 Many professors use cuLearn’s BigBlueButton feature to conduct virtual office hours. While you might not be familiar with this or some of the other tools your professors use, Loenhart says the road to success lies in a willingness to engage with all of the learning tools available.

5) Customize your dashboard to suit your learning needs.

 On the top right corner of cuLearn’s homepage is a “customize this page” button. Take advantage and format the dashboard to whatever suits your preferences. Prioritize the content you feel is most important.

 6) Pay attention to course deadlines and updates.

 Check course calendars on cuLearn to stay up-to-date on deadlines. “Latest Announcements” is another area to look for updates from your professors.

7) Use the calendar feature to establish a personal learning plan.

 On the main dashboard in cuLearn, you can find a customizable calendar. Within the “Upcoming Events” block, click “New Event…” to add deadlines, recurring reminders and more to help you stay on top of your tasks.

 8) Take advantage of the “Library Reserves” feature.

Some courses include a “Library Reserves” block, which allows you to access journal articles and other materials available through the MacOdrum Library.

 9) Work with all of the features available.

“It’s important for students to engage with all of the materials – not just what they know their instructor is watching them do,” says Loenhart.

From the customizable calendar to the Library Reserves page, cuLearn offers plenty of learning tools to explore.

 10) Visit the cuLearn support site.

 For more information on cuLearn features, including tutorials and helpful guides, visit the cuLearn support website.

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