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Online Learning

Realize your Potential

Contact Us

College of Southern Maryland
8730 Mitchell Road
PO Box 910
La Plata, MD 20646-0910

Blackboard Login Instructions

The College of Southern Maryland is committed to implementing the Quality Matters (QM) standards for the design of online and hybrid courses. CSM is systematically developing and evaluating courses based on rigorous, research-based standards. The QM standards ensure that online courses promote learner engagement and provide students with all the tools and information they need to be successful learners.

Online Learning Student Guide

Download Guide as PDF 

Welcome to Online Learning
What are Online Learning Courses?
Are Online Learning Courses for Me
College Store/Textbook Information
Instructor Conferences
Submission of Class Assignments
Library Services
Student Success Center
Student Information
Credit and Transfer Policies
Registration, Fees, and Status Changes
Academic Calendar
Logging into Online Courses
Technical Requirements for Online Courses
Orientations and Tutorials
Frequently Used Addresses and Telephone Numbers
Tips for Success
Academic Honesty


Welcome to Online Learning

Welcome to online learning at the College of Southern Maryland.  The flexibility and variety of online courses broaden the reach of the college community by offering students the opportunity to earn credits without attending classes on campus. Many students take a combination of online courses and on-campus courses.  This guide is designed to answer general questions you may have about online courses.  If you have questions which this guide does not address, please feel free to call the Distance Learning Coordinator at 301-934-7615.  We are pleased that you are considering taking advantage of these unique educational formats and hope that you find participation in online courses to be an interesting, convenient, and satisfying way to learn.

What are Online Courses?

Online courses are designed to bring campus-based classes to students' computers.  The instructor provides information posted on a course Web site that guides the student through course content, prompts discussions, and helps students keep pace with assignments.  Due dates for assignments, a logical learning pattern, and start/end dates that correspond with a semester create a classroom that is available at a convenient time and place. Students may be required to take proctored exams or on-campus assessments at a testing center.

Web-hybrid (Blended) courses blend on-campus instruction with web-based or other flexible learning options. Students meet on campus according to the published schedule of classes with approximately half of the course instruction and/or activities occurring online or in another of our flexible formats. Web-hybrid courses create flexible learning options while allowing students to regularly meet face-to-face with instructors and other students.

Web-enhanced courses are instructional methods, such as lectures and cooperative education experiences that use certain Blackboard tools, such as email and discussions.

Are Online Courses For Me?

View the self-survey to determine if online learning is for you.  You can explore the student demo course to experience what it's like to be in a online course.  If you would like to contact an advisor you may do so online.

College Store/Textbook Information

Most textbooks for online courses are available at the CSM College Store at the La Plata Campus with some exceptions noted at on the textbook page.  Textbooks for courses at the Waldorf Center are available at the CSM College Store at the La Plata Campus.  For your convenience, textbooks may be transferred to another college store by calling the CSM College Store
nearest you.  You may also purchase textbooks online at


A variety of assessment techniques will be used by your instructors to determine your comprehension of the course content and to assess your progress.  Students in most online courses will be required to take exams.  Students should review their syllabus to determine if the exams must be completed at the Testing Center on one of the CSM campuses.  For some online courses, exams may be completed online from home.  If students are required to take their exams at a testing center, they must:  Take the exams on the assigned dates at the Testing Center at any CSM campus. Call the Testing Center of your choice to verify that it can provide the service at the time you require. Be sure you take a picture ID and two #2 pencils to the examination site. 

For additional testing information, please visit the following site:

For the Testing Center’s hours of operation, please visit the following site:

Instructor Conferences

Instructors will provide their telephone numbers, email address, and office hours in their course syllabi.  Questions concerning course content, exams, or grades should be directed to your instructor.  Administrative questions or questions about online course procedures should be directed to the Distance Learning Coordinator at 301-934-7615. Regular office hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.  Please leave a message when contacting the Distance Learning Coordinator after hours.  Your call will be returned on the next business day.

Submission of Class Assignments

Your instructors will provide instructions on how and where to submit course assignments.  Please review your course syllabus to determine the procedures for submitting written work.  You should retain copies of all course assignments for your own records.

Library Services

The CSM Library’s Home Page ( includes links to the Card Catalog as well as links to electronic databases.  Some of the databases are available not only on-campus but also off-campus to currently registered students.  The popular journal database ProQuest is one of the databases accessible from off-campus.  A valid student ID is needed to access these databases and to check out books.  Students can pick up their ID cards at the library’s circulation desk on the La Plata Campus Library or they may request to have it sent to another campus library.  For information on library hours and services, please visit the library web site or contact the library at 301-934-7626.

Student Success Center

The Student Success Center (SSC) provides a comprehensive system of student support services.  Peer tutoring, skills improvement, testing, and disabled student services are some available services.  In cooperation with, CSM also offers Online Tutoring Services in the areas of Math, Writing, ESL, Accounting, Economics, and Chemistry.  Academic support in these areas is offered to all CSM students free of charge.

Student Information

Because most of your communication will be by email or by phone, it is extremely important that you advise the Admissions Office and your instructor of any change in your mailing address, home/work telephone numbers, and email address.  Submitting a change of address to your instructor does not change your address on the CSM student database. You must complete a change of address form at the
Admissions Office  (301-934-7765) to be sure you will continue to receive information from the college.

Credit and Transfer Policies

Online courses are recorded on your official College of Southern Maryland transcript.  No distinction is made between online courses and on-campus courses. Transferability is always at the discretion of the receiving institution. You should meet with an academic advisor for assistance in determining transferability of credits to the institution of your choice.

Registration, Fees, and Status Changes

The registration process is the same for online courses as for on-campus courses.  Because of licensing costs, there is an additional fee for online courses. If you wish to change your status from audit to credit or vice versa or if you find that you must withdraw from a course, please contact the Registrar’s Office at 301-934-7588 for information about the necessary forms and procedures. Enrollment in online courses could affect your VA benefits. Contact the Financial Assistance Department before registering for these courses.

Academic Calendar

Online courses follow the CSM semester calendar found in the college’s schedule of classes. Each online course has a start and end date.  The length of most online courses is the full semester, 16 weeks.  However, some are of shorter duration.  Please take note of important dates such as the first and last days of classes, mid-term week, holidays, and deadlines for adding/dropping classes, and changing audit/credit status.  For important dates, see the academic calendar.

Logging into Online Courses (and other courses that use Blackboard)

Students will have access to their courses at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of class as published in the Schedule of Classes.  To access your course, you will need your User Name, Password, and log in URL.

Technical Requirements for Online Courses

The Blackboard Browser Tune-Up may also be used to ensure that you are using a supported browser. It includes step-by-step instructions to make sure your browser settings are optimized for the best possible Blackboard experience.

Orientations and Tutorials

Traditional courses are exactly alike.  Instructors have different teaching styles, assign different types of activities, and assess students in a variety of ways.  Similarly, online courses are exactly the same.  Your instructor selects web tools and features to teach and facilitate your course based on the course content preferred teaching methods.  However, many of the tools and most course navigation are similar.  The Online Orientation consists of a series of tutorials that explain and demonstrate the basic skills necessary to be successful in online or web-hybrid courses. The tutorials will provide the step-by-step instructions needed to use many of the features and tools you'll find in these courses. In addition, a demonstration course has been created for you to experience what it's like to be in a online course. If you have problemsviewing these tutorials contact the Help Desk at 301-934-2251, extension 4357.

Frequently Used Addresses and Phone Numbers

  • Admissions Office, ext. 7765
  • College Store, ext. 7570
  • Advisement and Career Services, ext. 7574
  • Financial Assistance, ext. 7531
  • Library, ext. 7626
  • Distance Learning Office, ext. 7615
  • Testing Center, ext. 7657
  • Prince Frederick Campus
    115 Williams Road
    Prince Frederick, MD 20678-3709
  • Leonardtown Campus
    22950 Hollywood Road
    Leonardtown, MD 20650-4700
  • Waldorf Center
    3261 Old Washington Road, Suite 1020
    Waldorf, MD 20602-3223
    301- 632-2900

Tips for Success

Online courses are designed to be convenient and flexible; they are as intellectually challenging
and academically rigorous as traditional on-campus courses.  Online courses allow you to achieve your academic goals by participating in a course virtually “any where, any time, and any place.”

Success in an online environment requires a self-directed, well-organized person who is comfortable with technology:

  • Read the syllabus and other course materials carefully to understand requirements, assignment due dates, how to submit assignments, and contact information for your instructor and classmates.
  • Develop good study habits early.  Dedicate a place for studying.  Set aside a significant amount of time each week for class work.  In a traditional class, you’d be expected to spend about 10 hours each week on the course (3 hours in class plus additional time to study and complete course assignments).  In an online course, plan to spend, at least, the same amount of time participating in class activities.
  • Establish your own time management system and study time to allow you to complete the assignment due dates and course activities according to the schedule provided by your instructor.  Have a daily/weekly planner.
  • Keep current with the assigned readings.  Take note of key concepts, definitions, or explanations that are helpful to you.
  • Communicate with your instructor regularly and with classmates if possible.
  • Check your email at least once a day.
  • Reach out when you need someone to talk to, feel frustrated, or need help understanding course concepts.
  • Demonstrate good communications skills.  Nearly all communication is written so it is critical you are comfortable expressing yourself in writing.
  • Observe netiquette rules—be polite and respectful in your communications.
  • Function with the discipline and self motivation needed to complete assignments on time.
  • Expect and plan for glitches and delays by starting assignments early.

We’re glad you’ve chosen to take an online course from the College of Southern Maryland.

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to perform their own academic work. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are considered extremely serious offenses. Students are personally responsible for understanding the various forms of academic dishonesty as they are explained in the Student Code of Conduct in the Student Handbook. Ignorance of any requirement for academic honesty will not constitute an excuse from disciplinary proceedings.