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OnLine Basics | Technical Requirements | Enrollment Requirements
Course Schedule | Access to Virtual Campus

What is OnLine?

This is the delivery of courses and programs through the computer, using internet communications to link faculty and students. All students in this environment become actively involved in interactive learning groups. 

How does online work?

It begins with you enrolling in an online course. At that time you will be assigned passwords and login instructions. You must then undergo a brief technical orientation to teach you to use the sGroups System. This happens either in your first online class or in a separate technical orientation offered by Sellassie OnLine. OnLine students call an 800 toll-free number (online forms) each term to order their textbooks. As a student, you are expected to participate in your virtual classroom regularly. Participation, discussion, submission of regular assignments as required; OnLine education is not study by correspondence course, nor is it self-paced. Courses have regularly scheduled beginning and ending dates and there are deadline dates assigned for your classroom activities (including your homework, assigned readings, and even virtual classroom discussion requirements). Your online instructor will give you very detailed instructions to guide you through this process. You should never be in the dark about what is required of you. 

You mentioned eGroups®. What is it?

The eGroupshttp://www.egroups.com/group/cybersellassie is an Internet/Web based system designed to allow students to participate in classes in an online format. It allows students to send and receive information from your instructor, the classroom, other students, or groups of students. It is accessed via the Internet and is used to manage the information you send and receive to and from your class. There is no software to install. You will however be required to have an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Please reference "What kind of computer equipment do I need?" for specific information on system requirements.

What is a virtual classroom?

The virtual classroom is the common meeting area for all students assigned to class online. Each classroom has a unique URL. For example, an online marketing virtual classroom might be called webmarket. Only students taking that particular class have access to the virtual classroom, thus ensuring privacy for a group of students in a course.

I have trouble setting a schedule which requires me to be at the computer at the same time every day. How does your system allow me to attend class while others are not present to participate?

You must remember that this form of education is what the experts call "asynchronous." This means what you do is neither time nor place dependent. You "go online" to read lectures, participate in "threaded discussion," and possibly complete exams; many of the assignments and exercises required in online courses will still be completed off-line using word processing software. When you "login" to the system, you send your comments and homework – the computer, using web based technology, deposits it where others can see, or to a personal e-mail address which you have esignated. Students have 24 hour-a-day, seven day-a-week access to their classroom. 

Is asynchronous discussion really the way to go? For learning in the classroom, the more traditional face-to-face discussion seems more appropriate?

While almost everyone who tries this style of learning likes it, we find that it best suits those who have very busy work and personal lives. One of the barriers prohibiting many busy working adults from going to college is the requirement to be in a particular place at a particular time. Remember that online programs have been specifically designed to take advantage of technology. We have not attempted to replicate a model that works well in a face-to-face traditional environment. The online delivery method gives you the same results - but in a far more efficient manner! Also remember that in a "real" classroom, students are often allowed to sit without participating. In the on-line environment, this is not possible. Everyone must participate. 

It seems to me like not talking directly to your fellow students or teacher would affect the learning process. Is this true?

The primary problems associated with asynchronous communication come from the initial difficulty the student has in getting oriented to the new delivery method. Once acquainted with the process, most students report that an improved learning situation occurs. Everyone in your class has a different schedule, a different family situation, and a different time-zone. It is very difficult and inconvenient to get everyone together into one classroom without rearranging everyone's lives. The same is true for online. If we demanded that everyone dial into his or her class at the same time, we have effectively replicated the classroom online! That would defeat the purpose of this new learning situation. When communication is asynchronous, any student can participate anytime it is convenient to do so, whether that is midnight, or 4:30 in the morning, or in a motel room while traveling on business, in a car while stopped at a roadside rest area, or on an airplane at 30,000 feet. Online students have an opportunity to take their time reviewing the class archives (comments, lectures, and discussions) and can also take as much time as they need to compose their responses, the material and concepts are approached at an individual rate. Our students and faculty find that a level of depth and breadth can be achieved in asynchronous communication, which is more difficult to achieve with "real-time" or "chat-mode" text-based communication." 

What does a typical class look like online?

All online courses are broken down into equal parts called seminars. Typically, online courses are six-weeks in length. On the first day of each seminar (week), the online instructor sends any introductory information on the week's topic, restates the assignments from the course outline or module (things like textbook assignments, case studies, any papers due, etc.) and sends an introductory lecture to begin the study process for the week. To stimulate discussions, the instructor would also typically include discussion questions related to the topic at the end of his/her lecture. As the week progresses, you work on your readings, your assignments, and you participate in classroom discussion just as you would in a traditional classroom setting. However, you use the computer to participate in the class discussions, to carry on private discussions with classmates or your teacher, to ask questions and to receive any feedback. When your assignments are due (you usually have a specific deadline for your required work during the week), you send them to the instructor or to the classroom on-line. Instructors grade your papers, provide feedback and comments, and keep you informed of your status weekly.

Is an online course easier than an on-ground class?

They're about the same. The focus of the work is different, however. For example, all of your focus in an online course is toward reading and writing. This is not the case in a classroom setting where part of your attention is to listening and observation. Aural learners may have difficulty in accepting this more "visual" learning process.

Sometimes I want to talk to the instructor in private, and I know I would want to do that with my fellow students. Is this possible in the online environment?

Remember, essentially, the eGroups System is a conferencing (or email) system, designed as an expanded electronic mail system. Students use their private email account and are also assigned to virtual classrooms for their courses. Only students with enrolled in that classroom will be able to join in the discussion or view course materials. You may, of course, send and receive private mail to your instructor or any other member of the OnLine community at any time.

Suppose I don't want to participate? In a regular classroom, I can just sit in the back of the room and listen.

True enough. If this is the case with you, then you do not want to enroll in an online class. You see, in an online class, all students have an equal opportunity to participate in the discussions. In fact, if you don't participate, the instructor will not even know you are there! The online environment effectively demands that every student participate to succeed. For this reason, on-line classes are much smaller than on-ground classrooms. A typical class may have 12-20 students. Here is another interesting side effect for this learning environment. You do not have the capability to determine certain factors such as race, handicap, or personal appearance. Sometimes even gender is difficult to determine in the online environment. In this setting, IDEAS become the major focus.

Isn't online education just a glorified correspondence course?

Correspondence courses are most often self-paced and self-study arrangements involving written communication between a student and an instructor. Our online programs focus strongly on interaction. The things that make the differences here are group activities, participation in group discussions, information sharing... to include experience sharing, debate among students - even students and faculty, and a myriad number of social interactions that take place during the course.  

What kind of computer equipment do I need?

We recommend a Pentium® 100 MHz (or equivalent), computer system, running Windows 95 or higher. You must have a 3.5 high density floppy drive. You must have a 14.4 modem (U.S. Robotics or compatible minimum). You must have a hard drive with a capacity exceeding your current demands of at least 100 Meg. A CD ROM is required. Students must also have a working knowledge of computers, and have appropriate word processing software. Microsoft Office 97 is highly recommended.

In addition students are required to have an ISP (a national ISP is highly recommended as opposed to a local provider). For a list of ISP’s in your area please consult http://thelist.internet.com. Netscape Navigator 4.0 or Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher is also required. Netscape Navigator 4.6 is available from Sellassie WWW free of charge. Sellassie Cyber U will also provide a free email account to all registered students.

Definition of terms often used when talking about online courses.

Asynchronous: In computer programming, asynchronous (from Greek meaning "not at the same time" and pronounced "ay-SIN-kro-nus") pertains to processes that proceed independently of each other.

Browser:  A browser is an application program that provides a way to look at and interact with all the information on the World Wide Web. The word "browser" seems to have originated prior to the Web as a generic term for user interfaces that let you browse text files online.

Chat: On the Internet, chat or chatting is talking to other people who are using the Internet at the same time you are. Asynchronous communication is not considered chat.

Discussion board: A discussion board is a general term for any online "bulletin board" where you can leave and expect to see responses to messages you have left. Or you can just read the board. Bulletin board services were invented for this purpose (as well as to allow for the exchange of uploaded/downloaded files). This is where the on-line course discussion takes place.

ISP (Internet service provider): An ISP (Internet service provider) is a company that provides individuals and other companies access to the Internet and other related services.

Microsoft Internet Explorer: Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE) is the graphical World Wide Web browser that is provided with the Microsoft Windows 95, 98, and NT operating systems.

Netscape (Netscape Communications or Netscape Navigator): While "Netscape" can be short for the company called "Netscape Communications," it is most frequently used as the short form for "Netscape Navigator," the most widely-used World Wide Web browser.

Thread: a thread is a sequence of responses to an initial message posting. This enables you to follow or join an individual discussion from among the many that may be there. A thread is usually shown graphically as an initial message and successive messages "hung off" the original message.

Source: http://www.whatis.com

For a complete list of terms and information regarding computers and the Internet please refer to http://www.whatis.com.

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