Student Support for Online Learning

Support for online students

  • MySVCC Access

    In order to access online courses, you will need to know your MySVCC username and password and have successfully set up MFA. New students, or those who need a password reset, should contact the helpdesk by phone at 434-949-1010.

    Beginning February 2020, new students will not have access to their student Gmail account in the MySVCC portal until they have made a financial commitment to the college, though you will have immediate access to Canvas and the Student Information System (SIS).

    For information on how to look up your own username and reset your own password, please view the MySVCC Overview.

  • Canvas

    Most classes will have some component that uses Canvas, even if it is only where you will find the syllabus and message your instructor. Students should be familiar with the basics of how to set up their account in Canvas, and how to access and submit work for their course.

    How to Access Your Canvas Courses and Submit Basic Assignments

    In the Canvas Help menu, you will also find a link to the Canvas Student Guides that will show you how to complete any task as a student in Canvas. In that same help menu, you will find the phone number for after-hours Canvas student help - 877-875-8425 - and the Canvas Student Chat.

    Please plan to use the Canvas help phone/chat if you experience problems with the course technology after hours, on weekends, or holidays. While there is usually someone looking at help tickets over the weekend, instructors do not always check their email if you message them, and there will be weekends and holidays where the Canvas Admin and IT staff are not available.

  • Zoom

    While fully online (asynchronous) courses do not usually require the use of Zoom for anything other than virtual office hours, Zoom to Home, hybrid and Video broadcast courses will require you to use Zoom video conferencing on a regular basis.

    Be sure that you have the Zoom app on your phone (it’s a free download for iOS or Android), and consider downloading the Zoom desktop client onto your computer, if possible. You may also access your Zoom account by logging into the MySVCC portal and clicking on the Zoom tile.

  • Online Tutoring

    All Southside Students are entitled to use tutoring resources for the college (this includes Dual Enrollment students) at no additional cost.

    For those students who take classes on one of our two main campuses, live tutoring may be available in the Learning Commons, depending on your subject, day/time availability, and current social distancing restrictions that may prohibit such meetings. You can make an appointment by contacting the Learning Commons at the numbers/emails below. Walk-ins are also welcome, though not every subject may be available for tutoring on demand.

    Christanna Campus (Alberta): 434-949-1065 or

    Daniel Campus (Keysville): 434-736-2042 or

    For those students who need more flexible access to tutoring assistance, Southside has 24/7/365 access to the Brainfuse Online Tutoring service. Tutors in every subject are available most of the day/night, with a few subjects not offered in the early morning hours except by appointment. You can work live with a tutor at no charge, or submit a writing assignment to the Writing Lab for feedback. Brainfuse can be accessed through any Canvas course, or through the MySVCC portal.


    Brainfuse Quick Start Guide

  • Online Attendance

    Weekly ongoing participation in an online course is just as important as attendance is in a seated course. You must be reading, interacting, and completing work in your online course from the start of the semester to be successful. All of our online courses have some type of assignment or submission requirement that must be completed within the first week of the course to demonstrate "attendance". Any students who do not complete that activity and show that they are actively engaged and participating in the course will be dropped from the course by the instructor. This is a policy within the Virginia Community College System. (See the policy below. Note that the term “census date” means the last day to withdraw with a refund for that term. You may consult the college calendar for those dates.)

    VCCS Policy 5.6.0 Grading System for Credit Classes (SB)

    In order to receive any letter grade, a student must have attended a minimum of one class meeting or the equivalent in the case of a distance learning course. In a distance learning course, initial student attendance is determined by course participation as measured by accessing and using course materials, completion of a class assignment, participation in a course discussion, or other evidence of participation. Students who enroll in a course but do not attend a minimum of one class meeting or the distance learning equivalent by the census date or earlier date as defined and published by the institution must be administratively deleted from the course by the college. Existing college policies regarding tuition refund shall remain in effect.

    NOTE: The VCCS considers a student withdrawn from an online course when they have failed to attend 20% or more of the scheduled class meetings. For most distance courses, this means failure to submit graded work 20% or more of the weeks in the course term. (See the policy below.)

    A withdrawal that is initiated by the college when a student has stopped attending classes, or for the purpose of distance education/online courses, stopped participating in-class assignments or class/online activities for twenty percent (20%) of the course between the last date to drop with a refund and the last date to withdraw from the course.

  • FAQs

    Are fully online classes “work at your own pace”?

    No, all SVCC courses have clear and definite deadlines to complete work and turn it in. While your instructor may give you permission to work ahead, you are not allowed to “choose” when to turn in work for any course.

    I’ve heard online classes are easier than regular seated courses. Is this true?

    NO! In fact, online courses require a level of personal responsibility and time management that may not be necessary for traditional classes, because there is no instructor meeting with you multiple days per week to remind you to do your work, or seeing how much you have done. Expect to work just as hard in your online courses as you will in a traditional class, and be prepared to initiate conversations with your instructor when you need help.

    Does attendance count in an online course?

    Yes. The VCCS (Virginia Community College System) requires instructors to keep track of student participation as their measurement of attendance. So instead of being counted present daily, you are counted present weekly based on whether or not you turned in the work due. As the state requires you to be present for at least 80% of class meetings in order to receive a passing grade, you can only miss 3 weeks of a traditional semester-long class, 2 weeks of a 12 or 10-week class, and one meeting of an 8-week class.

    How do I get my textbooks and materials for online courses?

    Just as with seated courses, you may log into the Follett Discover link in the MySVCC portal and see what materials are required for each course. If these materials are being purchased with financial aid, we recommend that you use the bookstore to purchase, whether by picking them up in person or having them shipped to your home. However, if you are paying for books and materials out of pocket, and wish to look for more flexible options for book rentals, ebook options, etc., you may want to consult other textbook providers online.

    What kind of computer equipment do I need for my classes?

    For fully online or online asynchronous (zoom to home) classes, you will need your own computer (not just a mobile phone), along with reliable internet … meaning you have constant access to the device and an acceptable connection daily. For Zoom to Home courses, you will also need to have either a built-in webcam and microphone, or purchase a USB webcam and microphone if your device doesn’t have one built in. Hybrid courses will also need regular use of a computer and internet connection, so it’s best to have both. While it is possible to use Southside’s computer labs and libraries in some instances, that may not always be possible during the COVID pandemic, so plan to have at-home options.

    Will I need to come to campus for online courses?

    While most online courses do not require a visit to campus, unless you wish to meet with your instructor in person, there are some courses that may have a face to face component, such as a science lab or proctored state test for certification.

    Why can’t I see my courses in Canvas?

    Classes are not made available to students until the Friday before the semester begins, so if you register early, you will not see your courses in your Canvas instance until that time. However, if you registered and do not see courses after the beginning date of the semester, please contact your instructor immediately. It may be a simple fix, or there may be a registration issue that needs to be corrected.

    Why isn’t the class I want being offered online?

    While we strive to offer the best catalog of courses possible every semester, some courses may not have enough demand to run them that often. If you need a course to graduate, please speak to your academic advisor about options to take the class from another VCCS institution. Keep in mind, however, that some courses are never offered in the online format because of requirements specific to that program. Such courses may have to be taken face to face on one of our campuses in order to complete.