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How are online courses laid out?

Because the layout of courses can vary greatly, be sure to take a tour of the course early to familiarize yourself with its various sections. Here is a breakdown of the different common online course components: 

Course information
Course Information

Also referred to as: Classroom, Course Schedule, Calendar, Course Outline.

This is the heart of the course--the lecture hall so to speak. Here you will usually find all the material for the course, including grading policies, weekly deadlines, lecture materials, and online resources.

Assignment Desk
Assignment Desk

ETUDES has an "Assignments" tool where you can submit your homework. 

In many custom-designed courses, instructors provide links to course assignments. Under each assignment, they specify whether you must email your work as attachments or post it in the forum. 

Testing Office
Testing Office

ETUDES has a "Tests & Quizzes" tool where you can take quizzes, exams, surveys, and practice tests. 

In some custom-designed courses, instructors provide links to tests, quizzes, and tutorials in the course schedule, along with the deadlines. 

There may be instructors that require proctored exams (mid-term or finals) to be taken on campus or another facility near you (to be arranged). 

Communication Center

At the heart of most courses is the Discussions & Private messages area. It is also referred to as the forums area. This is where classroom interaction takes place: formal and informal discussions, exchanging of ideas, and asking/responding to course questions. 

Make sure you understand the two types of online communication--one is not as flexible! 

bulletMost courses require some form of regular asynchronous communication, meaning users may log on at different times, whenever it is convenient. There are regular deadlines that you must meet; however, you get to plan class time to log on and complete activities.

bulletVery few courses require synchronous communication (chat/ ICQ), meaning users must log on at the same time for scheduled discussions or teacher/student conferences. 

Again, online courses vary in their design. Be sure to take a tour of your course. Most courses can be accessed during the first two weeks of the term by using guest/guest as the username and password. If you cannot log on to your course, email the instructor for access information. Some instructors will not give you permission to preview their course unless you are a registered student.

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