Are You Ready for Online Learning?
The absolute most important factor to your success as an online student is that you must consistently log in to your course and see what work is required of you. A minimum of 5 times a week is recommended, but if you want to be truly successful, check in every day. You never know when an instructor will change or update the course according to the class's needs.
All of these things can be developed by assessing your strengths and weaknesses and finding a way to always improve. You can use the link below "Aptitude Quiz" to assess your readiness for online learning and see what improvements you may need to make:
While technology can be a great asset, it can also decide to be difficult at the worst of times. Before you start this course, Academic Technologies would like to strongly suggest that you go through the following lists of information to make sure that your technology is up to date and prepared to help you be successful in your online class.
The browsers below are the ones that are supported to use Blackboard successfully. Always keep in mind that the browser software is updated continuously. A browser that worked fine with Blackboard one day may decide not to the next. Be flexible and proactive when you encounter issues with Blackboard.
IE (NOT IE7)
Check Your Java
- Go to http://java.com
- Click on "Do I Have Java?"
- Click on "Verify Java Version"
- Update Java if needed
When creating documents, slide presentations, spreadsheets, etc., you must use Microsoft Office or a compatible program (see 10 Free MS Word Alternatives). The UTEP-IT website can also provide you with any applications, compatibility packs, patches, and updates you may need. In addition, we recommend the following software:
- Adobe Reader (choose your OS - Windows/Mac/etc.)
- Adobe Flash Player (choose your OS - Windows/Mac/etc.)
File names should ONLY contain letters, numbers, and/or a dash (-) and/or an underscore (_) only. Also avoid file names that are too long. Otherwise, a file may not open.
- Example of a Bad Filename: Mr. Joe's assignment 5/10/2013.doc
- Example of a Good Filename: Joe_assignment_5-10-2013.doc
- Example of a Better Filename: Joe_assign_5-2013.doc
For PC Users
When uploading a file, make sure you locate the actual Folder you have the file in, Do NOT use the "Recent" folder, as that is only a link to your file. To see the file extensions for your documents (so you don't use .lnk).
UTEP's electronic resources (i.e. Library resources) are available to registered students when working from outside the campus network. In order to access these resources, you will need to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that basically recognizes you are a UTEP student and can look for journals and use subscriptions that UTEP or you have paid for. Setting up a VPN is simple. You can find instructions here:
- Adobe Flash Player should be installed on your Windows PC or Mac computer.
- Close down all other programs running on the computer. Having multiple programs open may cause problems that result in loss of quiz data.
- See: Check Your Technology above to make sure that everything is up-to-date and cleared before you start.
- Do not double-click the start button on a test while waiting for it to load. This can cause multiple instances of the exam to open, leading to some confusion.
- Do not resize or refresh the screen after loading the quiz/test; make sure it is the size you want before going into the quiz/test. Most browsers refresh the page when you resize the screen. This means it will try to reload the quiz and may prohibit you from taking the test.
- Never use your web browser's "Back" or "Forward" buttons, particularly when taking a test. This will end your test, and you may not be able to get back in.
- For tests that present one question at a time, click the "Next" button, rather than hit "Enter" on the keyboard.
Time management is a common problem for many online students. It can be hard to push yourself to study and get homework done when there aren't classmates around you doing the same. Your professor is well aware you may have a job and families competing for your time as well, which is why you may be taking an online course in the first place. You should not assume, however, this entitles you to miss deadlines, to ask for more time, or to not turn in assignments. We are ALL busy!
Here are some tips that may help you manage your time online:
- Plan and Prioritize: The standard, recommended amount of work by most American Universities is to allow 3 hours of additional work for every credit hour taken. This can be broken down:
- 3 hours of class time + 9 hours of study and prep time = 12 hours per week.
- Create a Schedule: A very simple strategy for being successful is to build a work schedule based off of the course deadlines and weekly work for each of your classes. Decide when and how you work best and when to dedicate your time to each activity that will be asked of you. Create deadlines for yourself that help you keep course deadlines.
- Use Various Study Strategies: Since online classes will likely only engage your visual and auditory senses, it is up to you to devise creative ways to use your other senses for learning. Studies have also shown that one of the most effective ways to cement something in your own memory is to teach it to someone else. Have a friend listen while you explain something you've learned, and you multiply your chance of remembering it later.
- Play Later: When you set a schedule for your online class, make sure that this is actually college time, not computer time. Minimizing interruptions during study time makes the work you do more effective. If you plan to study for a long time, give yourself short breaks to reward your hard work, but come back ready to continue!
- Cramming Rarely Works: Cramming is only a temporary fix. It might help you survive a midterm, but your overall retention of information comes from careful and consistent study. Would you want a surgeon to cram about the procedure right before operating?
- Ask for Help: Most professors are more than happy to help students who feel confused or are struggling in the class. It is much better for you to initiate that connection, however, as many professors cannot predict all of the questions their students might have.
- Set Your Own Deadlines: Make your own deadline for finishing online work a few days before the professor's due date. This helps you to account for sudden time commitments like work or family emergencies.
- Meeting Deadlines: Know this: if you wait until the last minute to submit your work an the technology decides to fail or you have other sudden issues, your professor will see the time stamp of your attempt. Even if you contact them to let them know of your issues, it will only bring even closer attention to when you decided to complete the work. Many professors will not allow you another chance to make up work past a due date. Always give yourself enough time to predict mishaps that could prevent you from turning in your work.
- Invest in a Laptop and/or Mobile Device: You do not need a laptop or a tablet to take courses online, but having one means that you can make good use of time that would typically be lost, like travel time (if you ride the bus), or even time spent waiting in line or for an appointment. Utilize every free second to keep from being overwhelmed by your work.
This course follows all major university policy regarding the American Disabilities Act, Student Behavior, Copyright and Fair Use, and Academic Dishonesty. Please read them below:
In Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, if a student needs an accommodation then the Office of Disabled Student Services located at UTEP needs to be contacted. If you have a condition that may affect your ability to perform successfully in this course, you are encouraged to discuss this in confidence with the instructor and/or the director of Disabled Student Services. You may call 915.747.5148 for general information about the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the rights that you have as a UTEP student with a disability. Individuals with disabilities have the right to equal access and opportunity.
If you drop before the UTEP drop deadline, you will receive a "W." If you drop yourself or are dropped by the instructor after the deadline, you will receive an "F." No incompletes will be given for this course.
Copyright and Fair Use
The University requires all members of its community to follow copyright and fair use requirements. You are individually and solely responsible for violations of copyright and fair use laws. The University will neither protect nor defend you nor assume any responsibility for student violations of fair use laws. Violations of copyright laws could subject you to federal and state civil penalties and criminal liability, as well as disciplinary action under University policies.
Student Online Behavior
- Always consider audience. Remember that members of the class and the instructor will be reading your work.
- Respect and courtesy must be provided to classmates and to instructor at all times. No harassment or inappropriate postings will be tolerated.
- Do not use inappropriate language, all capital letters, or language short cuts. Use appropriate language and proper grammar.
- When reacting to someone else's message, address the ideas, not the person. Post only what anyone would comfortably state in a f2f situation.
- The class learning management system is not a public internet venue; all postings to it should be considered private and confidential. Whatever is posted in these online spaces is intended for classmates and your professor only. Please do not copy documents and paste them to a publicly accessible website, blog, or other space. If students wish to do so, they have the ethical obligation to first request the permission of the writer(s).
Academic Dishonesty is never tolerated by UTEP. All cases are reported to the Dean of Students for Academic Sanctions. These sanctions may include expulsion. All work submitted must be original; students may not submit graded work from another course.
Forms of academic dishonesty include:
- Collusion: lending your work to another person to submit as his or her own
- Fabrication: deliberately creating false information on a works cited page
- Plagiarism: the presentation of another person's work as your own, whether you mean to or not (i.e. copying parts of or whole papers off the Internet)
Myth #1: It is easier to take an online class than a face-to face one.
- The Reality: An online class is not different content; it is not different academic expectations or requirements. It is simply a different way of delivering the material. In fact, some students really struggle with this format of learning because it takes more time, energy, and self-discipline to work through than the face-to-face equivalent. In an online class, you are solely responsible for participation and keeping up with the work. The trade-off is flexibility. You are able to learn anywhere, anytime.
Myth #2: Online classes are self-paced.
- The Reality: The flexibility of taking an online course only refers to your ability to work on it from remote areas. Professors usually have strict deadlines, reinforced by Blackboard due dates/times that will prevent late submissions. Participation and "checking in" to your course (like viewing Announcements, E-Mails, and Discussion Boards) should be a daily routine. In some cases, professors will drop you if you have not logged on after a certain amount of time. You need to "be there!"
Myth #3: You have to be tech-savvy to take an online class.
- The Reality: This may have been the case in the past, but learning management systems used today make navigating online courses more straight-forward and intuitive. Considering the technology support available, both on campus and online, the basic information is already out there to assist you with any online course.
Myth #4: You do not receive personal attention in online education.
- The Reality: This is really a matter of the attentiveness of the instructor. There are professors who are attentive in class and do a great job facilitating information. There are also professors who are not "present" enough in the course to make everyone feel accepted. The same is true for face-to-face classes, though, right? Reach out to your professor and your classmates in any class so that it does not become an isolated experience.
Myth #5: You can "hide" in an online course and never participate.
- The Reality: The truth is, because of all the tools available to a professor, it is far easier to monitor the interactions, the activity, and the participation of online students. This is also true for your classmates -- if you do not participate online, everyone knows it!
Myth #6: You do not learn as much when you take an online class.
- The Reality: Standards are not lowered because the class is online. If the courses are developed properly, the learning outcomes will be the same in online courses as they are for face-to-face. The assignments are going to be the same assignments that a student has in a face-to-face environment. In many cases, your professor went through additional professional development to teach an online course, and many faculty have stated that teaching the online class and having access to so much multimedia, digital interactions, and online resources made them want to improve their face-to-face classes!
Online learning is not a spectator sport. It is everyone's responsibility to participate fully so they can get the most from the experience. Here are some simple tips to follow to enhance your participation and engagement in your on online or hybrid courses:
- Ask questions: If you don't know the answer, someone else will. The Help Board or Café is the area for asking questions related to content or any challenges you are having. Make sure that you have clearly indicated the subject of your message. If you want your message to remain confidential, email your professor with your concerns using your UTEP email address.
- Reach out to others: Offer a fact, article, link or other item that can help others learn something related to the course content.
- Be appropriate: The online classroom is not the place for insulting or insensitive comments, attacks, or venting. Inappropriate behavior is subject to disciplinary action.
- Be diplomatic: When sending messages on emotionally charged topics, write the message and then walk away for at least an hour before re-reading the message and then sending it. Re-reading emotionally charged messages ensures that they are constructive instead of destructive. If you would not say it in person, then do not say it online either.
- Stay focused: Stay on topic to increase the efficiency of your learning.
Most online classes have a discussion board component to them. It is expected for you to discuss, demonstrate, and connect your understanding of the assigned mini-lectures, readings, and videos. Questions will be provided to focus your attention on the important elements of the discussion thread. Discussion boards serve as a critical analysis of the course material and academic discussions among students. Your professor will participate with replies to some, but not all, of your postings because it is their job to facilitate the conversation as for the whole class, not just individuals.
Effective Online Communication
Some professors require a minimum number of words in discussion posts. However, when possible, keep your messages concise and clearly written. Most ideas can be stated in a couple of paragraphs, although sometimes a longer message may be needed to develop your thoughts adequately. Keep in mind that people are more apt to read and digest shorter messages than long ones.
- Be respectful of other's ideas, opinions, and beliefs. It's fine to disagree with someone, but please respect their right to think differently.
- Avoid posting simple two- or three-word statements such as "I agree" or “Good point." If you think someone has made an especially strong point and you want to say so, and then explain why by adding a few sentences describing your response or adding to the original point.
- When posting on a discussion board, avoid the use of caps in your messages, as wording in caps comes across as shouting. Please visit our site on Netiquette and Synchronous Sessions for more information.
Many of the feelings or impressions that are shared using body language in face-to-face settings can be lost in an email message. As a result, interpreting emotions is much more difficult. Often, excitement can be misinterpreted as anger or insult. It is important that we all keep this in mind as we communicate. Words in print may seem harmless, but they can emotionally injure another when learning online.
- Should relate to the content of the email
- Should clearly let the receiver know what the email is about
- Ex: “Upcoming Project Deadline” or “Analysis Question”
- All emails should have a clear, professional salutation
- Ex: “Dear Dr. Johnson” or “Dear Professor Marrufo”
- All emails should be signed with your name
- Ex. “Thank You, Consuelo Salas”
If any files are attached:
- Explain the reason for sending them
- Indicate the program in which they were written
- Ex. “Please see the attached Excel file with the survey data”