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School of Education, Health and Human Behavior

Online Learning Orientation and Strategies

Prepared for Instructional Technology (IT) Program
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE), IL, USA

The following is a selective list of important links related to online enrollment and effective online learning at SIUE. We hope this list is helpful for our IT graduate students who are taking online or blended courses in the program.

I. Online Registration and Billing
II. Your SIUE Network Account (Email and Web Space)
III. Blackboard Basics
IV. How to Participate in Online Discussions
V. Your Advisor Advisory Committee
VI. Successful Online Learning
VII. Research in Online Learning

I. Online Registration and Billing
Beginning with Fall 2007 classes, all registration is now done with an online system (Banner). This is a self-service system that provides greater access to student records. Students may enroll themselves in the classes they desire, but they must contact an advisor to receive an "enrollment PIN" in order to complete the registration process. The registrar's web site ( provides important information and links to class schedules, registration policies, etc. More information about the new online registration process is available at (

It is also necessary for you to access your CougarNet account frequently ( This is where you can easily access the University catalog, course schedules, your tuition bill, and financial aid information.

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II. Your SIUE Network Account
Many other resources and tools are provided to students at SIUE through an SIUE network account. To access these resources, you must establish and maintain an SIUE e-ID and password ( In particular, you need to use your e-ID for the campus email system ( because that is how your advisor will deliver your registration PIN and how the University lets you know about tuition bills and other announcements. Also, your e-ID allows you to access Blackboard (see below), and to create and maintain a personal Web site (to store your electronic portfolio, for example)..

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III. Blackboard Basics
Blackboard is a comprehensive course management system used at SIUE to facilitate learning, communication and assessment. It can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser that meets the minimum requirements for the system. You must log in to Blackboard using you e-ID (see above). The login screen is found at

Once logged in, content can be accessed using the three tabs at the top of the screen:

  • My Blackboard: What's available in the current semester and how to personalize it including "My Calendar"
  • My Courses: including Blackboard courses in which you are currently enrolled:
  • Content and Files: For organizing, naming, and loading course content into the Content Collection for all of your current courses (rather than into the course itself), as well as editing those files. This is essentially a web space for you to store files of any kind, and you can access them from anywhere at any time.

For each tab, there are also links on the left side of the screen to access specific information about the courses you are enrolled in that use Blackboard, including a syllabus, assignments, discussion board, etc. More information about how to use Blackboard is available at a support site (

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IV. How to Participate in Online Discussions
Much of what you learn will be consolidated and elaborated through online discussions with your teachers and fellow students. In fact, some courses even use online discussions to help assess your learning and assign a grade for the course. Below are some hints to help you be a successful online discussant.

  • Take the course and your study seriously
  • Be self-motivated, self-disciplined, and prompt
  • Be proactive and be prepared
  • Be willing and able to commit to about 10 hours per week per course
  • Read the course syllabus carefully and understand the deadline for all assignments
  • Study the content before participating in online discussions
  • Log on to your course at least 3 times per week
  • Be polite, encouraging, and respectful to others
  • Apply course content to all of your discussions and assignments
  • Always ask for help when you are not sure of anything in the course
  • Critically think ideas through before responding to instructor and peers
  • Avoid plagiarism. Cite literature using APA style to support your online discussions and assignments
  • Be ethical and follow the SIUE Student Conduct Code (

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VI. Your Advisor and Advisory Committee
When you are admitted to the program, you will be assigned an advisory committee. Communicate proactively with your advisor, either face-to-face or online. At the least, you will need to email your advisor each semester to complete your online registration, but other faculty members will be reviewing your work at various points in the program, too. Don't be an anonymous student!

The program faculty members' contact information is listed below.

Dr. David Knowlton Phone: 618.650.3948 Email:
Dr. Yuliang Liu Phone: 618.650.3293 Email:
Dr. Melissa Thomeczek Phone: 618.650.3290 Email:
Dr. Wayne Nelson Phone: 618.650.3586 Email:

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VI. Successful Online Learning

Below are a few resources that contains ideas that should help you be an effective online learner. If you find other sources that are interesting or helpful, let us know so we can add to this list.

Self Evaluation Quiz for Potential Online Students. Find out if you have what it takes to be a successful online student. Answer 12 yes/no questions to evaluate your potential as an online student.

An Introduction To Online Learning. This site provides tips for being successful in an online learning environment and links to other sites on distance learning.

What Every Student Should Know About Online Learning - what should you know before beginning an online program. This Web site includes strategies for learning from computer-mediated instruction and virtual classrooms: The virtual classroom discussion is outdated (in lieu of Second Life and other innovations), but still relevant.

• The Illinois Online Network has a variety of sources available Learn some tips for how to get the most out of your online learning experience. A list of 10 tips for how a student should behave in an online class. Some of these tips, such as using anonymity to your advantage, are very insightful.

Creating Strong Contributions to Electronic Discussions. David Knowlton. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Providing nine good techniques for improving students' contributions to online discussions.

Study Guide: Five Steps to Success in Online Learning. Pace University. A simple guide to online learning strategies: it suggests 5, but poignant, tips to succeed in online learning. It also has good links at the bottom of the page and several book recommendations.

Online Learning. This site included articles on how to evaluate online learning, effective online learning, and online learning degrees.

Online Learning Tips. This site provides tips for online learning from Northeastern University.

Online Learning Orientation. This site lists what it takes for an individual to be successful in an online environment and includes a quiz with feedback.

Distance Education. This site contains a quiz to help determine if distance education is right for you and numerous other links related to online learning.

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VII. Research in Online Learning
The following sources focus on research about online learning. Start your program of study here by familiarizing yourself with some of the current issues.

Innovate--Journal of Online Education. Published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. Registration is free. A great, peer-reviewed repository of journal articles concerning online education. Articles in the journal revolve more around design, but do touch on learning strategy. The articles below deal with cultural changes in online learning and how to use new online tools.

My Literacies: Understanding the Net Generation through Live Journals and Literacy Practices. Dana J. Wilber. Nova Southeastern University. A look at how social networking websites can enhance learning and how teachers must change their strategies. Since students use these sites to communicate, how can students learn by using these tools for an online course?

Facing the Challenge of e-Learning: Reflections on Teaching Evidence-Based Practice through Online Discussion Groups. Phill Clegg and John Heap. Nova Southeastern University. Since online discussions are vital to online courses, this article discusses the effectiveness of teacher facilitation of online discussions. How does student learning benefit from an active or inactive discussion facilitator?

Uses and Potentials of Wikis in the Classroom. S. Pixy Ferris and Hilary Wilder, Nova Southeastern University. Using wikis (user created/distributed knowledge websites) are a fascinating way for students to learn by creating and cross-linking student created content. A wiki is the digital counterpart of having a student teach a class, but instead of teaching a class, the student creates material in which other students will learn from.

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