Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. I'm enrolled in different Distance Learning sections--"D," "HYB" and/or "ASY” sections. How do I log in? What do I do next?
The University of Providence uses two distinct methods for communication between distant students and their professors. ASY sections rely entirely on Moodle, while other distance learning sections use Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. Moodle is an asynchronous ("not in real time") course delivery method, but Collaborate Ultra provides live class meetings held in a virtual classroom on a scheduled day and time.
To access your courses, the first step you’ll need to figure out is what your student e-mail address is. It forms the basis of your login accounts for both these applications and will look similar to this: firstname.lastname@example.org (for example, Mickey Mouse's e-mail address might be email@example.com ). If you do not know what your e-mail address is, please contact our Service Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 406-791-5326.
Next, find UGF’s Distance Learning page here. This is a useful page to have bookmarked for helpful information about both Moodle and Collaborate Ultra.
Remember that most Collaborate Ultra meetings are held at specific times. You will be accessing the meeting link(s) from within your corresponding Moodle class section.
For a Moodle class, simply click Moodle and then Log into your Moodle Class. Visit our Distance Learning pages (UGF > Academics > Distance Learning > Moodle) to learn about logging in with your “initial temporary password” and what to do next.
Nearly all college classes require text books. Some UGF Distance Learning sections also require you to view video lectures, which are usually available electronically in your Moodle course. Besides your books, you’ll also need a class syllabus, which are typically also found within the class materials area of your Moodle course.
The first time you access Collaborate Ultra
You do not need to log into Collaborate Ultra separately; you will join any scheduled online meetings from within your Moodle course, where your instructor will provide a link.
Click to visit the Blackboard Collaborate Ultra site for helpful information on how to get started participating in your Collaborate Ultra course meetings.
Here's an online video introducing the Collaborate Ultra interface:
2. I'm enrolled in a course that involves Moodle interactivity. How does that work?
The Moodle teaching model allows students to participate in class asynchronously ("ASY") each week of their course. This means that students do not need to be online at the same time.
This is especially helpful to students who are working full time, raising a family or campus students who can not fit a specific course into their schedule. More specific directions are available on our Distance Learning pages (Academics > Distance Learning > Moodle). This page contains links to several brief (5-minute) tutorials that introduce the basics of how to use Moodle to participate in an online course.
If you have additional questions that aren't answered there (or elsewhere in this FAQ), please don't hesitate to contact our distance learning team for assistance.
3. I was right at the end of typing in a very long post in Moodle and just got informed I'd lost my connection, and all my work was gone.
Like most Web applications, Moodle has a built-in "time-out" for inactivity.
This means that if you don't click on a link to load a new page within that two-hour limit, Moodle assumes you've walked away from the computer and will drop the connection to protect your privacy. Unfortunately, typing on the keyboard does not count in Web applications the same as clicking on a link.
To avoid this problem, if you think you'll take longer than two hours to compose a post, it's safest to type it "offline" (polishing it in Wordpad or Word) and then copy and paste it into the Moodle forum composition window when you're ready to submit your posting. If you used Word with a lot of formatting, you might want to click Moodle's "Clean Word HTML" button (which looks like ) before you click "Post to Forum" in order to remove extra HTML coding that might clutter the posting in Moodle. (You'll know if you need to do this if you experience it once.)
4. I’m in a Moodle class and just encountered problems taking a test. For some reason, now I can't finish the exam. Is there something else I need to do?
Depending on how stable your connection to the Internet is, and which browser version you use, you may encounter problems with longer exams on Moodle.
For example, if you take several hours to research and submit your answers, the connection to the Moodle server might be dropped for "inactivity" even though you working on the test. The way Internet connections work, simply clicking or typing in answers doesn't qualify as "activity" unless you are periodically saving your work or moving on to another page of questions. If this should happen to you, you'll need to get your instructor to reset your attempt before you can restart the exam.
PLEASE NOTE: It is also a very good idea to take online exams only from a stable (preferably wired rather than wireless) connection to the Internet. We have heard of students who tried to take exams from their smartphones—some while riding in a car on a road trip. Think of how often a cellular call can get dropped, and you can easily imagine the rest of the story…
Learn from those mistakes, find yourself a stable connection in a quiet space free from interruptions, and your online exams should go well!
Normally, when a file is supposed to be submitted as part of the assignment, the instructor will include an upload box as part of the assignment. The instructor controls the option of allowing multiple files to be submitted, or of allowing a revised version to replace an earlier one. Some instructors may prefer that you e-mail your assignments, which should be stipulated in the directions.
One potential “show-stopper” is how the file might be named. Some computer systems consider certain characters “illegal” and prevent the file transfer before it even begins. For this reason, it's best to leave characters like “%”, “&” or “#” or other punctuation or diacritical marks entirely out of a file name you want to submit.
Some instructors will also accept/require assignments as e-mail attachments, and that preference may be detailed on the course syllabus. To make your assignments easy for your professors to open, you should save your documents in Microsoft Word format (.doc) or in Rich Text Format (.rtf). However, for certain writing classes, or for classes where a "paper" document, portfolio, etc. is deemed necessary, you may have to rely on the traditional postal system. Our address is:
University of Providence
attn: Your Professor’s Name
1301 20th Street South
Great Falls MT 59405
Some of our professors live at a distance too. If any of them require hardcopies they will provide you with a different mailing address.
6. I don’t live in Montana. When do I attend my classes?
Montana is in the Mountain Time Zone. We observe the same Daylight savings rules as (most of) the rest of the nation. That puts us two hours "earlier" than New York, one hour "later" than the West Coast, and seven hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time. Please allow for differences in time zones when you plan your semester enrollment. Here's a map of North American time zones to provide a reference.
7. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I have to miss one of my live class sessions. Is there a way to “make up” the class?
Fortunately, UGF’s delivery system was designed with the working adult in mind. The wise academics who first conceived of this fairly unique teaching method knew that occasionally "Life Happens" to us all.
Life throws a curveball and you just can’t make it to your class, log into the
Moodle portion of your course, and click on the Collaborate link. Rather than joining
the live session, click the Session Menu button in the upper left-hand corner to
reveal a link to access each week's Collaborate recordings. Because the recordings are listed by date, it helps to
know which week of the semester you may have missed class.
You can view
the recording right in your browser. Some courses also allow
you to Download and Save the recording of a session to your local hard
drive. After you have saved the file to your computer, you can watch it using
VLC (recommended) or another media player.
If you access the Recordings page and don't find any "Recent Recordings,"
select the Filter menu option in the upper right-hand corner to view recordings
by date range, and you should be able to find previous weeks' recordings.
8. What about exams? What is a proctor?
Most distance learning exams are conducted in or downloadable from the Moodle section of the course. However, testing methods vary from one professor to the next, so be sure to consult your syllabus or the exam directions in Moodle for specifics.
Some professors use proctored exams. Essentially, that means they want you to be watched while you take the exam to insure that there’s no possibility of using reference material or more time than is allowed. Usually an instructor will proctor his or her own tests for campus students, but distance students are responsible for lining up their own volunteer proctor. There is a form to fill out and return to the Academic Program Assistant responsible for distributing proctored exams. Click here to download a copy of the form. Once you identify a local proctor, he or she can remain your proctor of record unless you relocate or change proctors for some other reason. Return the completed form to the Program Assistants using the information provided at the bottom of the page.
9. I’m a Yahoo or AOL or similar public provided “free” email client. For some reason, I can’t get email from anyone at UGF (like my professors). What’s going on?
Some Web-based email services have very aggressive spam filters. AOL and Yahoo are prime examples. Should you receive an e-mail from someone new, someone not in their “domain,” that e-mail might be automatically classified as Spam and removed from your Inbox. In Yahoo’s case, such messages are often sent to the Spam mail folder.
For this reason, it is STRONGLY advised that you make full use of your UGF-provided e-mail address. In fact, this is your official e-mail address of record once you have become a student, and all official correspondence regarding registration deadlines, applications for graduation, reminders of payment schedules, etc., will be sent only to that account.
Consequently, it is very important that you make your UGF e-mail account your primary way of sending and receiving e-mail messages regarding your courses. If you have any difficulties accessing that account, please contact our Service Desk for assistance (406-791-5326 or 800-342-9824).
10. I plan to attend class from my local educational institution or place of work. Will it be any different for me?
LANs (Local Area Networks) and WANs (Wide Area Networks) are commonly found at schools, places of business, and governmental offices, including the military. These networks are often protected from the Internet by security measures such as corporate firewalls and varying levels of user rights and capabilities.
Most typically, employees of companies have very limited user rights that curtail their ability to install programs, download files or receive streamed data. Collaborate Ultra, for instance, uses streamed video and audio data during each class session. A student wishing to connect to class from his or her place of work or school should coordinate with the local Network Administrator. Occasionally, specific "ports" may have to be enabled on the firewall to allow attendance in the live class session. UGF Service Desk staff members are available to work with your local network administrators should any issues arise.
11. My microphone doesn’t seem to work, and my professor says that I’ll have to give some oral reports throughout the semester. What’s wrong?
Most of you will probably be using the microphone built into your laptop or Web camera.
If, however, you are using a stand-alone microphone, the first thing to do is check the microphone connection! Sometimes the cord isn’t plugged in all the way, which will cause "problems," or it’s plugged into the wrong port. You are also well advised to not use a splitter of any kind. Using a splitter or connecting multiple devices to one input can degrade overall performance as well as affect your microphone input. Be alerted that Collaborate Ultra looks for a sound card with speakers and microphone connected. Sometimes it doesn’t know what to listen to if you have multiple devices and will require extra tweaking.
Warning: the following steps are general guidelines that work on a majority of Windows-based PCs. There are multiple Windows operating systems in the marketplace with myriad types of sound cards and they all have features that vary from these general steps. Nonetheless, something similar to them should be available on your PC. Mac users are again advised to consult their documentation.
Do you have a little loudspeaker icon on your taskbar next to the Time of Day? That is the Volume Control icon, and right-clicking on it allows you to access a menu that allows you to adjust your "Recording devices." Depending on what's attached to your computer, you may have several devices listed that you can select or configure. Here is an example of what that panel may look like:
You should see the green bars move when you speak into or lightly tap your microphone. If not, you may need to adjust its settings. By selecting the device you want to use as your active microphone and then clicking the Properties button, you will be able to adjust the volume levels.
Your computer may or may not offer advanced controls for your particular microphone. Please note that the settings panel shown above offers a Microphone Boost, which allows you to boost your mic output. So if your professor complains of hardly being able to hear you, this is probably the fix. Not all devices have this setting, however, so you will have to work with your particular levels to get the best result.
As always, if you have problems adjusting these settings so they work in your live class sessions, please contact our Service Desk for assistance (406-791-5326 or 800-342-9824).
12. My instructor can't open the documents I send. What's going on?
Your word processing program saves documents in a different format which isn't compatible with the version you instructor is using, and the format he or she will accept is often spelled out in the course syllabus.
Fortunately, this is fairly easy to fix. Most programs allow you to save in a variety of standard formats by using "File" > "Save As" to specify the correct format. The most commonly available standard format is .doc (for Microsoft Word). Here's an example of how you can customize Word 2007 (and later) to save by default in a more compatible format by following the steps in this graphic:
13. I'm trying to upload a file into Moodle, but it is too large. How can I get around this?
Because our Moodle server provides over 400 courses each term, each course has a limit on the size of files that can be uploaded to it. Larger files (such as video clips or PowerPoints with embedded audio) will not upload correctly. You will need to find another way to submit your assignment, but if the file is too large to upload into Moodle, it is probably too large to send as an e-mail attachment as well.
Fortunately, this is fairly easy to work around. All students have an ArgoMail e-mail account, and accessing that through Office 365/Outlook also gives you access to 1 TB (terabyte) of Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage. Simply click on the applications icon in the upper left-hand corner to find the link to your OneDrive cloud storage, which you may need to initialize the first time you access it:
If you do not already have a folder called "Shared with Everyone" in your OneDrive Documents storage, you should create one first and make sure the sharing is set to "Everyone."
Click to enter that shared folder, and upload your large file there:
When the file is finished uploading, click the ". . ." icon to select "Get a link." This will bring up a dialog box creating the URL (web address) that points directly to your large file in your OneDrive shared folder. Confirm that address is a "View" link, and copy it (refer to the image below).
This will be the link you can paste into a Word document that you can upload as your assignment submission within Moodle. Because this will be a one-page document, it will easily upload into Moodle. (This is only necessary if you are supposed to upload an assignment. If you are supposed to post to a discussion forum, simply paste the URL (web address) into the forum text editing box.)
Please note that some browsers (such as Chrome or Safari)
may not work well uploading to OneDrive, so you should try using Internet Explorer or Firefox
if you encounter any problems.
In addition, when accessing OneDrive links to large files with embedded audio, you may see messages indicating the audio cannot be played because it exceeds size limitations. You can click on the ". . ." menu link above the file in OneDrive to select the Download option in order to save the file to your local PC, where you can then open the file (e.g. in PowerPoint) and play the audio fine.