Preparing Yourself for Distance Education

Introduction

Distance learning technology brings together students and instructors who are not in the same location. Distance learning courses at Sul Ross State University offer greater scheduling flexibility for students with full schedules and/or those who do not live in close proximity to the campus. Distance learning courses are designed for disciplined, mature students who are able to work independently and complete course work on time. This handbook serves to familiarize distance learning students with services and resources at Sul Ross State University.

Definitions 

Distance Education

• "Distance Education” is any scenario where the instructor is not full time in the physical presence of the students.

Other Distance Education

• Courses listed as "Distance Education" in the Class Schedule make use of the videoconferencing equipment and may or may not use Blackboard to manage communication and the delivery of course content. Distance Education courses do have regularly scheduled times when students meet, though not all students will gather at the same place.

Web Delivered

• Any content delivered entirely on the internet. It may be synchronous or asynchronous, it may use an LMS or not.

Hybrid (web-enhanced)

• A course that combines face to face instruction with distance instruction.

LMS Supported

• A course that may be fully online, hybrid, or face to face but still uses the Learning Management System in some capacity.

Interactive Television (ITV) Classrooms

Sul Ross maintains Interactive Television (ITV) classrooms where distance education courses and other events requiring the use of videoconferencing equipment are scheduled. Each room is equipped with monitors and cameras, as well as a document camera, CD/DVD player, VCR, and a PC that is equipped to handle PowerPoint presentations and other applications.

Attendance Policy 

V. STUDENT CODE OF CONDUCT & RESPONSIBILITIES

Students are expected to respect their classmates' and instructors' privacy and the work or comments they produce. All assignments you submit or tests you take must be your own work unless your instructor has requested that you work in groups. You may not submit work that is plagiarized or violates copyright laws. It is also your responsibility to respect copyright protection of licensed computer software.

If you are taking a distance education course from a remote site, please remember that you are guests on the remote site campus. The facilities, equipment, staff, and materials at that site are neither the property nor employees of Sul Ross State University. Please treat the site respectfully and be responsible in caring for the site that we have been allowed to use. Absence policies in effect for on-campus, traditional classroom instruction courses also apply to students enrolled in distance education courses, including Web-based and ITV courses.

The University allows a maximum of 20% absences in a course before an instructor may drop a student for excessive absences with a grade of "F". In Web courses, this policy is interpreted as not participating for more than 3 weeks in a long semester, 1 week in a summer session, or 3 days in the midwinter session. Any student dropped for non-participation will receive an "F" in the course dropped. Inactivity may include the following:

• Not logging on to the course

• Not submitting assignments

• Not participating in scheduled activities

• Not communicating with the instructor by phone or email, and/or

• Not following the instructor's participation guidelines stated in the syllabus

Distance Ed (Web-course) Non-Participation Statement from page 3 of the student handbook

Academic Honesty

Students are expected to respect their classmates' and instructors' privacy and the work or comments they produce. All assignments you submit or tests you take must be your own work unless your instructor has requested that you work in groups. You may not submit work that is plagiarized or violates copyright laws. It is also your responsibility to respect copyright protection of licensed computer software.
If you are taking a distance education course from a remote site, please remember that you are guests on the remote site campus. The facilities, equipment, staff, and materials at that site are neither the property nor employees of Sul Ross State University. You are to treat the site respectfully and be responsible in caring for the site that we have been allowed to use.

Moreover, please be aware of SRSU’s policy on Academic Honesty which is covered on page 2 of the current Student Handbook.

Reporting Problems

Report any problems immediately to your Instructor. Timely communication is very important and will assist in preventing small problems from becoming large ones. Your instructor is the person who will handle the immediate situation and contact others as necessary. The instructor will report the problem to his/her Department Chair if the instructor is unable to resolve the problem.

How to submit Complaints or Grievances

The procedure for submitting grievances regarding grades is documented in the academic section of the Student Handbook.

Student Grievance Procedure for discrimination
APM 4.07 (Reviewed 5/2012)

In compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the
Education Amendments of 1972 no student of Sul Ross State University shall, on the
grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, or disability, be excluded from
participation in, be denied the benefits of or be subjected to discrimination under any
University program or activity.

http://www.sulross.edu/sites/default/files//sites/default/files/users/docs/president/chapter_4.07_student_grievance_procedures.pdf

Methods of Communication

It is up to the course professor to open the Blackboard course for students. Some professors open their courses early, some wait until the first day of the semester, and some do not use Blackboard at all. Check with your professor to find out when (or if) you will have access to Blackboard.

All students taking distance learning classes are responsible for checking their Sul Ross email account regularly for notices from the School and from their instructors. A student’s Sul Ross email address is added to Blackboard when a student registers, so when instructors email students through Blackboard, the message is sent to the student’s Sul Ross email account. Email accounts are automatically set up when a student registers. In order to use your SRSU email account, you will need to log in to the email system. The information you need in order to log in is a username and a password. Click here for instructions on finding your username and password.

Online Privacy and Security Policies

Sul Ross Adminstrative Policies and Procedures Manual

It is the policy of Sul Ross State University to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and
availability of our information technology resources to fulfill our institutional mission. The complete policy is located here:

http://www.sulross.edu/sites/default/files//sites/default/files/users/docs/president/chapter_7.01_information_security_policy_revheader.pdf

Computer usage policies are further explained on page 6 of the Student Handbook.

Successful Online Learning

Online learning requires that students have a certain level of computer skills. Taking an online course can be very convenient, because you can manage your schedule, but it is NOT easier. It requires a different set of skills, some of which are self-discipline, ability to work independently and in groups at a distance, and ability to plan and manage your time. You must plan on spending 1 to 3 hours per credit hour per week on course work in an online course.

Technology does not always work correctly and there are many potential points of failure --your computer, your internet service provider, the University network or server, the University internet service provider. Do not wait until the last minute to submit course work. It is best to submit work during hours when technical support is availabe and there is still time to work around any tecnology failures. A technology failure is not always an acceptable excuse for late or missing assignments.

Recommended minimum skills for student taking online classes:

Computer Word-Processing Email Internet
  • Write down and understand your computer type (i.e. PC); hard disk size (in MB), memory (RAM), and software programs.
  • Organize files, rename files, navigate (locate) programs and files, open and close files from the Internet or CD-ROM.
  • Perform routine maintenance on your computer such as updating and running anti-virus and spyware removal software weekly.
  • Select and open a current word-processing program (such as Microsoft Word or a compatible processor that can save in .doc or .docx format – Microsoft Word format).
  • Create and format paragraphs and documents, cut and paste text, and change fonts.
  • Name and save documents as files. Save files in different formats such as .doc and .rtf.
  • Send and receive email messages using the online course email tool.
  • Attach files to email and open email attachments.
  • Type in URLs and navigate to specific websites. Move backward and forward to websites, use links, scroll bars, bookmarks, and refresh tools.
  • Use search engines, such as Google, Yahoo!, and others. Identify sites with relevant information and bookmark those sites.
  • Create and organize bookmarks.
  • Maintain recent versions of Web browser by down-loading latest versions from the Web. Activate certain features of your browser such as "cookies" and Java Script.