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CGS 1100 General Notes

In this course, students will use the college's to submit assigned work, take assessments, and communicate with your instructor. Many instructors also employ additional web-based resources to post notes, study guides and practice exercises. Your instructor posts such materials on his own web site at:


In case of access problems, he also maintains a backup (duplicate) of this web site at:


The can serve as a main portal to all of these sites, as they all contain links to each other. You are advised to periodically review the posted class syllabus for your section of the course to ensure that you have not forgotten any important course requirements and to view the class schedule of reading assignments and project deadlines and exam dates.

Hardware and Software Issues:

How to learn in this course:

An "average" student should expect to spend as much time studying course material outside of class as the course meets each week. Students are encouraged to employ a combination of the following learning methods:

When working on the hands-on exercises in the text:

Course Textbook

The textbook serves as a framework for the course curriculum and bare minimal reading. Students are expected to also make use of the plentiful online tutorial and reference resources such as those listed on the Microsoft Office Tutorial Links page.

Online Web Resources

Two primary web sites will be used in this course:


Because the college prefers that all classes be delivered through a common system, your instructor has linked many of the instructional resources on his web site to the college online server, which is controlled by a software package named As such, students will encounter frequent links between the college online server and pages on the instructor's web server. These links are written in such a way that they open a new browsing window to view the alternate site, leaving the starting site in the original window for easy return.

Student Access

Every student registered in this course is given an account on the . Accounts are established for students on this server automatically based on their college course registration information. Students who register late or add a course should expect a delay (of a day or two) before their account is active. Instructions related to accessing these password-protected web-based accounts can be found on the page. This page includes instructions for contacting IRSC support personnel for assistance using the system. If you need assistance with course content rather than using the online server, contact your instructor instead.

Student Activities Online Using the Virtual Classroom

Students should login to the regularly to perform class activities and check for messages from their instructor. After logging in, students should click on the word "Courses" at the top of the page to see a list of links to the "shells" (sets of web pages and other resources) for each course that they are taking. Typically, a student will click on the link to a course to retrieve its shell. All of the features mentioned above will be accessible from a simple menu of icons representing system features (called "course tools") displayed on along the left side the shell's window.

Understand that each instructor defines which features will be available in each class, so you might notice differences from other online classes. Web-based help is available from any screen by clicking on the word "Help" in the menu on the left side of the window.


The has a system for tracking student attendance. If you miss class, contact your instructor.


One of the major advantages of using the online server for communication between students and instructors is offered by its closed email system. Only users' accounts on the online system can send and receive email. This effectively eliminates spam (unwanted clutter or junk mail). It also restricts users from receiving any mail from outside of the online system. The fact that everyone uses the same Web-based email system makes it easier to provide technical support to users. You are requested to send all email related to this course to your instructor via the Email Instructor choice on the lefthand menu on the rather than to his college email address (unless the online server is inaccessible). Email sent to a student will be routed to his or her IRSC Rivermail account (or any other mail account to which that one has been forwarded).

Course Calendar

The normally includes a calendar tool that instructors can populate with assignment deadlines and assessment dates. In Professor Gibson's courses, the "Schedule" choice in the menu on the left side of the window serves as a link to a complete course schedule accessible through the Syllabi and Schedules page on his web site. (Note: A new browser window or tab will open to allow you to view this schedule without losing your place in the . You can close this at any time.)

Discussion Forums

The provides a group conferencing tool that it refers to as "Discussion Forums" similar to an old electronic bulletin board system (BBS). It allows class participants (students and instructor) to post questions or comments that can be viewed by all other participants. Readers can either post public replies or email private ones to the authors. It is accessible in Blackboard by selecting the "Discussion" choice in the menu on the left side of the window. This tools allows "threads" of discussion to take place, based on each original message posted. The posted threads are organized into a few named groups called "forums" that will be used in our class for different purposes as follows:


Course projects are described in detail on the instructor's web site and are accessible from either the (listed on the "Content" page reached through the lefthand menu) or the course home page or the Course Schedule (available via the Syllabus and Schedules page on the instructor's website). You are expected to have developed proficiency using course software prior to attempting each project by doing textbook exercises from the related chapter(s). When you are ready to submit an assignment (project), login to the and select this course from the Courses list and then select Content from the lefthand menu and scroll down to the project title for your project and click on it. Step-by-step directions for preparing files for submission and using the can be found at:



Students should study the posted study guide each assessment and ask any questions about it in class or via the Question and Answer discussion forum on the before taking an assessment. Assessment results are typically posted the following day.

All assessments will be taken online using the in the classroom on the day indicated on the Course Schedule and can be found listed under the Content choice on the left hand menu. Assessments must be taken on an IRSC computer. Student equipment may not be used for this purpose.

Students must know their usernames and passwords to take each assessment and should have successfully logged into the server at least once before taking the first assessment. Be sure that you set aside enough time to take each quiz in one sitting, as you will have only one attempt. There is typically a 75 minute time limit on each quiz.

During each exam availability period, click on the Content choice on the lefthand menu. From the Contents folder, select (click on) the title of the assessment (such as "Word 2013 Exam" to open a new window to start the exam. NOTE: You must have pop-up blockers disabled in you web browser to take an assessment. Because the assessment has a time limit, you will first see a screen advising you of this. Click the Begin button to proceed. A new window will open requesting a password, which will be provided by your instructor (or Testing Center proctor in the case of make-up exams). Type the password in the textbox and click on the Submit button. You will see a line of text indicating how much time you have remaining on the exam as you answer each question. Maximize this window. For each question, select the best answer by clicking in the circular radio push button in front of it AND then press the > (Next) button below that question. It is not necessary to press the button labeled Save Answer, although it is advised. You will be able to back up to view previously answered questions until your exam is submitted. When you have answered all of the questions, press the button labeled Save and Submit.

Don't worry if technical difficulties arise. We will deal with them. Be sure to notify me immediately if you have any problems. Most students say that the quiz interface is fairly easy to understand and use.

Checking Grades

To view grades in Blackboard, click on the My Grades choice in the lefthand menu. From there you can view a report showing all assignment and assessment scores. Assessment scores should appear automatically after the test period has expired, but the system does occassionally require manual attention by the instructor. So, if your test score has not appeared shortly after the end of the test period, notify your instructor.

Account Termination

The high storage demand required on the online server each semester might require the college to terminate class accounts near the end of the standard college final exam period (which can be found listed on the ). It is important that you complete end-of-term assignments and preserve (print or copy) any information that you want from the server before this time.

You are advised to review this page periodically to avoid mistakes and maintain effective control over your online course. For more information, contact your instructor.

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