Online Class Assistance

Online Education Director Dr. Hugo Córdova Quero (hquero@sksm.edu) assists online faculty in creating online educational environments that include the foundations for excellent teaching and learning. He helps students with various issues related to online learning and provides a modicum of support to residential faculty needing assistance with Moodle functionality. He holds virtual office hours and can also be reached through Skype (promisedlands001).

Students who enroll in online classes must be computer literate and have regular access to a computer with broadband internet. We strongly recommend access to a backup computer, because a malfunctioning computer does not excuse anyone from coursework. Students need to prepare their computers for online courses with the following:

  1. Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Firefox browser; Firefox is most reliable and thus recommended. Moodle is increasingly compatible with Safari, but there are intermittent problems. Chrome works best with iPads.
  2. Latest version of free Adobe Acrobat Reader and Flash Player. Most courses incorporate audio and/or video; most computers come with players. Check yours before enrolling in online classes. Although Flash Player plays the most common a/v files, you may need additional plugins, such as those installed on most computers, or they may be downloaded (free) from Windows, Apple, or elsewhere.
  3. Although Adobe Connect is the preferred means of interaction for real-time communications, some instructors may use Skype, Hangouts, or Zoom, especially for virtual office hours.

While Studying Online

You’ll spend a good deal of time sitting in front of your computer. We encourage you to gather embodiment practices and resources that resonate for your life. Here are some resources to get you started:

Moodle

  • Remember Moodle Help for Students. This page provides lots of frequently requested, practical help, much of it tailored for GTU students. A link to the page appears in the Moodle Support block on each Moodle course page, often in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Learning Moodle: Apart from the Precourse (“Orientation to Online Learning”), check out the Moodle Demonstration Site. There you will find the most recent stable released version of Moodle. Using free demo accounts (or create your own), you can explore sample courses hands-on without fear of “messing up” since the database and files are erased and restored every hour.
  • Visit http://www.moodle.org and set up a free account in order to access extensive Moodle documentation and user communities.
  • The GTU Moodle main site is at http://moodle.gtu.edu/.
  • Finally, MoodleDocs can be very helpful; i.e., Forums, Wikis, and more. YouTube is another rich resource for Moodle know-how. When searching for a tutorial for a particular function, avoid videos that are too old. The GTU’s current version is Moodle 2.7.

 

Further Assistance and Technical Support

  • Students should take care to keep instructors apprised throughout a semester. If you contemplate being away for more than 4 days, let your instructor know ahead of time. Or for longer absences, make arrangements with your instructor. Please use the instructor’s SKSM email address for all your communications. Instructors’ personal email addresses are not a channel for course-related communications. You can find the instructors SKSM email address either in the syllabus or in the SKSM online directory (www.sksm.com/meet-us).
  • See “How Students Develop Online Learning Skills,” http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/how-students-develop-online-learning-skills

 

Briefly

About Accessing Your Course on Moodle

All courses on Moodle are locked. Students registered in a course only can access it on Moodle after their registration process has been completed. After this, the Online Education Office will send you an enrolment key on the Friday before the beginning of term. Please be aware that registering to a course does not grant you access to a moodle course site, for the latter you need an extra step by using an enrollment key. The enrollment key can only be issued and used once the course has been made available by your instructor and only after your name shows in the class roster. No enrollment key can be sent to a student if her/his name is not yet on the class roster. Your instructor does not have this enrollment key and, therefore, cannot give you this information before the beginning of term. Please wait for an email from SKSM Online Education Office.

Most courses will become available on the Friday before the beginning of term,  thus giving you a whole weekend to be ready for the beginning of your classes. However, opening times are not prescheduled. Therefore, please check throughout the day to see if your course has opened, and please log in at your earliest convenience upon receiving the course enrollment key. Along with your enrolment key, the Online Education Office will provide you with a brief instructive on how to proceed with your enrollment.

About Posting

At Starr King we say participation is not an option. Rules aside, be willing to share your thoughts with others, and keep your comments both focused and relevant. Also, make sure you are clear about course expectations, usually detailed in the syllabus. Check with your instructor about frequency of logins and posting. Norms are 3-5 times per week. These times are not negotiable, meaning that you are expected to interact about 3-5 times every week.

Moodle is designed to lock itself after a certain time. If you are writing your post on Moodle and the systems locks itself, you will lose your work. Therefore, write it before either in MS Word or Notepad and then insert your post in the Moodle window. Many students –and instructors– have lost hours of work as a result of not paying attention to this aspect. So please be sure that you have your work backed up in a MS Word or notepad file before posting. Concurrently, sometimes the posting goes wrong, and if you do not have a backup, you would also need to start to write your posts all over again. Having a backup is the safest way to deal with these two situations.

Length of Message

A screen’s worth is usually enough. Once in a while, maybe two. Because reading on a monitor can tire the eyes, brevity is helpful and generally appreciated. Instead of posting a very long message, try to divide your thoughts into different conversations, so you can interact with more classmates in a given week.

Writing

Keep it simple. Use short sentences and capitalize rarely; perhaps only to indicate proper words, titles or headings. Unnecessary capitalization reads as SHOUTING. Please avoid. If you need to emphasize a word, just write it in italics. The use of “quotation marks” or underlying may be tough to read by classmates with different visual abilities. Your care about the needs of others contribute to make the class a nice and welcoming environment.

Time to Take Time

When dealing with sensitive issues, take a little more time to reflect first on what has been said and then on how you will reply. Even ask a question to the classmates posting in the conversation to be sure that you are understanding them correctly. Then compose thoughtfully. Even leave for a few minutes before returning to click that button. If there are thoughts that could be misinterpreted or could be taken as not politically correct, take the time to write an extra line explaining this. Better to be sure your classmates understand you correctly than creating an uncomfortable situation due to misinterpretations. You may also want to consult your instructor to check if your understanding of a topic or conversation matches the instructor’s perception, and then proceed to post your comment.

Humor

Be careful with sarcasm and humor. Not to say never ~a little wit can sometimes work wonders~ but flippant is almost never welcome, and online communications infamously misinterpret comments we thought were funny. Pay attention to this quirky phenomenon. Besides, humor is culturally-bound and many of your classmates may hold different conceptions about humor. In an increasingly multicultural environment at SKSM, cultural sensitivity is necessary when thinking about humor. Another aspect is that humor heavily relies on language, and for many of your classmates or instructors, English may be their second, third, or even fourth language, thus increasing the possibilities for misunderstandings.

Etiquette

Communication can be just a little bit harder when studying online. Thus always resist the urge to flame another class member. Sleep on it before responding to anything that sets you off, because you might see differently when you return. See “The Core Rules of Netiquette,” http://www.albion.com/netiquette/corerules.html. Please use inclusive or gender neutral language whenever possible.

Assignments

Throughout the semester you are expected to turn in assignments at certain deadline. Please be mindful that there is a reason for these deadlines. If due to illness, family or job related issue, you are expecting to be unable submit your work by the deadline, please contact your instructor to arrange for any lost work. By all means keep your instructor inform and negotiate about lost work so you can successfully pass your course. Be mindful that SKSM requires all turning in of assignments over Moodle. Submissions over the private email inbox of your instruction do not count as official turning in of your assignments.

Please remember that your instructor also has deadlines for submission of grades. Please remember that extensions are granted on particular cases, not as a norm, so please plan ahead in order to make the deadline for the submission of all your assignments. Your instructor is also required to offer you feedback or turning in your evaluations and grades over Moodle.