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GRA 3758 General Notes

Method of participation:

GRA 3758 is presently offered only as a Face-to-Face (or "F2F") class in regularly scheduled classroom meetings, however, all IRSC courses typically make use of 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. Professor Gibson posts such materials on his own 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 frequently 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 textbook and online readings, assignments, and assessment dates.

Outside of class, students are welcome to use college resources such as the computer labs on each campus and to visit a [Computer Science Tutor] or to contact the instructor for assistance.

Hardware and Software Issues:

Students are welcome to use any type of computer platform for this course and are encouraged to employ multiple web browsers to view the products of their work. Class projects will require that you use a plain text editor (such as Windows Notepad) to produce raw source code. The use of WYSIWYG (point and click) web editing software (such as Adobe Dreamweaver or a word processor such as Microsoft Word) is prohibited. You do not have to purchase any software for this course. Everything you need can be found for free online and will be introduced as needed during the course.

How to learn in this course:

The amount of time each student spends studying course material is dependent on the skills, experience, and learning styles of each student. A "typical" student should expect to spend a minimum of 8 hours per week working on a course. This includes time spent: inside a classroom, online, and studying. You are encouraged to explore and employ a combination of the following learning methods:

When working on hands-on exercises and projects:

Course Textbook

Textbooks serve 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 linked to the course home page. Reading assignments are listed in the Course Schedule, accessible through the Course Syllabi and Schedules page.

Online Web Resources

Two primary web sites will be used in this course:

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 support personnel for assistance using the system. If you need assistance with course content rather than using the college's eLearning system, 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. All of the course resources will be accessible from a simple menu of links 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 usage. Attendance will also be taken at the start of each face-to-face class meeting. IRSC courses have an automatic "drop for non-attendance/participation" policy during the first week of classes. If you miss the roll call for any class or fail to meet the deadline for any scheduled activity, contact your instructor.


All college email related to this course will be sent to your free account! If you want email that is sent there to be automatically forwarded to a different email account, you can login to your RiverMail account and set it to auto-forward all incoming email to an address you specify. For instructions to do so, read the page entitled "IRSC Student Email and Cloud Storage" at:

In order to provide a common, easily supported, email system for students and instructors, the provides a one-way system. All outgoing email is directed to either faculty or accounts (or to any other mail account to which you have forwarded your student email). This restricts users of the eLearning system from receiving any email from outside of it. You can send email to your instructor via the Email Instructor choice on the lefthand menu on the or to his college email address. Regardless of approach, be sure that all messages mention the course number and your name.

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 eLearning system provides a group conferencing tool that it refers to as "Discussion Forums". 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 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:

If a student wants to be notified by email every time that someone posts a message in a forum, the student should click or tap on the Subscribe button at the top of that forum's thread listing. The wording on the button should then change to Unsubscribe to allow you to disable such notifications in the future.


Course projects are described in detail on the instructor's website and are accessible from either the (select Content on the left-hand menu, then Projects in the Content panel), or from 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 through self-motivated practice (mentioned above) related to assigned reading. Because project are assessments of your skill, you must do them without assistance from other students. If you need help, visit a Computer Science Tutor or contact your instructor.

The projects in this course are designed to assess your ability to use specific skills or practices. As such, you should focus on accomplishing the objectives of each project using the methods and techniques stated in the project description. Grading will be based on your demonstrated mastery of the specific skill or practice stated in the project, rather than on completion of the requested object though other means. If you do not understand project directions or how to approach a project as described, contact your instructor.

Start working on projects early to allow time to obtain assistance from tutors or instructors if necessary.

When you are ready to submit an assignment (project):

  1. Login to the .
  2. Select this course from the Courses list.
  3. Select Content from the lefthand menu.
  4. Select Projects from the Content panel.
  5. Find 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. Students may not use any study aids during assessments (including the final exam) except for a single sheet of 8.5"x 11" cut paper containing notes on both sides. They can be written, typed, printed or photocopied in any size text. Assessment results are typically posted the following day.

All assessments will be taken using the in the classroom on the day indicated on the Course Schedule and can be found listed under the Assessments folder in the Blackboard Content panel. 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 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 Assessments folder and then on the title of the assessment (such as "Exam 1" to open a new window to start the assessment. 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 , 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 occasionally 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 eLearning server each semester might require the college to terminate class accounts near the end of each semester. 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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