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For additional assistance, contact CTLT's Instructional Design Team at (212) 346-1722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also view the sample introduction letter below.
We want to start off the module by presenting certain technical issues you should consider. Being aware of these issues should alleviate concerns during the first week of your course. It is not necessary for you to have the most powerful or the most expensive computer available. However, you will need to have a relatively current computer with multimedia capability and Internet connectivity. Visit www.pace.edu/ctlt/blackboard-browser-compatibility
Additionally we recommend having the following software or free downloads for a more comfortable experience:
- One of the recommended browser from the Compatibility page above.
- Microsoft Office, free download for Pace Students,Staff and Faculty at http://adam.pace.edu
- Adobe Acrobat Reader, free download at http://www.adobe.com/go/EN_US-H-GET-READER
- Java plugin, free download at http://java.com
E-mail - To take advantage of Blackboard's e-mail interface it's critical to be aware of the following: When Blackboard gets automatically populated with students it also includes their Pace e-mail as a default. Unfortunately we have found that many students either are not aware that their Pace e-mail exists or simply don't use it. Therefore, you should notify your students of the importance of their Pace e-mail and encourage them to use it! NOTE: Students have the option to "forward" their mail to any external account. Instructions for these procedures: adam.pace.edu
Course Shell Creation - As a result of the growing demand for use of the Blackboard System, the Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTLT), along with the Information Technology Services (ITS), implemented procedures in which every course offered at Pace University automatically receives its own Blackboard site or "shell." Each course is given its own shell in which course content can be uploaded, documents transferred, and online interaction takes place. Please note that this process of adding faculty to their respective courses is based upon information received from the ISIS system and is updated daily. As a result of the automation regarding the Blackboard system, all requests for Blackboard course shells should be sent directly to the ITS helpdesk. These requests include:
- Creating New Courses/Organizations
- Copying Courses
- Adding Additional Instructors / Teaching Assistants to Courses
- Technical Difficulty Issues
- Roster Issues
The Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology will remain a resource for instruction on using Blackboard, incorporating course content and addressing any functional issues.
Books for all of Pace’s online courses are available through the Pace online bookstore. Since it may take a week or longer to receive these books through the mail, you should encourage your students to order their books at least one week before the semester begins. That means that you should e-mail the course syllabus and reading list as early as possible, perhaps after the student registers. The address for Pace online bookstore is pace.bncollege.com
Please go there now to check to make sure that your course texts are available. If your required course materials are not listed contact Danielle Plass, CTLT's Coordinator-Support Services, at email@example.com. In addition to Pace online bookstores, some students decide to use other online bookstores like Amazon. Please make sure that students have the ISBN numbers as well as the correct edition to ensure that they will purchase the correct version.
Students enrolled in a WWW course are encouraged to get their textbooks through the Pace online bookstore. However, if a student usually purchases textbooks for face-to-face classes at one of the campus bookstores, WWW textbooks will be available in campus bookstores. If a student cannot find a WWW textbook they should see a bookstore manager for assistance. Any student enrolled in a Web-Assisted (WA*) course will find their textbooks in the Pace bookstore on the designated campus where they will be attending classes. Students also have the option of ordering WA* textbooks using the Pace online bookstore.
NOTE: Instructors have the option to make there course(s) available up to 3 weeks prior to the official start date of the class. In doing so students can order there books in a timely manner.
Another item we want to raise is the importance of contacting the students before the start of the semester. As you may realize, there are several obstacles that make it challenging for student to get “connected” to the course. This last section reviews what you can do to overcome some of the obstacles. One of the long-standing arguments against distance education, in general, has been the belief that the distant student is alone and not part of a class. It is important to reach out to your students before the start of the course.
As you may know, students are able to register for online and face-to-face courses at the same time, without first contacting the instructor. Students who are new to online learning will be directed to an online tutorial. This tutorial contains information on navigating Blackboard, the nature of online learning and accessing support services. While this tutorial is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged, and you should receive notification of who has not completed the final assessment in the tutorial by the start of the semester.
It is important that you communicate with the students to introduce yourself and the course and to reinforce information contained within the tutorial such as how to login, how to locate the Pace e-mail and where to go for help. We recommend that you send a letter (see sample below) by e-mail and/or by postal mail at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester. If you need help accessing students’ addresses, please ask your department’s secretary. It’s always a good idea to request that the students respond back even if they do not have any questions.
Another important aspect of your initial contact is to set high expectations for the students. When you create your course documents make certain that the students understand the work that is required and that you have established clear grading standards. It is also important that you stress to the students that there are deadlines for assignments and, if applicable, for the discussion boards. Deadlines are recommended since many students think that a distance education course has an open-ended schedule. (If anyone has taught an online course without imposing deadlines we would like to hear from you and ask that you share your thoughts on the discussion board on the Faculty Discussion Board.)
Below is a sample letter that faculty have sent to students that can serve as a model for one of the initial contacts. Please read them over and feel free to copy any parts. Please note that you can emailing your class using the following e-mail structure: CRN.TERMCODE@pace.edu -- with the CRN being the CRN for that particular course, and the term code being the semester of when the class is being given, i.e.:
- 10 – Winter intercession
- 20 – Spring
- 30 – May intercession
- 40 – Summer I
- 50 – Summer II
- 60 – August intercession
- 70 – Fall