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Tech Requirements and Tips

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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 can create documents.

  • Browsers: While compatible with multiple browsers, we recommend using Firefox or Chrome.
  • Operating Systems: Supported platforms include Microsoft Windows 10 or higher and Apple macOS Mojave (10.14) or 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.

Tips and Best Practices

With the help of modern technology, staying connected as a student can be easier but self-motivation is the key to success. 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.

Female student using her laptop computer at a cafe.

Five Best Practices

  1. Read your professor's course outline in the Syllabus tool. The syllabus is your class contract. Read it thoroughly to understand the course goals, required resources, class expectations, and grading schema. While commonly stored in the Syllabus tool, your professor may place your class syllabus in the Resources tool, Lessons tool, or a link on the Overview page or in the site menu. Your professor can clarify the location if needed.
  2. Monitor the Announcements and Calendar tools. Professors often post messages about upcoming sessions or deadlines. Don't get caught off guard! Keep an eye on your Pepperdine inbox but also review the Overview, Announcements, or Calendar tools in your class site.
  3. Explore the Lessons or Resources tools. You are likely to find important class content in either of these tools.  The Lessons tool offers structured or sequential learning paths, with text, images, videos, or links to content or activities. The Resources tool is often used as a central repository for class content, including readings, PowerPoints, and other media.
  4. Visit the Assignments tool. "Assignments" is a common tool for many classes. It's likely how you will submit your papers or reflections. You'll see the list of open activities and the due dates. Depending on how your professor has configured the assignment, you may type in a short response or upload a document or file.
  5. Review the Tests & Quizzes tool. If your professor utilizes this tool, you may have an upcoming assessment around the corner. When taking a test, only have one browser window or tab open. Be sure to read each question carefully and submit your assessment before any deadline or timer expires.

Want to learn more? Dive into additional best practices by referencing the Courses Tool Tips for Students.

Netiquette

Netiquette is the term for online etiquette or the standards for behavior for communication in an online meeting, discussion forum, email, or other virtual activity. Overall, you are expected to be professional and courteous in your interactions with your peers, instructors, and support staff. While you may not always agree with different points of view, you can always maintain respect for your colleagues through constructive discourse.

Please review and follow these rules of thumb:

  • Recognize and witness the other person. Start communications with a salutation. If responding to another, demonstrate understanding and compassion; show that you have heard the other person and honor their perspective or experience, even if you hold a different point of view. 
  • Identify yourself. Explain who you are, and if appropriate, the class that you are taking. Include a professional closing and signature line in messaging. 
  • Offer context. Include a relevant subject line or topic. Don't assume that someone knows your story or perspective; provide the necessary background or any cultural context to promote mutual understanding. Clarify any definitions of words or phrases, if necessary.
  • Use respectful language. If you wouldn't say something in person to someone, don't say it online. Don't abuse ALL CAPS, emphasis, or overdo punctuation (!!!). It should go without saying, but vulgarity and name-calling have no place in professional communication.
  • Less is more. Be concise; explain, but don't over-explain. State if any action is needed and make sure your primary point is clear.
  • Timely response vs. appropriate space. Show respect by responding promptly, at least to acknowledge receipt of a message. Be self-aware; you want to respond, not react. If a topic is heated or feels personal, "sleep on it" and give yourself enough space to re-read the original message for comprehension and to be fully objective in any response.
  • Honor the privacy of others. Don't share someone else's contact or private information without permission. Likewise, do not forward, copy/paste, or share the words or opinions of another person without permission. 
  • Safeguard your personal information. A common saying today is, "Nothing is private online." Be mindful of what you choose to post or share online, especially on fully public websites or services. Do not post personally identifiable information, such as contact information, that may put you at risk. Follow safe sharing practices to protect your personal security as well as your professional reputation.
  • Stay on topic or start a new discussion thread. Avoid veering discussions on a tangent or asking unrelated questions on an existing thread (aka don't "hijack" the discussion for separate purposes). Show respect to the original intent and open a new conversation about new topics.
  • Proofread and spell/grammar check. Respect your audience and represent yourself in the best light by taking the appropriate time to proofread your work. Leverage the built-in features of word processors and web browsers to review spelling and grammar.

Each school at Pepperdine University has its own Standards of Conduct. Be sure to refer to the conduct subject to disciplinary action.

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