Virtual Valley: Online Resources
Frequently Asked Questions

By Gayle Fortnataro, Virtual Valley Student Success Coordinator

Question MarkFrequently Asked Questions

 

 

The Basics

<empty> How do I know an online class is right for me?

<empty> What's the difference between an online class and a hybrid class?

<empty> Where do I find a list of online courses?

<empty> What technology skills do I need to be able to take an online course?

<empty> Are online courses easier than traditional, on-campus courses?

<empty> Are online courses the same quality as on-campus courses?

<empty> Do I have to be online at a certain time to take my class?

 

Getting Started

 

What is ETUDES?

<empty> How do I enroll in an online course?

How do I log into my class website?

What do I do if I can't log in?

How Do I Contact My Instructor?

How do I Find the Websites of LAVC Instructors?

<empty> Should I contact my instructor before the class starts?

<empty> Where do I go for help with my online class?

How Do I Send an Email Attchment?

 

 

 

Hardware and Software

 

Do I need my own computer to take an online or hybrid course?

<empty> What computer equipment do I need to take an online class?

<empty> Do I need to buy a special computer program to take an online class?


Do I need an Email account?

What is the difference between a PC and a Mac?

If I want to purchase a new computer, should I buy a PC or a Mac?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:

The Basics:

<empty> How do I know an online course is right for me?
 

Students who are most successful in online courses are those who are self-motivated, self-disciplined (able to make and stick to a study schedule), and who have good technology skills.

Before taking signing up for a class, check out our Online Readiness Quiz

Once you are in an online class we recommend that you take two online tutorials, available on the Virtual Valley Student Resources webpage, or by clicking on the links below:

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<empty> What’s the difference between an online course and a hybrid course?
 

An online course is conducted entirely over the internet. Course materials are posted on a course website.  Most online courses never require meeting on campus. However, there are some professors who do require students to attend an orientation session or take exams on campus. Make sure that you understand the instructor's attendance policy before enrolling in a class that will have meetings that you know you won't be able to attend.

A hybrid course combines online learning with face-to-face class sessions on campus with your professor and your class mates. The campus sessions meet on a regular basis. However, you do spend less time in the actual classroom than you would in a regular class.

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<empty> Where do I find a list of online courses?
 

Go to the Virtual Valley Homepage

Click on the link that says “Online Schedule of Classes.” You will find the classes listed by semester.

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<empty> What technology skills do I need to be able to take an online
course?
  Students taking online classes are more likely to be successful if they possess the following technology skills before starting their course:
    • Know how to use a mouse and keyboard to select and start programs, and to enter information.
    • Know how to connect to the Internet and use web browser software to locate information on the Internet.
    • Know how to create and manage folders on a computer, including finding, uploading, downloading, and saving individual files.
    • Know how to send email attachments
    • Know how to download and install "plug-in" software such as media viewers, java, etc.
    • Know how to manage security settings on your computer through the Internet browser software and firewall.
    • Know how to use word processing software such as Microsoft Word to create, edit, and print text documents.
    • Know how to "cut and paste" and "copy and paste" within documents.
    • Know how to send and receive messages using e-mail.

If you need help developing any of these skills prior to taking an online class, study the following two tutorials, available on the Student Resources page of the virtual valley website:

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<empty> Are online courses easier than traditional, on-campus courses?
 

The short answer is no. Online and hybrid courses teach the same material as our on-campus courses.

Online classes may even require more weekly work, but they are more convenient.

Students who have poor technology skills or who need the discipline of regularly scheduled class meetings in order to stay on task are likely to feel that online courses are more difficult than classroom-based courses.

Students who have good technology skills, are self-disciplined, regularly make time to study and complete assignments, and have good reading and writing skills are likely to feel that online courses are similarly challenging to on-campus classes.

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<empty> Are online courses the same quality as on-campus courses?
 

Yes. The exact same content is taught in online as in a traditional course that meets on campus.

All online and hybrid courses are developed by LAVC faculty.

These courses are reviewed by the department chair and an instructional designer.

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<empty>

Do I have to be online at a certain time to take my class?

 

For course components that are online, you do not normally have to be online at a certain time. Instead, you can study when it is convenient for you, as long as you complete and submit required assignments and tests by due dates indicated in the syllabus.

Some instructors may require small group or other discussions to take place at a schedules time, which is often negotiable. Contact your instructor for any specific time requirements.

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Getting Started

<empty> What is ETUDES?
  ETUDES stands for “Easy-To-Use Distance Education Software” and is the program LAVC uses to teach its online classes. ETUDES is a “course management system” (or CMS), which is a computer program, available over the Internet, that is used to facilitate an online class.

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<empty> How do I enroll in an online course?
 

Enrolling in an online class is the same as enrolling in a regular class. Check the Online Schedule of Classes to see what is being offered. You can enroll in one of the following ways. 

  • Go to the Valley College web page: www.lavc.edu
  • Visit the Admissions Office on campus to register in person
  • Enroll by phone at (818) 988-2222

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<empty> How do I log in to my online class?
  To login to all your online classes, you just need to go to one portal link, login with your ETUDES username and password, and all your ETUDES online classes will be there.

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<empty> What do I do if I can’t log in?
  Make sure you are using correct username and password:

See tutorial lesson: Logging into Your Online Class 

Contact LAVC help desk by email, phone, or drop-in lab location: Help Desk Info

Contact your instructor

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<empty> How Do I Contact My Instructor?
  To find your instructor for your online class follow these steps:
  • Go to the Virtual Valley Home Page;
  • Click on the link to the "Online Class Schedule";
  • Click on the semester of your class, for example, Fall 2008;
  • Find you class on the list;
  • Click on the link to your instructor's name or call the phone number listed for him or her.

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<empty> Should I contact my instructor before class starts?
  It is a good idea to contact your instructor before the start of class to find out if there are any specific requirements you need to know about before you begin.

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<empty> Where do I go for help with my online class?
 

For help with any ETUDES problem or question, contact the ETUDES Help Desk by email, phone, or drop-in lab hours. This should ALWAYS be your first option.

For self-help, visit the following Self-Paced Online Tutorials

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<empty> How Do I Send an Attchment?
 

For a lesson on how to send email attachments, see the following tutorial:

For a lesson on how to send an attachment within ETUDES, see the following tutorial:

   

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Hardware and Software

<empty> Do I need my own computer to take an online or hybrid course?
 

If you are taking an online class or a hybrid, you don’t need to go out and buy a computer. HOWEVER you do need frequent access to a reliable computer.

LAVC does have a computer lab in BJ 103. For lab hours see the following link: Help Desk/Computer Lab Information.

For more information about the lab, contact Ken Freeman at (818) 947-2568.

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<empty> Do I need to buy a special computer program to take an online class?
 

No. LAVC offers its online classes through the ETUDES-NG course management system, which is available over the Internet. All you need is a good computer with a reliable Internet connection.

However, some instructors may require purchase of special programs, such as Microsoft Word, or other discipline-specific software. Check with your instructor prior to the beginning of the class for any additional software requirements.

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Do I need an Email account?
  Yes, you need an active email account. Those are available for free from Gmail, Yahoo, etc.
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<empty> What computer equipment do I need to take an online class?
 

Regular access to a good computer

Reliable Internet access. While dial-up modems will work, they are very slow, so cable or digital Internet connections are recommended.

Note: If AOL is your Internet service, you will not be able to use your AOL browser, but will need to download another browser.

A good word processing program, such as Microsoft Word (some professors require this program).

Check with your instructor to see if there are any additional equipment requirements prior to taking class.

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<empty> What is the difference between a PC and a Mac?
 

"PC" stands for "personal computer," and is a generic term for any computer. Generally PC's run on a Microsoft "Windows" operating system, like an IBM, Dell, or HP.

"Mac" is short for "Macintosh," which is a brand name for an "Apple" computer.

A Mac has a little apple somewhere on the machine, a PC does not.

Either system will work for your online classes and your educational needs in general. However, the two types of computers do run ETUDES a little differently, so when viewing tutorials or other instructions, be sure to see if there are different sets of directions for a "PC" and a "Mac," and follow the proper set.

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<empty> If I want to purchase a new computer, should I buy a PC or a Mac?
 

The short answer is that either type of computer will work for online classes in particular and your educational needs in general. However, here are some considerations to help you decide which type of computer is right for you:

  • How much do you want to spend? (PC’s are generally cheaper)
  • How important is style? (Mac’s are considered more stylish and “hipper.”)
  • Are you a Power User? (PC’s allow more access to the “guts” of the machine. The user can make more extensive changes to the way the machine works. For this reason “power users” generally prefer PC’s. Mac’s are considered more user-friendly and more intuitive or easier to operate for the novice.)
  • How important is media use (music, movies, photos) to you? (Mac’s are generally more media ready – Ipods connect directly to the computer for easy downloading, and Mac’s come loaded with music, movie, and photo software that connects to Apple Internet resources. PC’s can handle this media too, but may be a little more complicated, or purchase of additional software may be required for some functions.)
  • Do you intend to do a lot of gaming? (PC’s are more game-player friendly, while Mac systems do not have as many games available.)
  • Do you intend to do a lot of visual graphic design or just basic word processing, email, and Internet use? (Mac’s are better for graphic design. PC’s are fine for basic functions and cost less than comparable Mac’s.)
  • Do you intend to edit movies or music on your computer? (Mac’s are better for movies or music editing.)
  • How important is interactivity with other systems to you? (PC’s generally interact better with other machines. They play nicely with others. More people own PC’s than Mac’s, and it is easier to share files with users who have the same system as yours.)

Whichever system you decide to buy, check for student discounts at the LAVC bookstore or other vendors.

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