Best Practices for Students
Your Online/Blended Learning Experience
At AUC we strive to make sure that you are ready and knowledgeable about your online and blended learning experience. It is important that you are aware of the differences between on-campus, face-to-face study and taking a course totally or partially online. We want you to be prepared with the right information so that you can successfully complete your studies. Here is an orientation that will highlight many parts of online and blended learning as well as what is expected of you as you begin your journey into the world of online and blended education.
Here are some key points that we would like you to review:
- Always access your AUC email for notifications and all course correspondence
- Review the minimum technology requirements section below to ensure your computer meets the specifications for your course
- Use proper netiquette
- Review the Academic Integrity Policy as this pertains to online study
Taking an Online or Blended Course
Taking a course online or blended can be a great experience, but it does require some special skills, like good time management and the ability to work independently. You should make sure that the online course will meet your educational goals. Next, to help both you and your instructor have a successful semester, carefully read the following expectations.
What is expected of you as an online/blended learning student?
- Have access to a computer with an Internet connection and be able to complete basic computer tasks, such as saving files, sending an email and researching information on the web.
- Make sure you can spend the time needed on the course typically 10-15 hours per week.
- Be self-motivated and self-disciplined. You will need to log in to your course(s) regularly. Make sure you have a private place to study and set aside time at least five days a week to work on your course(s).
- Participate and share your experience, ideas and perspective with your instructor and other students. You will use critical thinking and decision-making skills in an online course and be expected to apply what you learn.
- Take the course and yourself seriously. Learning online even partially is not easier than face to face learning and it is easy to fall behind
- Be willing to “speak up” if problems arise. Your instructor needs to know right away if you are having any problems with the technology or the course requirements.
- Be able to communicate through writing and use good “netiquette".
- Be willing to try new skills and be open to learning new things.
Frequently Used Terms in Online and Blended Learning
A blog is an online journal, meant to be viewed by the class, and can be updated by the author(s) and commented on by others. They can be class blogs where all can post, group blogs where postings are limited to group members, and individual student journals where only the student and instructor have access. Blackboard includes a blog feature, and many instructors use blogs for assignments.
A Wiki is a collaborative website that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own web browser. In Blackboard, wikis are used as a way for students to work on a group project online. Wikipedia is an example of a worldwide collaborative wiki.
In the discussion board, the instructor creates a forum around a question or topic and students post responses (threads) which the instructor and other classmates can comment on, the comments becoming part of the thread. This structure can lead to lively discussions that the regular classroom often doesn’t allow time for.
Blackboard Collaborate and Live Videoconferencing
It is possible that an instructor in an online course will use collaborate, a feature within Blackboard, to conduct a live lesson online. This lesson can include web conferencing, live streaming video and audio, live chat, virtual meeting spaces, interactive whiteboard, quizzing and polling and web tours. You may need to have a working microphone and webcam (for both, either built-in or connected to your computer) if the instructor requires audio and video participation in the project. To use Collaborate, you may need to install the Java plugin on your computer.
Simply defined, netiquette means etiquette on the Internet (or net).
When participating online, you will be communicating through writing and, at times, through audio or video to your instructors and fellow students, so it is important to communicate clearly and professionally. In order to maintain a positive online environment, we all need to follow the netiquette guidelines summarized below.
All students are expected to:
- Show respect for the instructor and for other students in the class.
- Respect the privacy of other students.
- Express differences of opinion in a polite, rational and professional way.
- Maintain an environment of constructive feedback when commenting on the work of other students.
- Avoid bringing up irrelevant topics when involved in group discussions or other collaborative activities.
The following list summarizes the kind of behavior that is not acceptable. Each item listed below could be brought forth for judicial action and possible removal from the class.
Students will refrain from:
- Showing disrespect for the instructor or for other students in the class.
- Sending messages or comments that are threatening, harassing, unprofessional or offensive.
- Using inappropriate or offensive language.
- Conveying a hostile or confrontational tone when communicating or working collaboratively with other students
- Using all purchasing all uppercase in their messages is equivalent to shouting.
If your instructor feels that a student is violating any of the above guidelines, the student will be contacted to discuss the situation privately. If you feel that a fellow student is behaving inappropriately, please send your instructor a private email message explaining the situation as soon as possible.
Academic Integrity Policy
Review the AUC integrity policy.
- Cheating is the unauthorized use or attempted use of material, information, notes, study aids, devices or communication during an academic exercise.
- Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person’s ideas, research or writings as your own.
- Internet plagiarism includes submitting downloaded term papers or parts of term papers, paraphrasing or copying information from the Internet without citing the source, and “cutting and pasting” from various sources without proper attribution.
- Obtaining unfair advantage is any activity that intentionally or unintentionally gives a student an unfair advantage in the student’s academic work over another student.
Minimum Technology Requirements
Online course content lives on a server that you can access through the Internet. Having a good set-up will make your blended and online learning experience much more pleasant.
For the best results you will need the following hardware and software:
- Reliable access to a computer (Windows or Mac).
- RAM (Memory): 512 MB (1 GB or more preferred).
- Hard Drive: 1 GB free space.
- Internet access (Modem: 56K, High Speed preferred - Cable/DSL) and a compatible browser.
- Webcam and headset for audio with speaker/microphone capability.
- Other software: Course dependent (read course information for required applications).
- If you are using a mobile device, we recommend downloading the Blackboard Student.
Note: Taking tests using the mobile app is not recommended.
Students are expected to be competent in basic computer skills such as:
- Copying and pasting material into a Microsoft Word (or other word processing) document.
- Saving, attaching, and printing word processing and similar documents.
- Composing, retrieving and sending emails.
- Surfing the web.
- Protecting the computer against viruses.
Check your Browser
Browser Checker allows you to check whether your web browser is compatible with Blackboard. The tool will identify any items that need to be updated.
Browser Plugins and Players
A browser plugin is an add-on software component that adds a specific feature to it. Many of these are "players," plugins that give the user the ability to use various audio and video filetypes. Your professors may post files that require users to have various players and plugins installed on their computers. The following are the most commonly required plugins:
- Java Plug-in
- Apple QuickTime
- Adobe Flash
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- VLC Media Player
- Microsoft Windows Media Player
- Microsoft Silverlight
Note: Downloading Adobe software gives you the option to download additional software at the same time. Uncheck any optional downloads you do not want.