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Department of Sociology
Fort Hays State University
600 Park Street
Rarick Hall 349
Phone: 785-628-5840
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Online Learning

How do I do this online learning stuff?

Is distance learning right for you?

Welcome to the Department of Sociology! Since you are here, it is safe to assume that you might be interested in pursuing your sociology degree online. If you are still unsure about this whole web-based learning experience, here is a link to FHSU's Virtual College that will provide you with an overview of distance learning: How to get started.

The Basics

Courses taught through the Virtual College by sociology department faculty members employ Blackboard technology. So, as one of our students, you must know how to logon onto and navigate around in Blackboard (see below). In addition, students must have an active email account (see below), and have the materials for the course before the semester begins (see below, too!).

Our faculty work very hard to provide as much information as possible in their syllabi to help you feel comfortable about your distance learning experience and to get through the course in the time allowed. Generic syllabi (with emphasis on GENERIC - i.e., not intended for actual use during a specific semester) are also presented. Feel free to check out the generic syllabi, but be sure to read the semester-specific syllabus for your class once the semester begins. Depending upon your professor, your semester-specific syllabus might be provided in .pdf format in a link on the relevant Blackboard site, within the web pages of the site itself, and/or in an email sent to you. We have tried telepathy with limited success. However, most of the semester-specific syllabi will not be ready until just before the semester begins - just like in an on-campus class! So, read those syllabi when you have access to them!

Generally, students who have enrolled and paid their fees will have access to their online course a few days prior to the beginning of the semester or term. Late enrollments might have access a day after the semester beginning. (Enrolling after the semester has ended makes no sense, so don't even try.) It is often the case that your professor has limited control as to when late enrollments are added to his or her Blackboard site. It generally takes 24 hours between the time the registrar's office enrolls a student in a course and the time that the student's name is available for the professor to add the student to his or her site.

Some instructors send out welcome letters, while others provide a welcome announcement in the Blackboard site for the course. (Still others are grouchy and might not welcome you.) Students are expected to be ready to begin the course on the first day of the semester. Students are expected to review the syllabus for their particular course (as soon as it is available) and follow the instructions therein.

Distance learning students often do not realize the organizational challenges involved in making a distance learning course a success - for both the student and the professor. One of several keys to success is following the course schedule for the completion of tasks. Each student has the obligation to follow the schedule in the current course syllabus. If you do not follow the timeline identified in the course syllabus (or adjusted by an announcement by the course instructor), please expect a penalty. Hey, don't say we did not warn you!

So, what the heck is Blackboard?

Blackboard is simply a means for faculty to organize their classes on the Web. To logon to Blackboard, point your browser to on the Web (notice the address does not contain www). You can also simply click on the link on FHSU's main Web page: (and look for "Blackboard" in the upper right).

Once you are at the FHSU Blackboard site, hit the Login button and then type in your TigerTracks Username and Password. Your username is most likely your first initial, middle initial, and last name (e.g., mswalker) -- if this doesn't work, try first initial underscore and last name (e.g., m_walker). If that doesn't work, try your first initial and last name (e.g., mwalker). If that doesn't work, give up. It just isn't in the cards for you. Sorry. Some things just don't work out. But... if you really want to continues, call the help desk (785-628-3478). Your temporary password is most likely the last four digits of your social security number.

After login, click on the relevant course title (in the upper right hand corner), and you are in your course!

Trouble with login? If you cannot login right away - don't panic! If the semester has yet to begin, you might have not been added to the course site yet. If you added the course after the semester has begun, then it usually takes 24-hours before you added to the site. However, if you are sure that you should be on the site, contact your instructor to let him or her know via email: sociology faculty. And, again, call the help desk.

Have you recently changed your name? If you have changed your name (e.g., recently married, divorced, or running from the law) and your new name is different from that listed in the registrar's office, it is important that you inform the registrar so your records can be updated. In addition, let your instructor know! Your instructor might not realize who you are if your name is not the same as on the official roster. So, if names do not match, a student may be deleted from the site inappropriately and accidentally! I have done this myself - so help us out, all of you newly married, newly unmarried, and/or fugitives.


Email? Email, schmemail!

Oh... not so fast bucko! Your instructors will likely do most of their corresponding with you via Email. Therefore, it is important that you have and use an Email account.

Every Fort Hays State University student (including Virtual College students) receive an Email account from the university. If you feel that you will be changing Email providers soon and/or often, or if your Email provider places limits on the amount of Email that you can receive, we advise you to use your FHSU Email account.

Please read!! Most often, Email will be sent to you from within the Blackboard system. This means that your FHSU Email account will receive those messages. Logical, eh? As such, it would be a good idea to use your FHSU Email account for school. If you are having trouble with your FHSU Email, please contact Tiger Tech.

Please read also!! If you are sending Email, please reference the course number (e.g., SOC 679) in the subject line of the Email, and put your full name somewhere inside of the message. We cannot respond to you if we do not know who you are. Strange, we know. We have enlisted internet fairies to help match Emails and students -- but you know how lazy fairies are! It is really more bother than it is worth. Stupid, lazy fairies! For having magical powers you would think this would be so easy. But noooooo.... So, help us out by placing your name and the appropriate course number(s) in your Email messages!


Materials? Materials? We don't need no stinking materials!

Well... yes you do. Before the semester begins, please contact the FHSU bookstore for your materials (which could be books, CDs, packets o' materials, sandwiches, etc... - whatever is listed in the current semester syllabus for the course). Please call (800) 366-8510 or logon to and click on the Books link and then follow the instructions.

One more thing!

Distance learning can be frustrating from time-to-time. Students often feel as though they are alone, floundering in a sea of course work without a life jacket. Please know that we are here to help! We have all completed naval safety and survival classes and have worked very hard to make each syllabus and website very user-friendly and easy to understand. The best advice we have is to read the course syllabus and Blackboard site thoroughly, and complete assignments on time. This will help every student keep their ships upright!

To our sociology academic programs.

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