Welcome to the Online Student Orientation at Black River Technical College. Please read each section so you will be familiar with the processes involved in taking online classes. If you are considering taking online classes, it may be beneficial to complete the Are online classes for me? survey.
What to expect
Taking online classes takes a certain amount of discipline and time management skills. Some may mistakenly think online classes are easier than traditional classes; however, in many ways, they can be more difficult.
In a traditional classroom, you sit at a desk, listen to an instructor lecture, take notes, and raise your hand to ask a question all in a specific place at a specific time. However, in an online classroom, you won’t be sitting in a classroom. In fact, you may never even see your instructor!
The freedom and flexibility of an online class allows you to fit the class around your schedule. While the benefits of this are obvious, don’t be fooled: An online class can be much more demanding than a traditional class and strict discipline is required in order to be successful! Therefore, a successful student will need to be self-motivating to stay on task and ensure assignments are completed.
In order to succeed in an online classroom, good organization is a necessity. It is advisable to keep a notebook for the class, as you would do with a traditional class. Write down to-do lists and mark off each one as each is completed. Some online instructors use a “checklist” activity in Moodle that will allow you to do this online.
In addition, it is very handy to write down important dates and assignment due dates in a calendar that you view daily.
One of the most important skills to have in order to succeed in an online course is good time management. As there is no set time to meet for an online class, you must discipline yourself to set enough time apart from your day to do the necessary work for the class. As a general rule, you will spend at least one hour outside of class for every hour in class. This applies to online classes as well. For example, if you are enrolled in a three hour-credit course, it is likely that you will spend at least three hours per week reading the textbook, studying, completing assignments, etc.
For a more detailed guide to using Moodle at BRTC, please see our Moodle User Guide for Students.
All students have access to the “Student Lounge” in Moodle, which provides helpful resources and information as well as a forum to discuss with other BRTC students.
To validate your enrollment in an online course, you will need to access the course by midnight on the first day of class.
To access your course, once you log in to Moodle, click on the name of the course in the center column. Once you are in your Moodle course, you are validated and you will not be dropped as a no show.
While the Distance Education & Instructional Technology department has set some guidelines for course layout, instructors are free to design their course as they please. Therefore, your courses may not all look the same. However, typically each course is divided into either weeks or topics, with the most recent topic at the top of the page, below the general heading section. The general heading section contains the name of the course and will typically contain important documents such as the course syllabus.
Reading the syllabus is a good way to become familiar with the class, including tentative dates for assignments and the overall structure of topics. It is recommended that you download a copy to your computer and/or print a copy for easy and quick access.
After you have read the syllabus, ensure you have completed the Student Agreement Form activity for your online class.
It is important to read instructions, if they are given, and click on all links for the current topic in your course
Communicating with your instructor
One of the consequences of online learning is that there is little to no opportunity for face-to-face interaction with the instructor or fellow students. Therefore, it is imperative that you are aware of various communication channels set up by your instructor, including Q & A discussion forums, Moodle messaging, and email.
For general questions, if your instructor has set up a “Questions” forum, it is best to use it. Using a discussion forum to ask questions of the instructor provides other students who may also have the same question to reference the instructor’s answer in one place. If you don’t feel comfortable asking on a discussion forum, or if the nature of your question is sensitive, you can also use Moodle messaging and email. Moodle messaging is accessed by clicking “Messages” in the messaging block on your “My home” page in Moodle. You can use the drop down menu to find your class and choose your instructor from the list of participants.
Your student email is a vital part of communicating with your instructor. It is important that you check it often. Your log in credentials for email are the same as Moodle (Username: first initial, last name and last four digits of your student ID; Password: your birthday in MMDDYYYY format). Student email can be accessed at the following url: http://www.blackrivertech.org/current-students/student-support-services/student-e-mail.
If you are having trouble accessing your email, contact Computer Services at (870) 248-4050.
Accessing BRTC services
Although you may never step foot on campus, you still have access to all of BRTC’s services, including the bookstore, library, tutoring, advising, and software.
You can buy and rent books online completely through the BRTC bookstore. For more information about purchasing and renting books, visit the BRTC bookstore website.
The library provides excellent resources for both traditional and online courses and has many databases that are available online. You will need a username and password, which can be obtained by contacting the library, to access databases off-campus. Online databases can be accessed by clicking the following URL: http://www.blackrivertech.org/black-river-technical-college-library/library-databases.
BRTC offers 24/7 online tutoring through Smarthinking. Smarthinking offers tutoring in many different areas and can be accessed using the same username and password as Moodle. You can access Smarthinking at the following URL: http://services.smarthinking.com/login/login.php.
BRTC students have free access to Microsoft Office 360, which includes software such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint. In order to run Microsoft Office 365, you will need a computer running Windows 7 or higher or Mac OS X 10.10 or higher. For more information about signing up for Microsoft Office 365, click the following URL: https://products.office.com/en-us/student.
If you have additional questions about Distance Education or using Moodle, please contact the Distance Education & Instructional Technology office at our help line at 870-248-4120 (available 8:00 am to 4:30 pm during regular semester hours; 7:00 am to 5:00 pm during summer hours) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.