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Technical Overview

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Online courses are often offered in what is called “course management systems.” These are not downloaded to your computer. They allow you to correspond with your instructor and other students as well as read course materials. You can submit assignments, take tests, and receive grades from your instructors. The system that WLAC uses is called ETUDES (Easy To Use Distance Education Software) and it is very easy to use.


ETUDES Login Page

When you first access the ETUDES web site, you will be asked to log into the site at the top right of the menu bar. For login instructions and user name and password please visit the How to Login page. You don't need to login separately to each of your classes. Just login once to gain access to all of your classes. Be sure to review the system requirements on the login page.

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Dashboard

When you first log into Etudes, you will be on your Dashboard. It allows you to see activity in all your Dashboard sites.

Dashboard Student Quick-Start Guide

For more information on the Dashboard including what the icons mean, which courses are listed, the Dashboard Calendar, and Global Announcements visit the Etudes Dashboard FAQ


Course Homepage

Once you click a course tab you will enter that course and see its Homepage. On the Homepage you will see three columns.

On the left, you will see a navigation menu of all the tools available in your course. Simply click one of the items to switch to that tool or area of the course.

In the middle column, important information from your instructor.

At the top of the right column, you’ll see Recent Announcements. This is where your instructor will post important class notices.

Below Recent Announcements you may see Recent Chat Messages. These are only the most recent chat messages. To see them all, or to actually chat with someone, click Chat Room from the left hand vertical tool menu. Chat means to correspond with someone in real time.

The Calendar lists important events for the course. The calendar when activated will list open and due dates of modules, assignments, tests and surveys, and gradable discussion items.

Click on any date that is a hot link to view items that opened or are due to get a list of events.  

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Announcements

The latest announcements appear on the Homepage. A list of all course announcements is stored in the Announcements tool, which you can access from the left hand course menu. You can always refer to this area to review past and current announcements that may no longer be visible on the Homepage. Announcements always come from your instructor. Students cannot send announcements.

For high-priority announcements, your instructor may send announcements to your email address. If you have a valid email address for your account in the Etudes system, you will receive high-priority announcements. If you don't have a current email address in the system, you can update your Account by clicking “Account” in the top right area of any Etudes page.


Syllabus

The Syllabus tool is where your course syllabus is posted for the duration of the course. This is a very important document where instructor information, required textbook information, class rules, class requirements, and grading policies can be found. 

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Make sure you review the syllabus carefully on day one and refer to it as needed throughout the course. It is your responsibility to make sure you understand and accept your instructor's grading policies and other rules.

For high-priority announcements, your instructor may send announcements to your email address. If you have a valid email address for your account in the Etudes system, you will receive high-priority announcements. If you don't have a current email address in the system, you can update your Account by clicking “Account” in the top right area of any Etudes page.


Access Course Content

Modules are where most of the course content is posted. Within each Module are several sections of content. You may also see links to audio, video or other media with Module sections.

To get to the Modules area, click Modules from the left hand navigation menu. You'll be taken to a page that lists all the lessons that have been published by your instructor.

Modules that are available will be listed in blue. Simply click on the blue link to enter that lesson. Modules that are not available will be listed in black and you'll notice that the current date does not fall within the start and end dates. You'll have to wait until the start date to view them. All times will be Pacific Standard Time, unless you change the time zone in My Workspace.

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Within any module, you will see a navigation menu of links at the top.

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 Here is what each link does:

Prev

 Jumps to previous section

Table of Contents

 Goes back to Module homepage

 Next

 Jumps to the next section

Bottom row Left

 Goes to the current module homepage

Bottom row Right

 Displays the title of the current section

Discuss with Classmates and the Instructor

The heart of most online classes is the Discussion area. This is where you spend a lot of time participating in discussions, responding to your peers, asking questions, and collaborating on projects, regardless of time zone. In most courses, instructors require you to introduce yourself to the group as well as participate in weekly class discussions.

Discussions are generally broken into categories and forums with categories containing one or more forums. Each instructor organizes his or her site differently from other instructors, so they may not all look alike. To read the postings within a particular forum, you click on the title of that forum. This is also where you can post new messages and reply to others.  Your instructor can set up some or all discussions so that he or she can grade them.

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Take Assessments and View Grades

As part of your online course, you will take assessments. All assessments – essays, tests, quizzes, etc. will take place in Tasks, Tests & Surveys. You will be able to review your scores and feedback here as well.

Tasks, Tests & Surveys provides an informative test list that can help you monitor your progress and meet deadlines.

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When the tests are not closed, you click Begin under a test title. This takes you to Ready to Begin? with special instructions explaining the implications of getting started. It gives you the option to cancel and begin when you have a good block of time to work on your test.

When you are finished with your test, you can submit it by clicking Finish, located at the top and bottom of each page. Depending on the settings your instructor chose when creating the test, you may be able to see your test scores in Review, the Test List (Grade column) and in the Gradebook. These options are set by the instructor so they may vary from class to class.

Gradebook is a tool that lists your scores from all of the assignments, tests, quizzes, discussions, and other graded items in your course in one central area. This is a very helpful tool for you to keep track of your progress throughout the course.

Gradebook lists all assignments with their total point value. It also lists the points you received for each item. If you haven't turned in something yet, that column will be marked with a hyphen (-) instead of points.  Please keep in mind that this means that the gradebook will only reflect grades for assignments you have completed and will not indicate your overall grade until the end of the course.  Under Gradebook, note that some instructors will have it set to show total points and a grade-so-far. Some will only have the individual scores showing, no total.

Send Private Messages (PM)

Instead of using email, you should send private messages to your instructor or other class participants from thePrivate Messages area. The link to Private Messages is at the top of every Discussion and Private Messages page.

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This area comes with an Inbox and a Sent Box. The Inbox holds all the messages that come in from other users, and the Sent Box saves copies of all private messages you send to others.

Chat with Others Online

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The Chat Room tool allows class participants and the instructor to communicate in “real time” (synchronously).

Because it's difficult to find good times for everyone to 'meet' online at the same time, many instructors choose to not use the chat room for formal discussion, as it takes away some of the advantages of anytime/anywhere online learning.

If your instructor has the Chat Room tool enabled, you will see a link for it on the lefthand menu. When you enter the Chat Room, you'll see your name listed on the right side, along with anyone else who is chatting at the same time.

To chat, simply type your message in the box at the bottom of the window and either click theAdd Message button, or hit the return/enter key on your keyboard.

Access Resources

Instructors may include materials for you to review in ResourcesResources is an area where instructors upload various documents, handouts, images, links to web sites, and other media that they want to make easily accessible to you. What appears in the Resources tool will vary from course to course. Whatever materials you find in your course’s resources can be opened by clicking on the blue title of each item.

Contact my Instructor

etudes_13.jpegFor general information about your class, click Site Info from the lefthand menu. The Site Info tool contains a brief description of your class and also your instructor’s email address.

Please note that instead of sending your instructor email, we prefer you contact your instructor within the course site via the Private Messages tool. This way all class communication is in one area which helps your instructor recognize who you are and respond to you there.