Courses Student Guide


This comprehensive guide will explain what Courses is and what your instructors expect you to know, how you can best use Courses to enhance your learning, and where to get help when you get stuck or run into an obstacle.

Getting Started

Logging into Courses

Layout and Navigation

Organizing my course tabs

Technical Requirements

Courses Basics

What is Courses?

How do I find my class sites?

What should I know about the Tools?


Tips and Tech Support

Best Practices




Getting Started

Logging into Courses

To log into Courses, you have two easy options:

  1. Courses. Point your web browser to the direct web address,
    • Click "Pepperdine Login" at the top right.
    • Enter your Pepperdine NetworkID and password on the Central Authentication Service (CAS) page and click "LOGIN."
  2. WaveNet. Visit
    • Click "Home" in the left tool bar.
    • Click "Courses (powered by Sakai)."

wavenet student login


Trouble Logging In?

If you have any problems with your NetworkID, please visit the MyID password management service.

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Layout and Navigation

The Top Header

courses banner items

  1. Favorites Bar:  Here are the classes you have marked as your favorites.  You can arrange them using the "Sites" Menu.
  2. "Sites" Menu (Waffle icon):  This is a curated list of your enrollments for published course sites.  You can "star" and "unstar" your favorite courses and organize them by dragging and dropping them in the "Organize Favorites" section.
  3. Account Menu:  This is where you can change your profile picture and bio, set how you receive emails, and change other preferences in Courses.

 The Side Tools Menu

Image of Left Tools Menu

On the left side of each Courses site you will find the "Tools" menu.

  • On your "Home" site, you can manage your settings, search for sites (or join joinable sites) in "Membership," and more.
  • In course sites, you'll find tools to submit Assignments, post messages in Forums, or take online assessments in Tests & Quizzes.
  • Other tools, like Messages, are for keeping in touch with colleagues and professors.
  • Some tools, like Resources or Lessons, are for accessing articles, web links, and course-related files.

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Organizing Your Course Tabs

Below the Courses logo, you will find your "Favorites Bar." You can add and reorder the sites that appear here through the "Sites" menu (Waffle icon) located in the top right of the Courses window.

Favorite Your Sites

  1. Click the "Sites" menu (aka Sites "Waffle") at the top right.
    Image of Sites Menu button
  2. To add a favorite, click the empty star icon next to the site's name to highlight it.
    • A site that has been selected as a favorite will display with a yellow highlighted star:
      Image of site selected as a favorite
  3. To remove a favorite (such as a class from a previous academic term), click the yellow star icon next to the site's name to deselect it.
    • A site that has been deselected will display with an empty star:
      Image of site deselected as a favorite
  4. Close the "Sites" menu by clicking the "X" at the top right.
  5. The "Reload to see your updated favorite sites" notice will appear. Click the "Reload" link to refresh the page and see your changes.
    Image of Reload message after reordering favorite sites

Reorder Your Favorite Sites

  1. Click the "Sites" menu (aka Sites "Waffle") at the top right.
    Image of Sites Menu button
  2. Click the "Organize Favorites" tab. Note: you must have at least two (2) favorites to reorder sites.
    Image of Organize Favorites tab in the Sites Menu
  3. Drag and drop your sites into the desired order. Click the right icon (three-line icon) to move a site up or down.
    Image of drag and drop site order
  4. Close the "Sites Menu" by clicking the "X" at the top right.
  5. The "Reload to see your updated favorite sites" notice will appear. Click the "Reload" link to refresh the page and see your changes.
    Image of Reload message after reordering favorite sites

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Technical Requirements

It is strongly recommended that you use a computer that is less than 4 years old, can access the internet, and compose documents.

  • Browsers: While compatible with multiple browsers, we recommend using Firefox or Chrome.
  • Operating Systems: Supported platforms include Microsoft Windows 7 or higher and Apple MacOS El Capitan (10.10) and higher.
  • Document Types: Most professors will expect you to submit documents in Microsoft Office format (Word .docx, Excel .xlsx, PowerPoint .pptx) or PDF. Always check with your professor to confirm the required file formats for assignments or projects.

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Courses Basics

What is Courses?

"Courses" is the name of Pepperdine University's primary Learning Management System (LMS).  Courses is powered by Sakai, which is an open source platform. It was created by education for education. This means that Pepperdine University is part of a global community of academic institutions contributing to a common goal: to make a powerful, flexible tool to enhance teaching and learning.

  • Courses creates a shared learning space for students and professors to engage in conversation about a range of topics.
  • Courses is made up of course sites, project sites, and personal sites.
  • Courses offers tools for assessment, communication, collaboration, and more.
  • Courses aligns with Pepperdine's mission of Purpose, Service, and Leadership, and as Pepperdine contributes to the global Sakai community, we embody our University motto: "Freely ye received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8).

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How Do I Find My Class Sites?

Before we begin, here are some key reminders:

  • Wait one business day. After registering for a class, please wait one business day for the enrollment to appear in Courses.
  • Check with your professor. You'll only see class sites if your professors have "published" them (i.e. turned them on).
  • Use the "Sites" menu at the top right to find and access your sites.

Search for a Site in the "Sites" Menu

  1. Click the "Sites" menu at the top right. Image of Sites Menu button
  2. In the "Filter Sites" search box, enter the name of your class (e.g. ENG 101.01, DESC 603.11, PSY 600.20, etc.). Image of Filter Sites search box in the Sites menu
  3. Click the name of the class in the results to access the site.
    • TIP: If this is a site you plan to access often, click the "star" icon to favorite the siteImage of Filter Sites results in Sites menu
    • Check WaveNet to verify that you are officially registered.
    • If you just registered today, wait until the next business day for the information to appear in Courses.
    • Check with your professor. If your professor hasn't published the site, you won't be able to see or access it.
    • Check to see if you have hidden the site. Use the Membership or Worksite Setup tool in your Home site to search again.

Use "Membership" to Find All Sites

The "Membership" tool allows users to see in which project and course sites they are enrolled.

  1. Click "Home" at the top left of the Favorites Bar (below the Courses logo).
  2. Click "Membership" in the left tool menu.Image of Membership tool in Home site menu
  3. In the "My Current Sites" tab, you will see all of your site enrollments.
  4. If you have many site enrollments, use the search box on the right. Enter the name of your class (e.g. ENG 101.01, DESC 603.11, PSY 600.20, etc.) and click "Search." Image of Search box in Membership tool
  5. Click the name of the desired class in the "Worksite" column to visit the site.

Join a Joinable Site with "Membership"

  1. Click "Home" at the top left of the Favorites Bar (below the Courses logo).
  2. Click "Membership" in the left tool menu.
  3. Click the "Joinable Sites" tab at the top of the page.
  4. After a moment, a listing of all sites marked as "joinable" will display.
  5. Review the sites. Under the desired site, click "Join."
    • You are added into the site.
    • You can find it through the "My Current Sites" tab in "Membership" or through the "Sites" menu at the top right.

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What Should I Know About the Tools?

You'll find the "Tools" menu on the left side of your course site. These are the tools that your instructor has chosen to enable for their teaching.  Not all instructors use the same tools so the menu may vary from course to course.  Here is a short guide of the four most common tools and their general functions:


Submit Coursework to Assignments

  1. Click "Assignments" in the left tool menu.
    assignments icon
  2. Review the list of open assignments and click the specific "Assignment Title" you wish to access.
    Image of Assignment Title link in Assignments tool
  3. Pay attention to several main areas:
    • ASSIGNMENT DETAILS: Assignment name, due date, number of submissions allowed, and status (opened or closed) of the assignment.  Pay special attention to the due date and the instructions.Image of Student View of an assignment's details
    • TEXT EDITOR: If this feature is enabled, you can write or copy/paste information into the rich text editor window. 
      • TIP: If you paste information from Microsoft Word, be sure to use the "Paste from Word" button.
        Image of Text Editor Paste From Word button
        Image of student view of assignments and the rich text editor
    • FILE ATTACHMENTS: If enabled, this is where you can upload file attachments. The button will either say "Choose File" or "Browse," depending on your web browser.Image of student view of assignment attachment section
    • HONOR PLEDGE: If enabled, read the pledge and mark your acceptance before submitting your final work. Image of student view of assignment honor pledge
  4. Complete the assignment based on the instructions.
  5. Click "Submit" when finished. Image of student view of assignments submit buttons
    • "Submit" - Finalize your submission so your professor can receive and assess your work. Be sure to submit your work before the deadline!
    • "Preview" - This will allow you to check your work before submission.
    • "Save Draft" - You can complete part of an assignment and save your progress. However, you must still "Submit" your work before the deadline to receive credit.
    • "Cancel" - To return to the main Assignments list.

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Use Drop Box to Send Documents to Your Professor

The Drop Box is a private file exchange between students and instructors. Instructors see all student drop boxes, but students only see their own.

  1. Click "Drop Box" in the left tool menu.
    dropbox icon
  2. Click "Actions" and then choose "Upload Files." Image of student view of Drop Box and Upload Files link
  3. Drag-and-drop files from your computer onto the gray box or click the grey box to choose a file from your computer.
    • NOTE: The maximum upload size is 250MB. This can be a single 250MB file or several smaller files that collectively cannot be over 250MB of total content. Image of Drop Box file upload screen
  4. Click "Continue" when finished.

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Post Discussion Responses in Forums

  1. Click "Forums" in the left tool menu.
    forums icon
  2. Click the topic title. Image of student view of Forums topic link
    • Click "Start a New Conversation." mage of student view of topic Start New Conversation button
    • Enter the "Title" of the conversation or thread. Image of student view of Forums topic link
    • Enter your post in the "Message" rich text editor.
    • (Optional)  Following the on-screen instructions, click "Add attachments" to add one or more file attachments.
    • Click "Post" when finished.
    • Click the conversation or thread title. Image of student view of topic conversation thread title
    • Click "Reply" below the person's name. Image of Reply button in a Forums topic conversation thread
    • Re-read the original prompt, response, or thread for understanding. Don't forget to read the main Forum or Topic description(s) for context and any discussion requirements from your professor.
    • Use the rich text editor to write and format your response. If you are planning a longer response, consider drafting your post in a word processor, like Microsoft Word, and returning to Courses when you are ready to post. If you choose to draft in Microsoft Word, be sure to use the "Paste from Word" button in the editor toolbar so that your content will display properly.
    • (Optional) Following the on-screen instructions, click "Add Attachments" to add one or more file attachments.
  5. Click "Post" when finished.

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Check Your Grades and Scores in Gradebook 

  1. Click "Gradebook" in the left tool menu.
    gradebook icon
  2. There are six areas you should be aware of:
    • (A) Course Grade - This is a "running total" of your grade. Some professors may wait until the end of the term to display this information, so you may see "Not yet available."
    • (B) Gradebook Item - This is the activity name, such as an assignment, discussion, quiz, etc.
    • (C) Grade - The score or percentage that you earned for the activity out of the total possible.
    • (D) Weight - If your professor is using weighting, you will see how much items in this category count toward your overall course grade.
    • (E) Due Date - The deadline for an activity, if entered by your professor. Always check your syllabus, or with your instructor, if a deadline is unclear.
    • (F) Comments - Notes or comments that your professor chose to enter about your performance on an activity. Image of student view of Gradebook

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Correspond with Instructors and Peers with Messages

The "Messages" tool allows you to communicate with your instructors or fellow students in class sites.

  1. Click "Messages" in the left tool menu.
  2. Click "Compose Message."
  3. Select your recipient(s) in the "To" drop-down menu. You may select individuals, roles, or groups.
  4. Verify that the "Send Cc" checkbox is selected to also send the message via email.
  5. (Optional) Select a "Label" for the message: Normal, Low, or High.
  6. Enter the "Subject" for the message.
  7. Enter the "Message" in the rich text editor. Refer to the "Paste from Word" steps if pasting from Microsoft Word.
  8. (Optional) Use "Add Attachments" to include files with the message.
  9. Click "Send" to finish.

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Take Assessments with Tests & Quizzes

Your instructor may administer quizzes, surveys, or tests through the "Tests & Quizzes" tool.


Before you begin your assessment...

  • READ ALL INSTRUCTIONS AND QUESTIONS CAREFULLY. We cannot stress this step enough. The most common reason why students do not perform well on assessments is because they skip or rush through instructions or questions.
  • Study and be prepared before you begin. The same preparation you put into a classroom-based exam is required for online assessments. Be sure to study and be ready for your exam before you begin.
  • Use a reliable internet connection and plug in your laptop. If possible, we recommend that you use a wired internet connection when taking an online assessment. Also, if you are a laptop user, be sure to use your AC power adapter. You may lose work if you lose your network connection or power during a quiz or test.
  • Use a supported web browser that is properly configured. Be sure to use a supported web browser. You must also allow cookies, JavaScript, and Java.
  • Close all other browser windows and tabs. For the best experience, we strongly recommend that you use a single browser window to take your assessment. Close all other windows and tabs to avoid difficulties or interference from other websites. Finally, do not open the Courses site in multiple tabs or you may lose work.
  • Disable third-party browser security add-ons or applications. To complete your online quiz or test, you need to submit the assessment online. Some browser toolbars, add-ons, or internet software may block pop-up messages or filter information you submit online. These tools could interfere with your assessment. We recommend that you temporarily disable any web filtering or pop-up blocking software while you take your quiz or test.
  • Log directly into Courses (powered by Sakai). For the best experience, we strongly recommend that you log into Courses directly at and click "Pepperdine Login." If connecting through WaveNet, the portal will send pop-up warnings every 20 minutes to keep the WaveNet session alive. These pop-up messages may impact your test or interfere with your concentration.

During your test or quiz...

  • Do not use your browser's back button. When navigating your online exam, only use the navigation buttons within the exam itself. Do not use the "back" or other buttons in your web browser since you may lose your work.
  • Be mindful of your time. During your online exam or quiz you should pay attention to the assessment deadline, any timer, and the main assessment timeout.
    • DEADLINE: Some assessments are configured to allow submission after the deadline, others are not. If you start an assessment at 2:45 PM and the professor set a hard deadline of 3:00 PM, then you only have 15 minutes to complete the assessment.
    • TIMER: On timed exams, the clock doesn't stop ticking. Once you start a timed assessment, you must finish within the time limit.
    • TIMEOUT: While the system timeout is two hours, an assessment timeout is one hour. To keep your login session active, you must click an exam button, such as "Save and Continue," "Table of Contents," or "Submit for Grading" to save your progress and keep your session alive.
  • Wait for each page to load completely. Wait for each page of the exam to load completely. If you start writing or selecting answers before the page finishes loading, you may lose some of your work.
  • Write short answer or essay questions in a word processor or text editor and then paste into Courses. As a best practice, we recommend that you compose and save your written work frequently in a word processor. This way you'll have a backup copy of any short answer or essay questions in case of a problem with your computer or your network connection.
  • You must click "Submit for Grading" to receive credit for your test or quiz.
  1. Click "Tests & Quizzes" in the left tool menu.
  2. Below "Take an Assessment," click the title of the test or quiz you wish to take.
  3. Review the details carefully.
    • Read any introduction your professor may have entered about the assessment.
    • Pay attention to the due date and whether the quiz, test, or survey has a timer. If a timed assessment, you must submit your test within the time limit or else it will be automatically submitted when the test time expires.
    • If your professor has enabled the "Honor Pledge," you must select the checkbox to accept that you will neither give nor receive any aid on the assessment. 
  4. Click "Begin Assessment" to start your test or quiz. 
  5. Answer each question, clicking "Save" or "Next" to move through the assessment.
    • If all questions appear on a single page, be sure to scroll down and click "Save" frequently to save your progress.
    • If your professor has enabled the feature, you can use the "Mark for Review" checkbox for your personal reminder to review the question before submission.
    • At the right, use the "Question Progress" sidebar to see the questions you've answered, not answered, or marked for review.
  6. Click "Submit for Grading" to finish.
  7. Read the "Assessment Submission Warning" and click "Submit for Grading" again to confirm.
  8. Review or print the final submission details page. Click "Continue" to return to the main "Tests & Quizzes" page.

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Tips and Support

Best Practices

With the help of modern technology, maintaining good standing as a student is easier.  Self-motivation is key. You should have a natural drive to stay on top of your commitments, do your best work, and be ready for daily challenges.  In an academic context, this translates to a focus on keeping track of assignments, setting (and keeping) regular hours for study and reflection, actively participating in your class sessions, and avoiding procrastination on projects or homework.

You do not have to own the fastest computer, the biggest tablet, or the newest smartphone.  You do not even have to be tech-savvy.  Anyone can use Courses as an organizational tool to improve their academic career.

student guide computer image

Four Best Practices

  1. Read your professor's course outline in the Syllabus tool! There may be some crucial course information you've overlooked.
  2. Check the Calendar tool! Something important might be around the bend.
  3. Visit the Assignments tool! Maybe you have something due.
  4. Review the Tests & Quizzes tool! Maybe you should be studying for an upcoming assessment.

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Don't Lose Any Work! Draft Long Responses in Microsoft Word

In Courses, you'll find a rich text editor to compose and format messages, posts, and assignments to submit to instructors or share with your peers. For high-stakes activities or responses that take more than a few minutes, we recommend that you draft longer responses or posts in a word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. This way, you can save your work regularly and then paste your final version into Courses when you are ready.

Paste from Microsoft Word

If you draft your content in Microsoft Word, be sure to use the "Paste From Word" button in the rich text editor. Microsoft Word uses a lot of special coding to format content. This coding doesn't translate well on the web. The "Paste from Word" tool will strip away the unnecessary code and preserve the basic formatting you want.

  1. Copy the content from Microsoft Word.
  2. Go to your class site on Courses and open the specific activity, such as an assignment, forum, quiz, etc.
  3. Click the "Paste from Word" button in the rich text editor. Image of the Paste from Word button in the rich text editor
  4. Click the box in the "Paste from Word" window.
  5. Paste your content (Control-V or Command-V).
  6. Click "OK." 

Paste as Plain Text

If unusual formatting or code is appearing when you paste from a website or application, use the "Paste as Plain Text" tool to remove all formatting when you paste into the rich text editor. This way, you can add the formatting you want through the editor.

  1. Copy the content from your source (website, application, etc.).
  2. Go to your class site on Courses and open the specific activity, such as an assignment, forum, quiz, etc.
  3. Click the "Paste as Plain Text" button in the rich text editor. Image of Paste as Plain Text button in rich text editor
  4. Click the box in the "Paste as Plain Text" window.
  5. Paste your content (Control-V or Command-V).
  6. Click "OK."


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Frequently Asked Questions

Why don't I see my class listed in Courses?

The most common reasons that you may not see a class site:

  1. Your Professor Hasn't Published the Site. Use of the learning management system is at the discretion of each instructor. This means that if your professor doesn't plan to use Courses, then you will not see that site in your "Sites" menu. Be sure to check with your professor to see if he/she plans to use the platform.
  2. Newly Registered? Please Wait a Day. Class enrollment information is updated each business day. If you just registered for a class, you should see the site appear by the next business day. As stated above, whether or not you see a site will depend on whether your professor has published the site.
  3. Search Your "Sites" Menu. Your "Sites" menu at the top right will list your active enrollments by the academic term. Use the "filter sites" to search for your class. Learn more about searching for class sites.

Why won't Courses let me log in?

The most common reasons you cannot access Courses:

  1. Expired, Forgotten, or Incorrect Password. If you typed in the wrong password or the wrong NetworkID, your login will fail. Check your spelling and see whether the CAPS LOCK key is on. If you recently changed your password, it's possible your password manager or web browser have the old version saved. Re-enter your NetworkID and your password carefully. If necessary, reset your password using the MyID password management service.
  2. Recently Reset Your Password? Did You Update Your Mobile Devices? If you recently reset your Pepperdine password, one of your mobile devices may have the old password stored (to check email, for example).  If that happens, your phone or tablet may be "locking" your Pepperdine NetworkID account. To protect you, our systems will temporarily lock an account after too many attempts with the wrong password. Check your mobile devices and update the password in each. The temporary lock lasts for one hour, or you can call the IT Service Desk at (310) 506-4357 to see if your account can be unlocked faster.

See also "Logging into Courses."

Why can't I submit my assignment or test?

The most common reasons that you cannot submit an assignment or test:

  1. Past the Deadline. If the due date for an assignment, forum, or assessment has passed, you will not be able to submit. Check the activity details and dates, and make sure that you haven't missed the deadline or "accept until" date.
  2. Maximum Attempts Exceeded. Some activities will allow re-submission, and others will not. It depends on how your instructor has configured the activity. Check the activity details and the number of attempts allowed and the number of attempts remaining.

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