Welcome to the University of Northern Colorado
online course demo. Sometimes it is hard to imagine what online learning will be like
— so this short demo provides a quick peek at an online course.
Think about some of the things that happen in a face to face class — the instructor
greets you and makes announcements about upcoming tests and assignments and other important
course events. Then the instructor might do any or all of these items — provide a plan
for the day, lecture, lead discussions, describe assignments, answer questions, grade your
assignments and provide feedback. In an online class — Blackboard, which is
the software that delivers your course, takes the place of your classroom and provides a
communication tool for all course information. Let’s take a look.
The first step would be to log in to your courses in Blackboard. The username and password
used here will be the same as what you will use for your university e-mail log-in.
On your BlackBoard page, the courses you are taking will be listed. Just click on a course
to enter it. Most courses enter on a main Announcements
page, where the instructor can communicate announcements, changes in schedule, reminders
and other important information. Along the left side of the screen is the course menu
that contains links to all important course components. As you can see, for this course
there is a link to the syllabus, along with links to access course materials, your assignments,
and the discussions, where you communicate with other students and your instructor. When
you click on an item in the menu, that page is displayed on the screen. So, let’s take
a look at some course pages. The syllabus page links you to the syllabus
document. This document contains important course information including required text
books, policies, and assignments. When you click on the link, the document will open.
Another important page is the Course Materials page. This contains the weekly units and provides
detailed instructions on what you need to do each week. Usually the information is organized
into folders. You would just click on a unit folder to see what’s inside.
This sample unit page shows example types of information that might be in a unit for
a course. Each week you will need to review the information, complete any assigned readings,
participate in discussions, and work on assignments. This unit includes a schedule, a short voice
introduction to the topic, a document to open and a link to a website. Everything you need
will be itemized and explained in the online course.
The assignments page will be very important because it contains information on graded
assignments. This page shows a Blackboard Assignment Tool that you can use to upload
an assigned paper, so that your instructor can grade it. The upload works just like doing
an email attachment. The assignment page is also where your instructor
would put exams online for you to complete. The exams are totally completed online. And
if it is an objective exam – one with no subjective grading – the test can be graded automatically,
showing you your score right away. Now lets look at the discussion board. This
is often the “hub” of the online class because it provides a way to communicate with other
students and your instructor. The discussion board will have several different discussion
threads. In this sample course, you see there is a discussion for General Questions, one
for introductions to get to know your fellow students, and a discussion for the first unit
of content. To the right you can see handy information
about how many postings are in each discussion and how many you HAVE NOT YET READ. It’s a
good idea to check in daily to keep up to date with these discussions.
Let’s look at the Introductions discussion. When you click on the discussion name, you
will see all the postings for that discussion. Each posting lists the author’s name along
with the date and time the post was made. In this sample course, the author names are
generic. But in your actual course, your classmates and instructor names would appear.
Just click on any thread to read what the person said, and to reply — very similar
to a message board or your email. Let’s go back to the course’s main announcement
page again to look at a few other course options. Each instructor can customize the course menu,
so you may see a variety of different selections. For example, this course has a Blog menu item,
providing access to a blog that you can use to communicate with other students.
There’s also a Course Tools link to provide access to other tools, such as email, which
enables you to easily send an email to your instructor or classmates.
There is also a link to the UNC Help page, with documentation and access to our 24/7
technical support center — you can always get help when you need it.
The My Grades link will give you access to detailed grades for this course.
Finally, at the bottom, some of your courses may include a “My Groups” area where you work
with small groups of students on collaborative projects.
As you can see, instructors and students in our online courses have many tools with which
they can interact and exchange knowledge. UNC is serious about online education and
the instructors work to ensure the same learning outcomes for online courses as they would
require for face-to-face. You get the same education in an online course, but with the
flexibility to “attend” class when it works for you. And we hope you’ll have a great learning
experience with us.