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DISTANCE LEARNING ORIENTATION
FOR
FACULTY

         Howard University's distance-learning (DL) courses allow you to teach a class "anywhere, anytime." They are perfect for faculty who need to work from home or travel often to research labs and conferences. DL is also ideal for faculty who wish to report from the field, e.g., from a foreign country that is the subject of study. On this page, you will find information to prepare you for the unique DL environment.

Learning about Distance-Learning

  1. What is a DL course?
  2. How can a DL course enhance teaching and learning?
  3. What DL courses does HU offer?
  4. What is HU's DL policy?
  5. What are the standards for DL courses?
  6. How can I find out about DL courses at other institutions?
  7. Are there professional organizations that I can contact to learn more about DL?
     

Preparing to Teach a DL Course

  1. What computer skills do I need to teach a DL course?

  2. How can I learn to use Blackboard or another course management system?

  3. How can I learn about DL course design and best practices in DL teaching?

Considering Technical Requirements

  1. What type of computer do I need to teach a DL course?

  2. What kind of Internet browser should I use?

  3. What software will I need?

  4. Do I need a high-speed connection?

  5. How do I find and activate my HU email?

  6. I have a non-HU account too. Can I specify my preferred email account?

  7. Where can I get technical support?

 

Accessing Resources

  1. Are there any online tutorial services for my students?

  2. What if a student has a disability?

  3. How can my students access library resources?

  4. How will my students know what textbooks and materials they will need?

  5. How can my students purchase textbooks?

  6. How can my students access other course materials? Do I have to scan everything?

  7. How can I find digital media for my course?

  8. Do I need copyright permission to use someone else's media?

  9. How do I protect any digital media that I create?

  10. Will I need local access to special facilities (e.g., a video-conferencing room or proctored testing center)?

Scheduling a DL Course

  1. How will students know that my course is completely online?

  2. Can my students still receive advising?

  3. How will students register for my course?

  4. How can I contact my students before the course begins?

  5. When will my course start?      

  6. Will my course run on a fixed schedule, or can students work at their own pace?

 

Teaching a DL Course 

  1. How can I access my DL course?

  2. Do I ever have to come to the HU campus?

  3. How can I avoid "maxing out" my email account?

  4. I wish I could talk to other DL teachers at HU.  How can I contact them?

  5. How can I increase retention?

     


Learning about Distance-Learning

Q1 What is a DL course?

A.  A distance-learning (DL) course is a course in which virtually no interaction or instruction takes place face-to-face.  Although instruction normally relies upon computer-based communication via the Internet, it may also require correspondence via CDs, DVDs, VHS cassette tapes, audiocassettes, video-conferencing, and other media.  Instruction may be "live" (synchronous), requiring everyone to participate at a designated time,  or "time-delayed" (synchronous), allowing each participant to access materials at any time of the day.

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Q2 How can a DL course enhance teaching and learning?

A.  A DL course can enhance teaching and learning by leveraging the power of the Internet to promote multisensory and active learning (i.e., through digital media such as animations, simulations, virtual field trips, and interactive quizzes) and to facilitate communication (i.e., between the teacher and students, the student and other students, as well as the class and guest speakers).

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Q3 What DL courses does HU offer?

A.  See the Distance Education Special Notice.

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Q4 What is HU's DL policy?

A.  Click here to read the University's policy regarding DL faculty rights, responsibilities, and workload.

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Q5 What are the standards for DL courses?

A.  See "The Standards Approach:  Planning for Excellence in Distance Education."

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Q6  How can I find out about DL courses at other institutions?

A.  Start with the Distance-Education Clearinghouse.
Other resources:
World Wide Learn

HBCUS Distance Learning

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Q 7 Are there professional organizations that I can contact to learn more about DL?

A.  Check the websites for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), EDUCAUSE and International Technology Education Association (ITEA).

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Preparing to Teach a DL Course

 

Q8 What computer skills do I need to teach a DL course?

 

A.  DL courses are conducted exclusively in an online environment. So, while there are no technical requirements for participation, you should be comfortable with Internet navigation and word-processing applications such as MS Word.

 

      Moreover, you should know how to use the features of the course management system for the DL course (e.g., Blackboard, Web Board).  At a minimum, you should  know how to post materials, communicate via the discussion board and chatroom,  access and return papers, set up teams, create tests and surveys, and maintain an online gradebook.  (See Q9 for details about training.)

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Q9  How can I learn to use Blackboard or another course management system?

 

A.  To learn how to use Blackboard, sign up for one of CETLA's workshops or see CETLA's Blackboard Resource Center.   To learn about eCollege, contact Dr. Narendra Rustagi at nrustagi@howard.edu, or to learn about Web Board (for Pharmacy courses), contact Dr. Youness Karodeh at ykaCETLA's Blackboard Resource Center.   To learn about Web Board (for Pharmacy courses), contact Dr. Youness Karodeh at ykarodeh@howard.edu .

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Q10 How can I learn about DL course design and best practices in DL teaching?

 

A.  Sign up for CETLA's summer seminar Best Practices in Distance-Learning and earn DL certification.  Or, if you can't wait, see UMUC-Verizon 's Virtual Resource Site for Teaching with Technology.

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Considering Technical Requirements

 

Q11 What type of computer do I need to participate in a DL class?

 

 

         A. Blackboard is designed to work cross-platform, so it's okay to use a Mac computer.

Browser

XP

 

Vista

Notes

IE 8

Compatible

Compatible 

 

IE 7

Compatible

Certified 

 

Firefox 3.0.x

Certified

Certified

Must run version 3.0.3 to use the Learning Environment Connector.

Browser

10.4

10.5

Firefox 3.0.x

Certified

Certified

Safari 3

Certified

Certified

Safari 2

Compatible

Compatible

Certified

Certified configurations are fully tested and supported.

Compatible

Compatible configurations are partially tested but should function properly.

Not Supported

The configuration is not tested or supported by Blackboard.

 

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Q12 What kind of Internet browser should I use?

 

 

A. We recommend using the latest version of Mozilla's Firefox. However, Blackboard will run in Internet Explorer (version 4.0 or higher). For AOL users, there are two main caveats to be considered:

             AOL may not display all course management system features correctly. Thus instead of viewing your course pages via AOL directly, connect to the Internet using AOL, and then open a new browser window such as  Internet Explorer.

             When the user’s idle time exceeds the allotted minutes, AOL will automatically disconnect from the server. This could lead to loss of all unsaved work, including answers to your online test in progress. To avoid this catastrophe, users are advised to access their course management system (Blackboard, WebBoard, etc.) via Internet Explorer. Or open another AOL browser window to another site and click on a link in that window often to maintain the ISP server connection.

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Q13 What software will I need?

A.  You will probably need Microsoft Office or at least MS Word.   Otherwise, the necessary software depends entirely upon what files you decide to  post in your course site.  You can find the most commonly used viewers and players here.   If your files require special viewers and players, advise students to download the viewers and players during the first week of class.

 

       If you wish to use additional software, check CETLA's Software Resources page to find out how to obtain free or discounted software.  Also, during Open Lab hours (see CETLA's calendar), you may use CETLA's software stations to edit photos with Adobe PhotoShop, create .pdf files with Adobe Acrobat, or produce animations with Flash.

 

      Note:  If you have an older computer with previous versions of selected applications (e.g., Word ), these may be incompatible with newer versions. In these instances, you may find it necessary to either update your software or go to a computer lab to take advantage of the most recent applications.

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Q14 Do I need a high-speed Internet connection?

 

A.  Although you can dial up to the HU network via a 56K modem from a PC or Mac, downloading will proceed V E R Y slowly.  Whenever possible, use the campus network or invest in a high-speed connection (e.g., DSL or cable) from home.

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Q15 How do I find and activate my HU e-mail?

 

A.  Go to http://www.howard.edu/technology/tutorials/network/find_username_internet.htm.

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Q16 I have a non-HU account too.  Can I specify my preferred email account?

 

A.  Yes. You only need to make sure that the email account you use most frequently is entered into your online course site (e.g., Blackboard) and Bison Web. For instance, to do this in Blackboard, click the TOOLS button, select EDIT PERSONAL INFORMATION, and enter your preferred email address in the appropriate text box.  To specify your preferred e-mail in Bison Web, log in and go to Personal Information.

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Q17 Where can I get technical support?

 

 A.  Go to http://www.howard.edu/technology/faculty.htm .

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Accessing Resources       

 

Q18 Are there any online tutorial services?

 

A.  Unfortunately, Howard University does not currently offer online tutorial services. However, performing a Google search for the desired tutorial should yield helpful links such as Darling's Grammar and Purdue's Owl for writing assistance.

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Q19 What if a student has a disability?

 

A.  Howard University provides Special Student Services for students with a disability. Click here to find out more.

 


Q20 How can my students access library resources?

 

A.  See the directions for remote access.  Then do the following:

1.   Check the Howard University Library’s eReserves link

2.   Access the Howard University Library’s online collection of restricted eJournals and databases. If the page does not open, be sure to enable cookies on your computer. This can be done in Internet Explorer by going through the following steps:

3.   Request an interlibrary loan.

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Q21 How will my students know what textbooks and materials they need?

 

A.  You should list the required materials on the class syllabus posted on your course site.

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Q22 How can my students purchase textbooks?

 

A.  Students can purchase course textbooks by visiting the Howard University Online Bookstore .

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Q23 How can my students access other course materials?  Do I have to scan everything?

 

A.  No.  Your students can access other course materials through different means:

  1. You can post materials inside your course site, including links to web-based sources.

  2. You can ask the library to scan and place materials online through e-Reserves.

  3. You can provide CDs or DVDs that contain supplementary resources.  Make your own or check with your textbook publishing company to find out if the company provides such resources.

  4. The World Wide Web is always an indispensable educational resource. Go to google.com and type in keywords regarding the topic. This will provide an array of useful links that can serve as supplementary course materials.  Also, check CETLA's Multimedia Resources for free, educational resources (see Q25).

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 Q24  How can I find digital media for my course?

 

A.  Start with CETLA's Multimedia Resources.  You can search by discipline to find free educational  animations, simulations, virtual tours, interactive quizzes, and other media that promote multisensory and active learning.

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Q25  Do I need copyright permission to use someone else's media?

 

A.  To find out, check the TEACH Checklist.

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Q26 How do I protect any digital media that I create?

 

A.  Check CETLA's Copyright Resource Center.

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Q27  Will I need local access to special facilities (e.g., a video-conferencing room or a proctored testing center)?

A.  That's up to you.  For instance, if you're worried about the possibility of cheating on a high-stakes exam, you may decide to set up proctoring for the final exam.

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Scheduling a DL Course

 

Q28  How will my students know that my course is completely online?

 

A.   Advise your chairperson a semester ahead of time to type "online" instead of a room number or TBA in the location fields of the course schedule form. 

 

      Note:  If you want to ensure that your students can meet in the chatroom at a designated time, also ask your chairperson to list an exact day and time.

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Q29  Can my students still receive advising?

 

A.  Yes. If they cannot come to Howard University to receive face-to-face advising, they can receive it over the telephone or via e-mail. They should contact their school or college’s Office of Student Services to obtain their advisor’s contact information.

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Q30 How will students register for my course?

 

A.  Registering for a DL class is the same as registering for a face-to-face class:  Students will register online via Bison Web. To find out more about this process, please refer to the Student Reference Manual.

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Q31  How can I contact my students before the course begins?

 

A.  Your course management system (e.g., Blackboard) may generate meaningless email addresses such as "youremail@school.edu," so don't use that email system until you have asked students to log in to correct their email addresses.  In the meantime, you can check Bison Web.  Log into the secure area, using your 8-digit ID (with the @ sign) and your 6-digit password.  Then do the following:

  1. Click FACULTY SERVICES.

  2. Click STUDENT INFORMATION MENU.

  3. View STUDENTS' EMAIL ADDRESSES.

However, keep in mind that all students do not check their HU email account and may not specify their preferred email address.  In that case, you may wish to view STUDENTS' ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS.

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Q32 When will my course start?

 

A.  Normally, your online course(s) will follow the same school calendar as on-campus courses.

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Q33 Will my course run on a fixed schedule or can I work at my own pace?

 

A.  Because most online courses follow the same calendar as on-campus courses, they normally run on a fixed schedule. This means that there is a set deadline for turning in assignments and taking online tests. In addition, if your chairperson lists a time on the course schedule form (see Q29), you can require students to hold simultaneous online discussions ("live chats") at specified times.

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Taking a DL Course

 

Q34 How can I access my DL course?

 

A.  Most DL courses at Howard are conducted via Blackboard. To access your courses on the web, go to http://blackboard.howard.edu, log in to the Blackboard system and locate your particular course in the COURSES box. For instructions on how to use Blackboard, visit the Blackboard Resource Center for faculty.

     

    Note:  Certain classes are held on Web Board as well.

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Q35 Do I ever have to come to the HU campus to teach my DL course?

 

A.  Again, this depends on you.  For instance, if you are worried about the possibility of cheating on a high-stakes exam, you might decide to administer quizzes online and proctor the final exam on campus.

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Q36  How can I avoid "maxing out" my email account?

 

A.  Check this tip from ISAS, but also ask students to submit papers and questions via the course management system.  For instance, students can post drafts via a Peer Review forum in  Blackboard 's Discussion Board, final papers via the Digital Drop Box, and questions via a Q & A forum in the Discussion Board.

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Q37 I wish I could talk to other DL teachers at HU.  How can I contact them?

   Just email cetla@howard.edu and ask to be added to the Distance-Learning User Support Group list.  Then you can email other HU-DL teachers and attend bi-monthly meetings at CETLA.

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  Q38  How can I increase retention?

        Attrition is sometimes a problem in DL courses.  To increase retention, interact with your students as much as possible, providing thoughtful and prompt feedback.  Also, refer students to the Distance Orientation for Students  and, if you use Blackboard, the Blackboard FAQs for Students so that your students can prepare themselves to excel in a DL course.

 

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