Frequently Asked Questions
We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions by students. Click on any question below to find the answer. If you can't find a response to a question you have, contact your Online Support Technician, Monday-Friday, or submit an after-hours support request anytime.
- What is an online class and Blackboard?
- Should I take an online class?
- Do I have to come to campus to take an online class?
- How does an online class differ from a traditional class?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking an online class?
- Do I have the computer expertise to take an online class?
- What hardware and software do I need to take an online class?
- What does asynchronous mean?
- What about synchronous communication. What is that?
- How will I communicate with my professor?
- What classes are currently offered online?
- Will an online class be listed differently on my transcript?
- How do I register for an online class?
- How do I find out what books I will need for my online classes?
- How do I buy textbooks for an online class?
- How does the drop/withdrawal/refund policy work for online classes?
An online class is a class delivered via the Internet that typically contains all of your required course materials, including a syllabus and lecture materials, as well as a forum for course interactions, such as a discussion board and email.
Blackboard is the online course delivery software adopted by the University of Houston System. Some of the things you may be able to do in Blackboard are
- Correspond with other students and your instructor via email and the discussion board
- Chat with other students and your instructor in real-time in Blackboard chat rooms
- View, print or download your course syllabus, lecture material, and slide presentations, as well as review related web sites
- Take quizzes online
- Check your grades
- Work collaboratively on group projects
- Submit assignments to your instructor electronically
Generally, if you are a motivated, self starter who has had difficulty scheduling a class that you want or need, and have the necessary hardware and software, online classes offer a good alternative to traditional classes. You must have the maturity and independence to stay on track, complete assignments, and communicate without the benefit of face-to-face class attendance
If you want to learn more about whether or not you are ready for online learning, review the Online Self Evaluation. For additional resources and guidelines, check out the Illinois Online Network's What Makes a Successful Online Student" web site.
Currently, most online classes are conducted entirely online. Some may, however, require occasional on-campus meetings. You may be required to attend an on-campus orientation, or you may need to take your midterm or final on-campus. Check with your instructors to determine exactly how many on-site sessions will be required for your online class.
Online classes are delivered differently; however, the course materials and level of difficulty of online and traditional classes should be very similar. A typical online class might consist of
- reading assignments
- slide presentations
- lecture notes
- homework turned in via email or the assignments tool
- discussion board activities or chat discussions
- online quizzes
The benefits of an online class include the ability to fit a class into a busy schedule, decreased commuting time to class, and more self-paced learning. However, some students miss the face-to-face contact with the professor and other students. Other students need the deadlines of class attendance to keep up with materials, and others find that they lack the necessary computer skills to be successful in an online class. Technology problems may be a concern for some students, but a willingness to speak up and seek assistance will help to minimize the impact of these problems.
To determine whether or not you have the computer expertise to take an online class, you should answer yes to most of the questions below.
- Can I install software on my computer?
- Can I download and install files from the Internet?
- Do I know how to work with multiple windows on my computer the same time?
- Can I copy files from a disk to a specified directory on the hard drive?
- Can I copy files from the Internet to a specified directory on the hard drive?
- Can I use email?
- Can I create a file and attach it to an email message?
- Do I know how to use word processing software?
If you answered yes to most or all the questions above, you should have the proper expertise to take an online class.
To ensure that your computer is capable of running an online class, you need to verify that you have the appropriate hardware, software, and browser setup by going through the Computer Requirements page.
Asynchronous means that participants are not required to be present at the same time in order to take or participate in the class. For instance, the professor puts materials and assignments online for you to view at a later time. You may send an email to a professor or post a discussion message and others may reply hours later. Asynchronous communication allows those with time or location constraints to work at their convenience. Interaction with the professor and fellow students is still an important part of the class, but the interaction is often asynchronous....via email, a discussion board, etc.
You will be able to communicate with your professors in a variety of ways. Most UHV professors maintain regular, on-campus office hours. UHV has a toll free number (877-970-4848) you can use to contact the professor during his or her office hours or to arrange a visit to their office. If your professor is unavailable, you can leave a voice mail message and your professor will return your call. Many professors teaching online also schedule online office hours--a time when they will be online and during which time they will either respond promptly to email or have a live chat room open for communication. In addition, professors may be contacted via email. Your professor will notify you of their preference to be contacted either through WebCT Mail or through their university email. Their contact information will be available to you on their syllabus, or by visiting your school's web site.
All three schools offer a variety of fully online classes. To determine what classes are offered online, you can look at the current course listing selection. Online courses are designated as ONLINE in the Rm/Bldg column. Many face-to-face courses may also have a supplemental online component, which may be an integral part of your course. Consult your syllabus and instructor for details on any online requirements for your courses.
A transcript does not distinguish between a class taken online or on-campus.
You will register for an online class just like you register for an onsite class, using MyUHV.
To determine what books are required for an online class, you can go to a number of places. Each school provides textbook information on its web site. Also, The Victoria College Bookstore provides a list of textbooks that are required for each class.
You can buy textbooks from a number of sources. The Victoria College Bookstore maintains most UHV textbooks and will mail books to a specified location. Also, the seasonal bookstore at the Sugar Land campus sells limited textbooks. Finally, you can order from any number of online bookstores, including Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com.
Online students must follow the same drop, withdrawal, and refund schedule as other students. Texas law requires UHV to adhere to the standard refund schedule listed in the current course schedule. Please call toll free 877-970-4848 for further information.
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