Online Learning FAQs
General questions about online courses
- How do online courses work?
- So are online courses self-paced?
- Do all online courses look and work the same?
- Will I ever have to physically come to LPC?
- What if I can't make it to campus for a midterm or final?
- How do I register for an online course?
- How do I log into Blackboard?
- When I try to log in, I'm getting error messages. What do they mean?
- What if I forgot my password?
- I logged in, but I can't enter my class because it says "unavailable" next to it. What's up with that?
- I added a class after the class officially started. When can I log into Blackboard?
- What if I forget my User Identification Number and can't log in?
- I suspect that a firewall problem is keeping me from accessing Blackboard. What can I do?
Blackboard, The Zone, and Email
- How do I access Blackboard via The Zone?
- Can I access Blackboard without logging into The Zone?
- What is my email address for Blackboard?
- How do I access emails sent to me through Blackboard?
- What will my college email address (Zonemail) be?
- How can I change my Zonemail address to my private account for Blackboard?
- How can I automatically forward emails sent to me through Blackboard to my private account?
- Can I access my college email account without logging into The Zone?
- Both Send Email and Messages are available in my Blackboard course. Which one should I use?
- Are there any video tutorials that give me an overview of Blackboard and show me how to use some of the tools?
- What are notifications in Blackboard?
- Can I use Blackboard on my mobile device?
Technical issues within Blackboard
- Does it matter if I use a Windows-based computer or a Mac?
- Is there a preferred browser for using Blackboard?
- How do I set up Internet Explorer and Firefox to work optimally with Blackboard?
- Is there a way I can test to make sure my browser plugins are working correctly?
- When I try to post or type into Blackboard, I get a warning that says: "The application's digital signature has been verified. Do you want to run the application?" What should I do?
- When I try to type into Blackboard, there's a delay before my letters appear. What should I do?
- I'm having problems getting a Collaboration session to work in Blackboard. How can I solve this?
- I'm having problems whenever a new window opens in Blackboard. How can I solve this?
- I'm having problems posting in the Discussion Board? How can I solve this?
- I'm using Microsoft Word 2007 to submit assignments, but my instructor can't open them. What can I do?
- How can I hide outdated courses and those long course IDs on the My Institution page?
- How can I add my picture or avatar to Blackboard?
Technical issues outside of Blackboard
- Will I need to use a word processing program for written assignments?
- Does it matter which word processing program I use?
- How should I name the files that I will submit in Blackboard?
- I'm using Microsoft Word 2007 to submit assignments, but my instructor can't open them. What can I do?
- What are the technical requirements for taking an online course?
- My course requires an access code. What's that all about?
An online course brings LPC to you through your home or work computer. Class sessions, course materials, exercises, and even field trips are accessible any time and any day convenient to you. All of your coursework, including discussions, groupwork, and writing assignments, is done electronically. You simply log into your course through a web browser, and you're in class.
No, most are not. Depending on the instructor, you will have assignments that require you to communicate with other students just as you would in a face-to-face course. Most online courses require you to adhere to due dates for assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. If you register for an online course, expect to finish the course on the instructor's timeline, not yours.
No. Instructors have complete control over the design and organization of their courses. Just as instructors individualize face-to-face courses, they tend to do the same for online courses. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the course early in the semester in order to become comfortable with navigating to important materials. Also keep in mind that most instructors are not online all day and might not reply to your questions right away. Check the syllabus to see if your instructor details his or her response policy.
Well, that depends on the instructor. Some instructors like to hold the first class meeting on campus, some like to give midterms and final exams on campus, and some like both. Then there are those who never see their students the entire semester. So, it's up to the instructor.
Just make sure you let the instructor know ahead of time. With the proper arrangements, your instructor will most likely let you take a proctored exam at a mutually agreeable site. Then again, your instructor might even have everyone in the class take exams on their computers.
Just click Register to register online.
Below is an explanation of error messages you might receive:
"An error occured while the system was processing this login request." - This means that your Blackboard account has yet to be created. Often this is because you just enrolled in a class, and the process for creating your Blackboard account hasn't been completed, or you are enrolled in a class that is not using Blackboard.
"Could not login. Valid authentication credentials were not provided." - This means that you are in the Blackboard system, but your password is incorrect. Be sure you are using the correct default password format if you are logging in for the first time. If you previously were enrolled in a Blackboard course, your password remains, and you do not have to use the default password.
If you have forgotten your password, click the Forget your password? link on the Blackboard login page. The link brings you to the Lost Password page, where you can reset your password.
Your instructor has not made the class available yet. Once the instructor does this -- typically by the first day of classes -- you will be able to access it.
You should be able to log into Blackboard the morning after you registered for the class.
If you happen to forget or misplace your User Identification Number, you can always obtain it by logging into CLASS-Web with your old Student ID number and clicking the “What is my W ID” link.
If you are trying to access Blackboard from home, you will have to contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) for assistance. If you are trying to access Blackboard from work, you'll have to contact your employer's network administrator.
All students have college email addresses (Zonemail) that get automatically inputted into Blackboard. You can change your default Blackboard address in CLASS-Web, or you can set up forwarding of incoming emails from Zonemail to your private email account. Learn how to do this.
Log into The Zone, and click the Email icon. If you set up forwarding or changed your Blackboard email address in CLASS-Web, check your private email account.
Simply updated your email address for Blackboard in CLASS-Web. Click to find out how.
Use the one your instructor says to use. If you use the wrong one, there's a good chance your instructor won't see your email. Messages is an internal email tool that resides in each class--you have to log into Blackboard to see the emails. The Send Email tool routes email sent through Blackboard to students' and instructors' external email accounts.
Yes. Click to view them.
The Notifications Dashboard displays notification links to course items or course information that have been changed, submitted, created, or that have impending due dates. This allows the user to view all of the pertinent, changed information from a course.
For instance, if an instructor has posted a new announcement, the notification will display in the What's New module. Or, if an assignment has been submitted, then the notification will display in the Needs Attention module. Or, if the due date for an assignment for a user has passed, then the notification will display in the Alerts module.
Yes, but it depends on which mobile device you use and how you access your device's network. Click to view the details.
For most classes, no. Check with the instructor of the course if you are unsure.
Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox work best with Blackboard. If you are using Windows XP, IE 7 will work. If IE 8 is installed on your computer, make sure you click the Compatibility View toolbar button to display the web site as viewed in IE 7.
For Windows users, it is best that you have both IE and Firefox installed on your computer because if something doesn't work in one browser, it should work in the other.
If you are a Mac user, you should use Firefox. Safari will also work.
Make sure your browser updates properly.
Internet Explorer 7 and 8:
- From the Tools menu, click Internet Options.
- Click the General tab.
- Under Browsing history, click Settings.
- Under Check for newer versions of stored pages, select Every time I visit to the webpage, and click OK.
If you are having problems viewing the latest version of a page in Firefox, clear your cache.
- From the menu bar, select Tools.
- Select Clear Recent History.
- Check the box in front of Cache.
- Click the Clear Now button.
Yes. Click to find out.
Click Run. This will allow you to, among other things, use Blackboard's Visual Text Box Editor, a text area into which you can type.
If you're typing and see no letters appearing, wait a couple of seconds, and make sure you click inside the Visual Text Box Editor again before typing. If you use a Mac and get confronted with a dialog box warning asking if you trust a certificate from Thawte Computing, do the following: Click Show Certificate, click the triangle next to Trust Settings, and for "When using this certificate", choose Always Trust. Even by doing this, you might have to use the above technique when typing in the VTBE.
You will need to download and install the Java plugin.
Blackboard advises that if you are a Windows user and have a previous version of the Java plug-in already installed on your computer, remove the older version before installing the new one. To do this:
- Close all applications.
- Uninstall the current Java plug-in. Go to your Start menu, select Settings, then select Control Panel.
- Open Add/Remove Programs, and locate your latest Java update. Click it to highlight it, then click the Add/Remove button to remove it.
- Install the plugin you downloaded above.
- Log into your Blackboard course, and launch the Collaboration tool.
These problems are usually caused by popup-blocking software. Disable this software.
If you get confronted with a dialog box saying "The application's digital signature has been verified. Do you want to run the application?", click Run. This will allow you to, among other things, use Blackboard's Visual Text Box Editor, a text area into which you can type.
You can always disable the Visual Text Box Editor by going to Tools – Personal Information – Set Visual Text Box Editor Options – Unavailable – Submit. This will give you access to the default editor, which should work.
Click the circular icon to the right of My Courses. Uncheck the boxes under Display Course Name for the courses you want to hide, and uncheck any other boxes you want to hide. Click Submit. You might also want to unchecking the corresponding boxes under Display Announcements.
Yes. In fact, you should get into the habit of typing all of your assignments, regardless of whether they are research papers, emails, discussion board postings, etc., in a word processing program like Microsoft Word. That way, you can check your work for spelling and grammar errors before submitting.
From within Blackboard, click My Places at the top of the screen. Click Personal Information, then Personalize My Places. Follow the instructions under Avatar image and click Submit. Your picture will now show up next to My Places at the top of the screen.
Word is preferred, but you can use others.
You should name the files the way your instructor wants them named. Regardless, before you upload a file into Blackboard, make sure that the file name does not include special characters (!@#$%&*). Blackboard only accepts files with upper- or lower-cased letters, numbers, and underscores ( _ ). If you are using a Macintosh, add a dot followed by the three-letter extension at the end of the file name. For example, email_assignment.doc.
Save your documents in the .doc format instead of the Word 2007 .docx format because your instructor might not have Word 2007 on his or her computer. Your instructor should be able to open any file in the .doc format.
To save in the .doc format while in Word 2007, do the following:
1. Click the Office button.
2. Click Word Options.
3. Click Save.
4. Beside Save files in this format, select Word 97-2003.
5. Click OK.
If your instructor sends you a file in the .docx format created in Word 2007 (or a fellow student does the same), and you are using an older version of Word, you can open the file after downloading and installing the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack (Windows) or the
Open XML File Format Converter for Mac 1.0. These work for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 file formats.
What are the technical requirements for taking an online course?
Just click Technical Requirements to find out.