The Catholic University of America

Frequently Asked Questions

 

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Distance Learning for Faculty

Distance Learning or online courses allow you to teach a class anywhere, anytime. They are ideal for faculty who need to work from home or travel for research and conferences. Online courses are also beneficial for reaching a wider audience of students.

On this page, you will find information to prepare you for the unique online environment.

About Distance Learning

Q1 What is online learning?
Q2 How can a distance learning (DL) course enhance teaching and learning?
Q3 What DL courses does CUA offer?
Q4 What is CUA’s DL policy?
Q5 What are the standards for distance learning courses?

Preparing to Teach an online Course

Q6 Who can teach an online course?
Q7 When are online courses taught?
Q8 What computer skills do I need to teach a DL course?
Q9 How can I learn to use Blackboard or another course management system?
Q10 How can I learn about DL course design and best practices in DL teaching?

Considering Technical Requirements

Q11 What type of computer do I need to teach or participate in a DL class?
Q12 What kind of Internet browser should I use?
Q13 What software will I need?
Q14 Do I need a high-speed Internet connection?
Q15 Where can I get technical support?

Accessing Resources

Q16 Are there any online tutorial services?
Q17 What if a student has a disability?
Q18 How can my students access library resources?
Q19 How will my students know what textbooks and materials they need?
Q20 How can my students purchase textbooks?
Q21 How can my students access other course materials? Do I have to scan everything?
Q22 Do I need copyright permission to use someone else's media?
Q23 How do I protect any digital media that I create?
Q24 Will I need local access to special facilities (e.g., a video-conferencing room or a proctored testing center)?

Scheduling a DL Course

Q25 How will my students know that my course is completely online?
Q26 Can my students still receive advising?
Q27 How will students register for my course?
Q28 How can I contact my students before the course begins?
Q29 When will my course start?
Q30 Will my course run on a fixed schedule or can I work at my own pace?

Taking a DL Course

Q31 How can I access my DL course?
Q32 Do I ever have to come to the CUA campus to teach my DL course?

 

About Distance Learning

Q1 What is online learning?

A. An online course is a class in which 80% or more of the activity is done online. Technology Services supported online instruction is generally asynchronous, which means that participants access materials on their schedule at any time of the day.

A blended or hybrid course is a course where online activity replaces 30%-80% of required face to face meetings. Both online courses and blended courses are considered distance learning.

Q2 How can a distance learning course enhance teaching and learning?

A. Distance learning courses leverage the power of the Internet to promote many advantages and educational opportunities. Some of these include multisensory and active learning, experiential learning, accessibility for non-traditional students, student-centered learning, collaborative learning and accessibility to a wide variety of learning tools and content. Studies show that students who have taken online courses often show improved performance in face to face classes.

The advantages for instructors include convenience, expanding learning opportunities to new areas, and gaining new methods of teaching.

Q3 What DL courses does CUA offer?

A.  Please see our online schedule here.

Q4 What is CUA’s DL policy?

A. Click here to read the regarding DL faculty rights, responsibilities, and workload.

Q5 What are the standards for distance learning courses?

A. The standards for CUA are currently being finalized by the Distance Education Commitee.

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Preparing to Teach an online Course

Q6 Who can teach an online course?

A. Instructors must have permission from their department to teach an online course. Once permission is obtained, or instructors are asked to teach an online class, they must complete the Methods in Distance Education course.

Q7 When are online courses taught?

A. CUA courses are taught during the Fall, Spring and during Summer sessions.

Q8 What computer skills do I need to teach a DL course?

A. Distance Learning courses are conducted in the online environment through Blackboard. While there are no technical requirements for participation, you should be comfortable with Internet navigation and word-processing applications such as Microsoft Word.

You should know how to use the features of the course management system for the online course. At a minimum, you should know how to post materials, communicate via the discussion board and chatroom, access and return papers, set up groups, create tests and surveys, and maintain an online gradebook. Training is provided by Instructional Technology. See next question for training details.

Q9 How can I learn to use Blackboard or another course management system?

A. The Instructional Technology division of Technology Services offers the Methods in Distance Education course, which gives faculty the student perspective of an online course, while instructing on online pedagogy, and introducing the myriad of tools in Blackboard. Hands-on trainings are held during the month. Please see our training schedule on our workshops page.
We also offer one on one distance education pedagogy consultations.

Q10 How can I learn about DL course design and best practices in DL teaching?

A. Sign up for Technology Service’s online course, Methods in Distance Education, and earn online teaching certification.

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Considering Technical Requirements

Q11 What type of computer do I need to teach or participate in a DL class?

A. Blackboard is designed to work cross-platform, so it's okay to use a Mac computer.

You must have an operational computer running a modern Operating System, and high speed internet.

Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 7 or 8

    •   Intel Pentium 4 2.33 GHz or faster CPU and at least 4 GB RAM is recommended
    •   Up-to-date version of Adobe Flash Player
    •   Up-to-date version of Microsoft Windows Media Player
    •   An up-to-date web browser (Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome)

Mac OS/X

   •   Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, 10.6 Snow Leopard or 10.7 Lion
   •   Intel Core Duo 1.33 Ghz or faster CPU and at least one 4 GB RAM is recommended
   •   Up-to-date version of Adobe Flash Player (or, VLC can also play Adobe Flash FLV/F4V files)
   •   One of the following media players:
            ♦   VideoLAN VLC media player
            ♦   Flip4Mac Windows Media Components for QuickTime

Note that the faster your system is, the better it will perform, especially when the use of multimedia is involved

Q12 What kind of Internet browser should I use?

A. We recommend using the most up to date version of Mozilla's Firefox, Internet Explorer or Google Chrome.

Q13 What software will I need?

A. You will need Microsoft Office or at least Microsoft Word. Otherwise, the necessary software depends upon what files you decide to post in your course site. If your course requires any special software you will need to advise students to obtain that software during the first week of class or sooner.

If you have an older computer with Microsoft Office or at least Microsoft Word, it may have incompatibilities with newer versions or hardware and software. In these instances, you may find it necessary to either update your software or go to a computer lab to take advantage of the most recent applications. Faculty can submit a ticket to see about getting their computer updated at help.cua.edu

Q14 Do I need a high-speed Internet connection?

A. Yes. Whenever possible, use the campus network or invest in a high-speed connection (e.g., DSL or cable) from home.

Q15 Where can I get technical support?

  • Technology Services Website http://computing.cua.edu/support/requesthelp.cfm
  • Call the Information Center at (202) 319-4357 (help)
  • Email Computing help at info-center@cua.edu
  • Walk in at Information Center 117 Leahy Hall Monday – Friday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Enter a support ticket to request help online at techservices@cua.edu

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Accessing Resources

Q16 Are there any online tutorial services?

A. Unfortunately, CUA does not currently offer online tutorial services. However, we do have an array of resources and videos at instructionallearning.cua.edu

Q17 What if a student has a disability?

A. CUA provides Special Student Services for students with a disability. Students who need special services must be registered with CUA's Office of Dissability Support Services.  Please contact DSS to find out more.

Q18 How can students access library resources?

A. The CUA Library has a a wide array of support systems, including an online chat with the librarian, subject matter librarians, and online tutorials.  Please see more info about Mullen Library here. 

Q19 How will students know what textbooks and materials they need?

A.  All required materials should be listed on the class syllabus and posted in Blackboard.  Blackboard also has a Textbook tool that will allow instructors to search a specific text book and post all details in the course.

Q20 How can my students purchase textbooks?

A. Students can purchase course textbooks by visiting the CUA Online Bookstore.

Q21 How can my students access other course materials? Do I have to scan everything?

A. No. Your students can access other course materials through different means:

  1. You can post written materials inside your course site, including links to web-based sources.
  2. You can ask the library to scan and place materials online through e-Reserves.
  3. You can provide CDs or DVDs that contain supplementary resources. Make your own or check with your textbook publishing company to find out if the company provides such resources.
  4. You can have your DVD’s, CD’s or VHS tapes converted and hosted by our Video Production office. Contact roe@cua.edu

Q22 Do I need copyright permission to use someone else's media?

A. To find out, check resources with CUA's General Counsel.

Q23 How do I protect any digital media that I create?

A. Check CUA’s General Counsel Copyright Resource Center.

Q24 Will I need local access to special facilities (e.g., a video-conferencing room or a proctored testing center)?

A. That's up to you. For instance, if you're worried about the possibility of cheating on a high-stakes exam, you may decide to set up proctoring for the final exam.

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Scheduling a DL Course

Q25 How will my students know that my course is completely online?

A. Advise your chairperson a semester ahead of time to make sure the class is listed as "online" instead of a room number or TBA in the location fields for Cardinal Station.
If you want to ensure that your students can meet in the chatroom at a designated time, also ask your chairperson to list an exact day and time so that it shows in Cardinal Station’s notes.

Q26 Can my students still receive advising?

A. Yes. If they cannot come to CUA to receive face-to-face advising, they can receive it over the telephone or via e-mail. They should contact their school or college’s Office of Student Services to obtain their advisor’s contact information.

Q27 How will students register for my course?

A. Registering for a DL class is the same as registering for a face-to-face class: Students will register online via Cardinal Station. Registration information can be found here http://enrollmentservices.cua.edu/Registration-and-Records/Registration.cfm.

Q28 How can I contact my students before the course begins?

A. When students register for classes, they are added to Blackboard. You can email students through Blackboard. 

Q29 When will my course start?

A. Normally, your online course(s) will follow the same Academic Calendar as on-campus courses.

Q30 Will my course run on a fixed schedule or can I work at my own pace?

A. Because most online courses follow the Academic Calendar, they normally run on a fixed schedule. This means that there is a set deadline for turning in assignments and taking online tests. In addition, if you list a time on the course schedule form you can require students to hold simultaneous online discussions ("live chats") at specified times.

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Taking a DL Course

Q31 How can I access my DL course?

A. Most online courses at CUA are conducted via Blackboard. To access your courses on the web, go to bb.cua.edu and log in to the Blackboard system with your username and password. Locate your particular course in the Courses box. For instructions on how to use Blackboard, please visit the our Blackboard resources for faculty.

Q32 Do I ever have to come to the CUA campus to teach my DL course?

A. This depends on you. If you are worried about the possibility of cheating on a high-stakes exam, you might decide to administer quizzes online and proctor the final exam on campus.

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