Online Courses at CSI

Frequently Asked Questions about Online Classes

How do I attend class?

Online classes offered at CSI do not meet in a conventional classroom. Instead, instructors and students "meet" through Blackboard, CSI's online course management system and “virtual meeting place.” Students use this system to access the syllabus, course information, announcements, assignments, discussion forums, chat, e-mail, grades, as well as to upload their assignments. Students can access Blackboard online at http://blackboard.csi.edu.

How much reading and writing is involved in online courses?

Most online courses require extensive reading and writing. You will be required to read your textbooks as well as any material posted online by your instructor. Online courses also require a lot of writing. If you do not like to write, you may find online courses challenging. In face-to-face courses you can ask your questions and you can discuss issues orally. In online classes almost everything happens in writing. So you need to be comfortable with typing and writing.

Are online courses easier than traditional face-to-face courses?

NO! Unfortunately this is a very common misconception among students. If the reason you want to sign up for an online course is because you think that it will involve less work than a traditional face-to-face course, you will be in for a very big surprise. Online courses involve a lot of work and many students find online courses more challenging than traditional courses. The students who do succeed in online courses are very self-motivated, they have good time-management skills, are not procratisnators, and love to read and write.

How do I participate in an online class?

Students learn best when they are actively involved in class discussions. Most online courses at CSI take advantage of asynchronous online interaction and collaboration utilizing online threaded discussion forums. The purpose of class participation is to ensure that students keep up with the course material (reading), as well as to provide an opportunity for students to express their thoughts and share their insights.

In most CSI online classes, students are expected to actively participate in the online dialogue that evolves in the discussion forums. Students will be invited to comment on questions and topics in various discussion boards, using threads (discussion topics) instructors post periodically (e.g. daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.). Whenever possible, students need to post these submissions early so that their classmates have a chance to respond to one another, as well as initiate and continue lively discussions.

In most CSI online classes, instructors require students to make meaningful contributions to the discussion forums. Messages such as “I completely agree” do not constitute meaningful contributions. In order to earn full credit for participation, students are expected to contribute substantial and thoughtful remarks to discussions.

Students are expected to be positive in their approaches and to words ideas carefully. Students and instructors cannot see each other, so it's difficult to tell when posts are intended to be humorous or ironic. Avoid sarcasm and critical remarks.

Do online classes follow a schedule or syllabus? Can I submit assignments when it is convenient for me?

Most CSI online classes require that students follow a syllabus with due dates. In other words, online classes are not "independent study" courses that permit submitting assignments at students' convenience. Instead, students registered for online classes must submit their assignments by the due dates specified in the class syllabus. As in courses conducted in classrooms, most instructors penalize students for submitting late work. See the Course Description for the specific class you are taking for details.

What other general guidelines can I expect?

  • Students must follow the same kinds of guidelines for appropriate language and behavior found in the classroom. That is, students must treat each other and the instructor with respect during the course.
  • Language that others may find offensive, abusive, or harassing is not tolerated. This policy applies to all forms of communication, including e-mail, chat and asynchronous discussion forums. Breaching this policy may result in being dropped from a course.
  • Students must read and follow CSI’s Acceptable Use of Computing Resources Policy.
  • Students are expected to use correct spelling and proper grammar in all their written work, including discussion forums and homework assignments.
  • Students must adhere to the provisions of state and federal copyright laws and regulations. The College of Southern Idaho strictly prohibits the illegal use, reproduction, distribution, public display, or performance of copyrighted materials in any form. General copyright guidelines are on file in the CSI library and are also available here.
  • Students must demonstrate proficiency in the use of the English language in all work submitted for online courses. Grammatical errors, spelling errors, and writing that does not express ideas clearly will affect students’ grades.
  • Each student is responsible for maintaining academic integrity and intellectual honesty in his or her academic work, which means that each student must:
    • Submit his or her own work, not that of another person
    • Not engage in cheating
    • Not receive nor give aid on assigned work that requires independent effort (students can discuss assignments but writing and specific recommendations must be done independently).
    • Properly credit the words or ideas of others according to accepted standards.
    • Not use term paper writing services or consult such services for the purpose of obtaining assistance in the preparation of materials to be submitted in courses
    • Not engage in plagiarism. Webster’s defines plagiarism as "stealing or passing off ideas or words of another as one’s own" and "the use of a created production without crediting the source."

What kinds of computer skills do I need to have?

Students taking online courses will need to have a minimum set of technology skills, including:

  • Starting programs
  • Viewing and managing files (copying, moving, renaming, etc.)
  • Using Web browsers
    • Find a page, given a URL
    • Navigate through a Web site
    • Use a search engine
    • Download and install a program (for example, Adobe Acrobat)
  • Using Email
    • Send and receive e-mail messages
    • Send files as attachments; retrieve attachments
  • Microsoft Office
    • Ideally, students will use a current version of Microsoft Word to complete writing assignments. Students should be able to accomplish the following functions in Word:
      • Produce tab-indented double-spaced paragraphs
      • Format a running header
      • Format hanging indented paragraphs
  • Other word processors
    • If students choose to use a word processor other than Word (for instance, WordPerfect or Microsoft Works), they should know how to convert a file to Rich Text Format.
  • Other applications:
    • Instructors in various online courses may have additional minimum requirements. Contact the instructor of the course for more information.

What kind of Internet connection do I need?

Students taking online courses will need to have continual access to the Internet with the following minimum parameters:

  • A high speed Internet connection is recommended (e.g. Cable Internet, DSL, etc.).
  • A reliable e-mail account.
    • Students should expect to check e-mail daily for most online classes.
    • Starting with the Spring 2007 semester, e-mail will become the primary means of written communication with all CSI students. All students automatically get a CSI e-mail account when they register for courses. Student e-mail addresses have the following format: username@students.csi.edu. Students will be expected to check their CSI e-mail accounts regularly as they will be receiving official communications via e-mail from their instructors as well as from various offices such as Records and Admissions, Business Office, Advising, Financial Aid, etc. It will be the students’ responsibility to check their CSI e-mail accounts regularly. Failing to do so will result in missing important messages and deadlines. For more information on access to your CSI e-mail account, see What is my CSI username and password? How do I log into Blackboard or my CSI e-mail account? on this page..
    • Students are also required to leave their CSI e-mail addresses in Blackboard, and not change them to their personal e-mail addresses. Besides the obvious advantages of using the CSI e-mail, not giving out personal e-mail addresses is preferred due to privacy reasons.
    • For complete information on CSI e-mail accounts, browse to CSI Student Web e-Mail.

What kinds of hardware and software do I need to have access to?

Recommended Minimum Hardware Requirements:

  • Windows 7 compatible PC:
    • Intel i5 or i7 CPU
    • 64-bit Windows 7 operating system
    • 4GB RAM min, 8GB RAM recommended
    • High-speed Internet connection

Minimum Software Requirements:

  • Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are recommended for Blackboard access. Internet Explorer 8 or higher is compatible, but may have limitation is some instances.
  • Microsoft Office 2010 or later is recommended.
    • Some instructors may allow alternative office software to be used with the Rich Text Format (.rtf) filetype.

What is my CSI username? How do I log into Blackboard or my CSI student e-mail account?

Access Blackboard by pointing a web browser to http://blackboard.csi.edu. Access your student e-mail account by pointing a web browser to http://eaglemail.csi.edu.

When you are prompted for a username and password, follow the username and password scheme explained on the EagleOne web page.

I need help with Blackboard. What do I do if I need technical support?

Students who need help accessing information on the course pages should contact their instructor via e-mail or phone as soon as possible. Students should not wait until assignments are due before letting instructors know about technical difficulties. Remember that in most online Blackboard classes access is available to a full online Blackboard manual (usually under Tools). Consult the manual first. Students who cannot find the answer to questions in the manual should then e-mail their instructor. Instructors cannot offer hardware and software troubleshooting services on students' home computers.

Can I access the CSI library online?

The CSI library offers access to many online journals and indexes, including EBSCO and InfoTrac. To access information through the CSI library, browse to http://www.csi.edu/library. For additional help, please contact reference librarian Steve Poppino at spoppino@csi.edu or call him at 1-800-680-0274 (Idaho & Nevada) or (208) 732-6504.

I have a disability. Can I expect the same accomodations as I would get in a classroom course?

The College of Southern Idaho promotes an accessible, non-discriminatory learning, teaching and working environment. In accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended in 1992 and with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, Student Disability Services is proactive in developing specialized accommodations to support the abilities of each individual eligible for such services. Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have documented disabilities. Please notify the instructor during the first week of classes regarding any accommodations. Late notification may result in the accommodations being unavailable. For more information please visit the CSI Student Disability Services page: www.csi.edu/Disabilities .

I've already signed up for an online class. What do I do now?

The week before classes begin in a given semester, send an e-mail to the instructor of the course to let him or her know that you have enrolled in the class. Use the e-mail account you will use during the semester to receive communications from the instructor. Be sure to specify the class name and section number you have enrolled in.. Also be sure to "sign" the e-mail with your full name. If your e-mail signature differs from the name you used to enroll in the class, mention that discrepancy to the instructor in the e-mail. Finally, be sure to specify your e-mail address. Find CSI instructor e-mail addresses and other contact information on the online CSI directory.


Vice President of Student Services/Planning and Grant Development Edit Szanto, Associate Professor of English Ken Bingham, and Associate Professor of English Whitney Smith contributed to this page.