Keep Learning: Academic Success During COVID-19

Starting March 23, 2020, George Mason University will move to an online environment. Classes will be conducted through live sessions and participation in activities at Blackboard course site using the Blackboard Learning Management system as well as other online tools.

There are many unknowns & disruptions right now. Try to be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors during this time. Use this resource to help you plan and adjust your study strategies to learning online.

This website will be updated regularly; check back for new resources and study tips! Last Update: May 27, 2020 

Download a Copy of How To Be A Successful Online Learner (PDF) 

Whether you’re new at online learning or you’ve already taken online courses, here are important tips to help you be a successful online learner.  

Evaluate Your Technology Access

  • Access Blackboard. You’ll need your Mason username (NetID) and password to access Blackboard. Log in to and select the Courses tab to locate your course. Blackboard Mobile App can help you keep track of your online courses using your mobile device.
  • Check your Internet Connection. To complete and turn in your assignments, you will need consistent basic wireless or cellular connection at your home or study site. Please be aware of Keep American Connected FCC agreement from internet service providers. Access the list of internet providers to find out what assistance they may provide during the COVID-19 outbreak (the list is found at the middle of the EDUCAUSE Online Learning web page).
  • What if you need to join in a video-conference or take a supervised exam? For these, you will need broadband wireless (or strong cell connection) capable of streaming video, as well as a web-camera as part of your computer or tablet. Note on Accommodations:  If you cannot participate in some forms of virtual instruction, we encourage you to work collaboratively with your professor to find creative solutions that allow you to continue to participate in the course.
  • Check the technology requirements of your class. Ask your instructor if there are other programs or applications required by your department or program for your online course.
  • Consider back-up access. If your wireless goes down or you’re out of data, is there a library or other location you can go to safely to briefly access instructions and download large files or videos? Update March 31, 2020: Although library buildings now are closed to the public, Fairfax County Public Libraries WiFi  may be accessed from all Library branch parking lots, every day 6 AM – 10 PM.
  • Inform your instructors right away if you do not have reliable access to technology resources.

Stay Organized

  • Know where to find and keep track of lectures and activities for each of your classes.
    Where can you find it, and how do you access it in Blackboard?
    Will you need to attend/participate at a specific time (live, real-time sessions), or can you participate any time (in the Blackboard course site)?
  • Check to see if your assignments are changing.
    Are there any new due dates?
    Where do you submit your assignments?
    Are there online quizzes or exams?
  • Set a schedule. Setting a schedule for yourself can help provide structure and keep you motivated. Use a weekly or daily calendar to help you organize your time, including time for exercise and self-care. See Learning Services’ videos on Time Management and Overcoming Procrastination for tips on scheduling your time.
  • Allow adequate time. Online assignments may take longer than you expect, especially if you’re new to online learning. Adapt your study routines and habits to concentrate and stay on-track, even if uncertain. Stay in touch with your instructors, classmates, and others to build community and relationships in the virtual setting.

Communicate With Others

  • Stay in touch. Communicate regularly with your instructor and your classmates. You can communicate within your online course (e.g., through Blackboard discussion boards). You also may contact your instructor via email, virtual office hours, or phone.
  • Be proactive. In an online environment, your professor may have fewer “clues” about whether or not you understand course content. Reach out to your instructor if there is something that is not clear to you, or if you are having difficulty keeping up with the course. If you are having issues with the technology, let your instructor know and then contact Courses Support for help. Also, make sure to inform your instructor if you become ill during your course and may be delayed in completing assignments.
  • Check your email and Blackboard Announcements regularly & often. Checking your Mason email is important even under normal circumstances, but it’s even more important when your course moves online. Your instructor will be sending you updates, announcements, and reminders. Update notifications on Blackboard, so you’re always up-to-date. It is your responsibility as the learner to stay informed.
  • Use good “Netiquette” when you are participating and posting in your online course. In online discussions and peer reviews, critique ideas but treat people respectfully & professionally. Remember that tone and humor may be easily misinterpreted by others in online discussions.
  • Reach out to Mason Services. If you require accommodations or auxiliary aids, reach out to Mason’s Disability Services for assistance.

Be Patient with Yourself & Others

  • Be patient with yourself, your classmates, and your instructors. Virtual alternative instruction will be new to many at Mason, including your instructors. Please be patient, kind, and supportive during this time. We all feel stressed and nervous, so let’s work together.
  • Learn Strategies for Mindfulness and Stress Management. Mason’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers Virtual Mental Health Workshops, starting March 18, 2020.
  • Stay connected to others: your instructors, classmates, family, and friends. Reach out to others for assistance and help with your courses, and also your self-care and well-being.
  • Be kind to yourself. You’ll find your way. You’ll get back on track, and this way of learning will eventually become familiar.
  • Take a deep breath, do your best, get some rest, and let’s carry on!

Academic Success Resources

Blackboard Courses Support (Information Technology Services, GMU)
The Blackboard Courses Support resource highlights instructions to the most common Blackboard tools, such as submitting an assignment, taking a test, participating in a video lecture, or accessing other course materials Here are some specific help resources for these FAQs:

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the ITS Support Center at 703-993-8870, or via email at

Mason Online: Strategies for Online Learning Success
This is a longer list of tips for a successful online experience.

Learning Services
If you need assistance, please contact Learning Services at 703- 993-2380, or via email at Learning Services offers online academic coaching and academic workshops, as well as a list of Mason tutoring resources.

Counseling and Psychological Services
Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) remains available to provide services to Mason students. Please see CAPS’ website for a list of hours and resources. CAPS also offers virtual workshops focused on healthy coping skills. Contact CAPS at 703-993-2380.

Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Multicultural Education 
ODIME offers support to our Mason’s diverse student populations, including Asian/Pacific American, Black/African American/African Heritage, Hispanic/Latino(a), Middle Eastern and North African (MENA), and Native American/Indigenous heritages.

Disability Services
Disability Services is available to serve all students with disabilities, including those with cognitive, learning, psychological, sustained head injuries, sensory, mobility, and other physical impairments.

Updated Spring 2020 Academic Calendar

Keep Investigating: Undergraduate Research Guidelines

Academic Advising

Mason Libraries Services & Updates 

Libraries COVID-19 FAQs

Writing Center



Additional Learning Resources

Time Management

Avoid Procrastination 



Online Study Tips 

Mason Learning Services Spring 2020 Schedule 

Innovative Educators – Studying for Online Courses

The company Innovative Educators has made their Online Learning student success videos available to Mason students for free until May 15, 2020. Click the link above to find out more information on what is offered and how to sign up.