​original post is in dark gray font
[will need better formatting; the "Instructions of accessing Vista" looks a little cluttered right now]

What to Expect When Taking MLIS Online Courses

Online courses are not easier or less time-consuming than face-to-face (F2F) courses; they are just different. Online courses are geared for the mature, self-motivated learner. They are designed as active and collaborative (including peer-to-peer) learning environments. The instructor will provide his or her expertise through lectures, readings, activities, and discussions with students, serving as a facilitator, and encouraging students to explore and interact with fellow learners to reach new levels of understanding and knowledge.

The MLIS online courses at Kent State are offered as asynchronous (any time), web-based instruction. Although asynchronous courses allow for flexibility in how students schedule their class work, online classroom participation is expected on a regular basis and is often required to be completed on a pre-determined time. Some instructors may even schedule optional synchronous (real time) meetings to aid students.

Students enrolled in online courses are expected to log into their course at the beginning of each week to receive instructions about what learning activities to complete. They are expected to complete activities and participate in online discussions by the dates the instructor has established in the syllabus and weekly objectives. [weekly objectives? can we use a different term?] {​can we use the term weekly learning module?} Students may be expected to log in several times during the week in order to read and respond to others in discussion. [Log in to the class site regularly is important for peer interactive learning]

Traits of the successful online learner

o Self-motivated
Able to schedule own activities and effectively manage time
o Able to follow written and spoken instructions

o Deep learner as opposed to a surface or strategic learner
  • Deep learning "involves the critical analysis of new ideas, linking them to already known concepts and principles, and leads to understanding and long-term retention of concepts so that they can be used for problem solving in unfamiliar contexts. Deep learning promotes understanding and application for life. In contrast, surface learning is the tacit acceptance of information and memorization as isolated and unlinked facts. It leads to superficial retention of material for examinations and does not promote understanding or long-term retention of knowledge and information. " http://www.engsc.ac.uk/er/theory/learning.asp
o Able to communicate effectively in writing
  • Students should expect a significant writing component to be an essential part of all online courses, as many activities that would involve oral communication in a face-to-face environment, such as discussions and small group exercises, require students to communicate through message boards, blogs, and wikispaces.
  • Students should seek help from instructors early enough when having questions. Students are expected to explain in detail what the question is and what they have tried to answer the question or solve the problem.
o Able to start work in a timely manner in case questions or technical problems arise. Even though many online courses are offered as asynchronous courses, your instructor may not be available 24/7 to answer questions. [this is wordy and may need some refining]
o Have a good understanding of net etiquette. For a list of netiquette rules, see http://www.swref.com/story/20090705/the_rules_of_netiquette .
o Appreciative and respectful of the talents, intelligence, and opinions of peers and co-learners
  • Collaboration is an essential part of learning in an online environment. [Need to expand this a bit]
o Willingness to try new ideas or technologies
o Not easily frustrated by technology and willing to troubleshoot, as your instructor is not the technical support for your computer (too harsh!? or maybe a better way to say it) The University provides technical assistance for technological problems and SLIS directs students to contact the Help Desk [contact information here] when they have difficulties with basic computer functions and problems with the Vista operating system. [Dan - maybe to say something about being a problem solver and knowing when and where to seek appropriate assistance. I think every online course should have a community trouble shooting discussion board which can serve as a knowledge base]
o Adaptable to new situations, teaching techniques, and learning experiences

Basic Technological Proficiencies Expected of Online Learners [what is the overlap with 60003?]:

  • A working knowledge of the World Wide Web and its functions, including the use of a web browser, site navigation, and search
  • Familiarity with e-mail functions, including the ability to send and receive file attachments and the use of e-mail lists
  • Familiarity with various asynchronous communication tools (ex. blogs, threaded discussion boards/forums)
  • Familiarity with interactive electronic discussion systems (ex. MSN Messenger, g-mail chat, etc)
  • Experience using streaming media players (ex. Windows Media Player or QuickTime)
  • Familiarity with basic word processing: creating, editing, saving a document. Should have access and some knowledge of Microsoft Word (doc) and Adobe (pdf).
  • Ability to Install and uninstall software programs
  • Understanding of the concept and basic functions of an operating system
  • Ability to save work to various file formats, find files, create directories, run/execute programs
  • Ability to upload and download software and files
  • Understanding of how to extract and create compressed (zip) file
  • Ability to create and upload audio and video files

Students who are not confident in their technological preparation are strongly encouraged to take required core class LIS 60003, Information Technology for LIS Professionals, in the first semester of their MLIS program.

Technology Requirements

Because of the multimedia content available in the courses, it is strongly suggested that you have access to a broadband (high speed) Internet connection. Lack of technology is not a excuse for not completing work in a timely manner. [Word this more sensitively]. [Use kent.edu email address only]


Students should own or have access to a computer with a broadband Internet connection and sufficient processing power to view streamed audiovisual content (course content such as lectures may be delivered in the form of audio or video clips).
Some courses will require to download software for use for class activities; not using a computer you own may limit your ability to take some online courses. Students should also consider equipping their computer with a microphone and/or camera as some courses may require students to record audio and/or video as part of virtual presentations (instructors will indicate this requirement on syllabi where applicable).

Operating System:

SLIS does not require a particular operating system and strives to make all course content accessible no matter what OS is used. Please note, however, that the Vista course management system used by many faculty to deliver courses does present some minor incompatibility issues for Mac users (see course management section below).
[Also, please note that some software may only be supported by certain operating systems, so students need to refer to course-specific requirements before taking a class.]


Students should have the following software installed on their computer: a web browser with plug-ins that allow display of PDFs and Windows Media/Flash video; personal productivity software, including word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, and database programs; and, the VPN client program provided by Kent State (available for download here: http://www.library.kent.edu/page/10231 ), which will allow students to have remote access to library resources such as research databases. Other software required for certain courses will be specified by instructors prior to the first week of the term; tutorials will be suggested where needed. Some software may be provided by SLIS in a virtual machine environment, which will allow programs to be accessed without students having to install them locally on their home machine.

Vista (Course Management System):

SLIS uses Vista (a CMS developed by Blackboard) to deliver many online courses. Through Vista, students can access readings, online resources, lectures, presentation slides, assignments, examinations, message boards, and other course materials. Some instructors may choose to use another tool, such as wiki, either as a supplement to or as an alternative to Vista (see below for an introduction to the SLIS wikispace).

EXPECT AN EMAIL FROM YOUR PROFESSOR IN YOUR kent.edu EMAIL APPROXIMATELY ONE WEEK BEFORE CLASS BEGINS, giving you additional information about how to access course materials and what activities should be accomplished prior to the first week of classes.

While all content (lectures, assignments, discussions, exams) will be available to everyone no matter what OS/browser combination is used, the chat function of Vista does not work in Mac browsers (Safari and Firefox). For any activities involving synchronous communication (such as virtual office hours) the instructor will suggest alternatives, such as Skype or web conferencing software.

Instructions for Accessing Vista

Vista can be accessed directly by going to: https://vista8.kent.edu (log in with your FlashLine name and password, which you should receive from the university after you accept the offer of admission from SLIS). This page also gives you access to a “Check Browser” button that will help to configure your computer for using the BB Vista learning system.

You can also log into Vista via the KSU student information system, FlashLine, found at http://flashline.kent.edu . Click on "My Courses," then, "Vista Single Sign On." This will take you to a link for all your online courses.

BB Vista Help Documents: If you have not used Vista yet, please go to the Vista website to learn more: http://www.et.kent.edu/elearning/bbVista/?page_id=880 and http://www.et.kent.edu/elearning/bbVista/?page_id=1577

If you have difficulty setting up your PC or accessing Vista, or do not know your Flashline username and password, please contact the Kent State Help Desk at http://www.kent.edu/is/helpdesk/index.cfm (330-672-HELP (4357)) for assistance.

UNDERSTAND HOW TO ACCESS THE OHIOLINK ELECTRONIC JOURNAL CENTER. From the Kent State University Libraries and Media Services web site (http://www.library.kent.edu/page/10000 ), click on Articles in journals, then on OhioLINK Electronic Journal Center. The EJC can also be accessed directly through the following link: http://journals.ohiolink.edu/ejc/ . Adobe Acrobat reader is required to view the articles. You should also be logged into the KSU VPN (see above) to access full-text of articles.

Plug-Ins Needed to View Audiovisual Content:

Lecture presentations and interactives can be viewed with a Flash player. To download a free flash player: http://www.adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash

VIDEO PLAYER: Video will streamed as wmv files and may be viewed with Windows Media player. To download a free wmv player: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/10/default.aspx

Course Wikis

SLIS has established a wikispace, which is used by a number of instructors in the MLIS program for class support. Wikis are used for many class activities, particularly those which involve a significant collaborative component (such as group projects). The SLIS wikispace can be accessed here: http://www.iwiki.kent.edu/ . Instructors that use the wikispace will provide further information about how to access a course wiki (including providing login information) prior to the beginning of the term.

Communication with the Instructor