Introduction to Online & Blended Learning
Welcome to the Introduction to Online and Blended Learning Module at
the University of Illinois at Chicago. The resources found here will help
those students new to online learning to understand what is needed to
succeed in an online or blended course.
Applying and Registering
New students interested in registering for a course for academic credit must first apply to the university through the UIC Office of Admissions. In some cases, students must apply to a degree program to be admitted into the course. The course prerequisites in the UIC Online course listing should provide this information. Additionally, students can refer to the UIC Schedule of Classes for a full campus listing of courses.
New and continuing students who want to register for an online course at UIC must do so through
through my.UIC. Students must first be admitted into the university before registering for a course.
Non-credit RegistrationNon-credit online courses and programs do not require formal application to the university. In most cases, students can register online either through External Education or directly with the department offering the program. Instructions for how to register for non-credit courses and programs can be found within the catalog listing on the UIC Online site.
Below are the minimum and recommended technical requirements for students participating in online and/or blended courses via Blackboard (the course management system used by UIC). These technical requirements apply to both PCs and Macs. We strongly advise that you talk to your instructor regarding course specific technical requirements.
- Windows 98, 2000 or XP (Windows 2000 or higher is recommended) OR Mac OS 9.0 or higher (Virtual PC needed)
- Java-compatible Web browser: Firefox 1.0, Mozilla 1.7, Netscape 6.0 (or higher) or Internet Explorer 6.0 (To check your browser configuration, please click here).
- 400 MHz processor (Pentium class for PCs)
- At least 64 MB of RAM (128 MB is recommended)
- 1 GB free hard-disk space
- 56.6K modem (cable or DSL is recommended)
- Sound card and speakers
- Monitor capable of 800x600 (1024x768 recommended)
- Word processing program like MS Word or Word Perfect
Paying for My Education
Credit Programs and Courses
Online programs are assessed UIC's e-Tuition, which is a single-rate, per credit hour tuition.
$777 per credit hour
$494 per credit hour
|Fall 2012 - Summer 2013||
$762 per credit hour
$484 per credit hour
Additional fees may be assessed depending on the program and courses in which the student is enrolled. Please check with the Program Coordinator listed on the Programs & Courses section of the UIC Online site for details.
Students admitted into an online program who take on-campus courses will be assessed the e-Tuition, regardless if that student takes only on-campus courses. Conversely, students admitted into a campus program that is not an online program will be assessed campus Range tuition regardless if they take any online courses, even if they are taking only online courses during a term.
Non-Credit Programs and Courses
Non-credit programs and courses at UIC are not assessed the e-Tuition. Individual program fees for UIC's non-credit online programs are listed in the program and course catalog. If you do not see your program listed, please contact the Program Coordinator listed on the Programs & Courses section of the UIC Online site for details.
Students enrolled in an online degree program may be eligible for financial aid. For degree-seeking students to be considered, a current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be on file. In addition, you must be enrolled at least part-time (registered for 6 credit hours; or 3 credit hours during summer term) and maintain satisfactory academic progress as defined by the UIC Financial Aid Office.
Students enrolled in certificate programs or taking courses as non-degree or non-credit are not eligible for federal financial aid.
For specific information, students should contact the Financial Aid Office directly.
UIC’s Academic Computing and Communication Center (ACCC) is available for technical support for all students via e-mail and phone. Local students can also request technical support in-person. Students should contact the Client Services Office (CSO) within ACCC for help.
- Call (312) 413-0003. Phone support is available Monday - Friday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., with the exception of Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
- E-mail email@example.com
- Visit any ACCC computer lab or the main ACCC office in room 2267 SEL (Science and Engineering Laboratories - East).
Advanced technical support is available through the CSO via the use of ACCC Online. ACCC Online is a tool that support specialists use to log onto your computer remotely in order to troubleshoot issues the student may be experiencing.
Custom or course-specific technical support may also be available depending on the course or program in which the student is enrolled. Students should refer to the course or program Web site or coordinator to determine the best way to receive technical support.
Online students who are enrolled in academic credit-bearing programs and courses have access to many of the UIC University Library's services. These services are all accessed from the Library Web site. Below are highlights of the services available to online students.
Where to Start
We recommend you start exploring the University Library by visiting the Library Reseach Guides. Research Guides are web based guides that provide streamlined access to discipline specific databases, books, articles, and more for study and research.
Currently registered students and faculty in physical proximity to the UIC campus are welcome to visit the Library to borrow books and use the resources housed within the Library. All borrowers checking out books in-person are required to show their iCard (University Identification Card). Because students enrolled in online programs are not issued iCards, students are encouraged to get an iCard before visiting the Library. Check the UIC Online FAQs for instructions for obtaining an iCard.
Students who cannot physically come to UIC’s campus can request that materials be shipped to a library in close proximity to where the student lives. Current students, faculty and staff can request materials from 65 other academic libraries in the state of Illinois, through I-Share, and from other libraries with which UIC has reciprocal borrowing agreements through interlibrary loan.
At the present time, UIC does not mail or ship books to alternative pickup sites other than the libraries that are part of the Interlibrary Loan program.
Ebrary is an online library of over 25,000 online full-text books across all disciplines. Ebrary software is required to read the online books. Once installed, one of the exciting features of ebrary InfoTools™ software is the ability to seamlessly link to additional information in your library and on the Web simply by highlighting any word or phrase of interest.
Electronic Journals, Newspapers and Magazines
Students and faculty have access to the electronic journals, newspapers and magazines that are found in the various databases and publications that the Library licenses.
Request an Article
InfoQUIC is the UIC Library’s fee-based photocopy service where items are pulled from the collection, photocopied, and delivered by fax, electronically, U.S. mail or campus mail. Materials delivered electronically are in PDF format. Requests can only be submitted using the InfoQUIC online form. More information regarding this service can be found on the University Library’s Circulation Department FAQ section.
Online Library Seminars
The UIC Library offers a series of Virtual Workshops. Past and present topics include:
- Keeping Current: Email and RSS Feeds;
- How Do I Know I Found Everything?
- Optimizing Searching with CINAHL;
- Managing Your References (REFWORKS with a health sciences focus, REFWORKS with social sciences/humanities focus, ENDNOTE, and Reference Manager.)
Dates and times for the workshops are listed on the Virtual Workshop Web page.
All workshops will be held in the ACCC e-room. You need to register for the Virtual Seminar(s) and also enroll in the class in the ACCC e-room. If you have not used an ACCC e-room yet, you will need to create an e-room account.
For questions about these workshops please contact the Library at Ask A Librarian.
Contact the Library
Students and faculty have multiple ways of contacting the University Library. Just visit the Ask A Librarian site for more information about how to reach the Librarians in any of the following ways:
The mission of the UIC Office of Career Services is to provide personalized services that assist UIC students and recent graduates in a process of self-assessment, career planning and preparation in order to facilitate lifetime career development and success.
Contact the Office of Career Services for more information by calling (312) 996-2300.
As reflected in the University of Illinois Nondiscrimination Statement and the UIC Chancellor's Statement of Commitment to Persons with Disabilities, UIC strives to maintain a barrier-free environment so that students with disabilities can fully access classes, programs, services and other campus activities.
Please call the Disability Resource Center at (312) 413-2183 or (312) 413-0123 (TTY) for information on interpreting, document conversion or testing services.
UIC’s Office of Veteran Affairs is committed to providing direct assistance to veterans in receiving educational benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. Staff is available to assist and provide services to veteran-students in the following areas:
- Processing applications for VA Educational Benefits
- Counseling on VA Educational Benefits
- Certification of Enrollment
- Monthly verification of enrollment
- VA Work-Study Program
- Other VA entitlements and benefits
- Veteran Student Association
UIC’s Office for the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, the Dean of Students office and the Development Services Office provide a comprehensive approach toward helping students succeed and facilitate student development and learning.
In general, students admitted to online courses and programs that award academic credit are considered “campus students” and must abide by the same policies as the rest of student body. These policies can be found in the UIC Student Handbook.
A few considerations regarding students admitted to online programs are highlighted below.
Students admitted to an online program only (i.e., they are not jointly enrolled in an on-campus program) are temporarily exempt from immunization requirements provided their program does not require registering for more than five credit hours of on-campus courses per term. Prior to registering for more than five credit hours of on-campus courses, students must submit the required proof of immunity. Visit the Office of Records and Registration site to view the campus policy on immunization.
- I-20s / Student Visas
International students who live outside the United States and who enroll in an online program (or an individual online course) at the University of Illinois at Chicago are not eligible for student visas. If a course or program has an on-campus or in-person requirement within the United States, international students may attend but will not be issued a student visa.
- International Students at UIC
For F 1 students enrolled in classes for credit or classroom hours, no more than the equivalent of one class or three credits per semester may be counted toward the full course of study requirement if the class is taken online or through distance education and does not require the student's physical attendance for classes, examination or other purposes integral to completion of the class. If the F-1 student's course of study is in a language study program, no online or distance education classes may be considered to count toward a student's full course of study requirement.
All online programs at the University of Illinois at Chicago are assessed the e-Tuition, which is approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. The e-Tuition is a single-rate, per credit hour tuition, inclusive of all fees.
The current e-Tuition rate can be found on the Paying for My Education page.
Online programs at UIC have a single-rate e-Tuition that is inclusive of student fees. No additional fees are assessed to students enrolled in online programs.
Students enrolled in online programs are not eligible to receive the U-Pass and are not assessed a fee for the U-Pass. Students enrolled in online programs who plan to visit the UIC campus should visit the CTA Web site to learn about the various types of passes and whether student discounts are available.
Students enrolled in online programs are not eligible for UIC’s health insurance. However, the campus has some tools and resources available for finding competitive quotes on personal insurance plans. Visit UIC’s Campus Care Web site for more information.
Preparing to Learn
Entering the world of online and blended learning is an exciting experience. However, it can be a potentially confusing one. But it doesn't have to be. Many times, participants assume that the main difference between online and face-to-face learning is the technology. While it's correct to state that technology is the most apparent difference, there are several other differences as well.
The online learning process involves three inter-related dimensions of participation. These are typically characterized as "learner-learner," "learner-instructor" and "learner-course." The successful participant engages in all three facets of learning, interacting with the instructor and peers through guided discussion threads, and interacting with materials provided through hyperlinks on the course Web site.
Frequently Asked Questions
Following is a list of questions that new online and blended learners often ask.
Q: How do blended and online courses differ from traditional courses?
A: Learning online is a lot like learning in a classroom. You will share ideas with experienced faculty and fellow students, write papers and work in teams. Unlike the traditional classroom, the blended course enables you to do much of your course work and collaboration from home.
UIC blended courses integrate online learning with traditional face-to-face classroom activities in a pedagogically planned manner. A portion of the instruction (25 - 74%) is provided via the Internet.
UIC online courses enable students to complete almost all of their coursework remotely. The instruction and the interaction are done virtually.
Whether you come to campus or to your online course site, the learning goals, experienced faculty and diverse student body are the same.
Q: Am I the type of learner who will secceed in an online or blended course? Do I have the computer skills necessary to succeed?
A: Successful online and blended learners are:
- Willing to share their educational experiences, as well as their work and life experiences as part of the learning process
- Comfortable communicating in writing and verbally
- Self-motivated and self-disciplined
- Able to balance school work with life
- Are self-starters who enjoy the independence that the virtual class experience offers
- Comfortable working with computers
- Able and willing to dedicate 10 to 15 hours per week for each class’s coursework
Q: Do I have the computer skills necessary to succeed?
A: If you have a willingness to learn and the ability to work with a computer, you are ready. Keep in mind that online and blended courses are carefully designed to teach the topic of the course, not computer basics such as saving and sending files. Your learning experience will become richer as your technical skills increase.
Q: Is my computer set up correctly? What are the technical requirements?
A: Please refer to the Technical Requirements section of the site for detailed information for your PC or Mac. Keep in mind that if your home computer does not have everything you need, you may still enjoy the flexibility of taking an online or blended course by using one of the UIC computer labs or your local library.
Q: What if I need help with my computer or set-up?
A: Technical support is available! Please refer to the Technical Support section of the site for detailed information.
The following page will help you make the most of your blended and/or online course experience. The tips included below include time management strategies and advice on getting started and staying organized and on-track in the virtual classroom.
Be aware of technology requirements: Make sure you have the equipment and tools needed to complete your online class. For instance make sure you have a Internet Service Provider(ISP), a computer and modem. For minimum technology requirements, please visit the Technical Requirements page on the Web site. Additional technology requirements and free downloads are provided within the course site. Finally, if necessary, UIC’s campus computer labs are available to all UIC online and blended students.
Read and print the course syllabus: The course syllabus reflects the instructor's expectations, course objectives and important course dates. By reading the course syllabus and keeping it on hand, you will have a better understanding of what will be required of you to successfully complete the course.
Utilize a calendar: Using some kind of calendar will help you map out a study plan and will insure that you are aware of all due dates for assignments, group discussions and upcoming exams. Set goals and deadlines for completing your assignments. Also, remember the online learning environment is open 24 hours, and most electronic calendars have reminder tools built in so that you can be automatically notify of the next task for your course.
Get organized: Take notes and keep records of the course orientation and any audio lectures as this information will be used throughout the entire course. Keeping hard copies of all correspondence, assignments, syllabi, teacher's instructions, etc. in a binder will aid in organization. Also, be sure to bookmark the class course site.
Prioritize: Organize your tasks to determine the order in which you will tackle course assignments. Breaking large assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks will help. Plus, you will feel a sense of accomplishment as you cross items off of your list!
Log in regularly:There may be news and updates from the instructor and/or e-mail and other communication among the students that you’ll miss if you do not login on a regular basis.
Do not fall behind:It is extremely hard to catch up on missed work in an online course; therefore, it is important to make every effort to keep up with each week's assignment(s).
Use the cut or copy and paste functions:Type, edit, review and save assignments in a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or NeoOffice, before posting directly into a discussion board. Then copy and paste the assignment to the applicable program (Blackboard, e-mail, etc.). It is also helpful to copy and paste chats into the word processing program—especially when chats are assignment-related and may contain information that will be referenced at a later time.
Flexibility: Adaptability is important. Allow for disruptions or inconveniences associated with technology, but always notify your instructor if you are having technical support that is prohibiting you from completing assignments. Remember, with an online course, good communication is essential. Try to avoid interruptions and distractions when you decide to login to your online course.
Help:Never be afraid to ask for help, but do allow reasonable time for the instructor or the technical support team to respond. If any difficulties surface, make your instructor aware of your concerns or circumstances.
Use other UIC resources:Check out UIC's Academic Center for Excellence for general study and learning skills and other tools designed to help UIC students accomplish academic goals.
Media & Technology
The content that will be provided to you in your online or blended course may be in various formats. Each type of learning technology used in your online or blended course has been designed to best suit the learning objectives of your course. Below are some of the various formats you may encounter during your online learning experience.
Blackboard - Learning Management System
Blackboard is an electronic system, known as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that uses Internet technology to provide a platform for teaching and learning via the World Wide Web. Because Blackboard is designed for the use of students and staff rather than computer programmers or IT specialists, it does not require a high level of IT expertise or experience. As an Internet-based system, the learning materials on Blackboard can be accessed by you "anywhere, any time" - all that is needed is a suitable computer with Internet access.
Explore the online and blended course experience by launching this
Online Discussion Boards
Using Online Discussions in Blackboard is one of the easiest and most prevalent ways to begin fostering online collaboration. This tool helps to engage students and fosters a community within each individual course. Discussion forums allow for:
- Clarification of points that may not have been understood fully in class.
- Students to learn from each other by leveraging the intellectual capital of the entire class.
The term "blog" is short for "weblog". Blogs are Web sites created and edited by individuals who want to share their thoughts with a potentially limitless audience. Some take the form of diary entries, while others are a list of links to interesting places on the Web. While most blogs are personal in nature, there is still the opportunity for blogs to play an important role in education.
In an online or blended course, the instructor might ask students to develop a blog of their own as the class explores course readings and discussions. In addition to sharing personal thoughts, bloggers are able to read and comment on the blogs of others. Finally, because blogs are usually accessible to individuals outside of the classroom (whether online or classroom-based) students may be able to share ideas with people from all over the world.
There are a number of blogging platforms to choose from. Some require special software, while others require nothing more than access to a Web browser. If blogs are a part of an online course, the instructor will provide additional information and instructions.
ACCC e-rooms (Web conferencing software)
ACCC e-Rooms is the new Web-based collaboration server that allows for real-time communication amongst several remote locations. This seamless application has an intuitive user interface and supports a wide range of different communication modalities including audio chat (VoIP), text chat, application sharing, real-time polling, video and websafaris.
Users who wish to participate in audio chat must use a computer with a sound card, speakers and a microphone. Users who wish to share video must use a computer with a webcam. Users who wish to participate in conferences but who do not have these peripherals installed on their systems can still communicate during a collaboration session through the use of the text chat tool.For more information regarding use of the e-Rooms system, please review the rest of the e-Rooms support pages, or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RSS and Site Syndication
"RSS" stands for Really Simple Syndication. As a technology, it allows web authors to share their latest headlines, content and multimedia without requiring visitors to actively navigate to a specific Web site. In this sense, RSS is considered a "push" technology - content is delivered to the user rather than requiring a user to manually "pull" information from a Web site. In practice, this makes Web content more electronic and allows for a much faster and better tailored delivery of information.
Since mid-2000, use of RSS has spread to many of the major news organizations, including Reuters, CNN, PR Newswire, Business Wire and the BBC. These providers allow other Web sites to incorporate their "syndicated" headline or headline-and-short-summary feeds under various usage agreements.
RSS is now used for many purposes, including marketing, bug-reports or any other activity involving periodic updates or publications. Many corporations are turning to RSS for delivery of their news, thus replacing e-mail and fax distribution.
The term "podcast" is a blending of the words iPod and broadcast. This can result in a certain amount of confusion as an Apple iPod is not necessary to listen to a podcast, and there is no signal being broadcast in a traditional sense. Instead, a podcast is simply a small text file that instructs a computer to download an MP3 file or other audio source. This audio file can be stored on the computer's hard drive for later listening, or automatically transferred to a portable MP3 player for listening on the go.
There are a number of applications that will allow for the download and organization of podcasts. For windows based computers, these include Doppler Radio , JuiceReceiver and iPodder X (the latter two are also compatible with Macintosh computers). One of the most popular podcast applications, however, is iTunes avaliable for both Apple Macintosh and Windows based computers.
A wiki is a Web based application that enables documents to be written collectively (co-authoring). A single page in a wiki is referred to as a "wiki page", while the entire body of pages, which are usually highly interconnected via hyperlinks, is "the wiki". In effect, a wiki is a very simple and easy to use database.
A defining characteristic of wiki technology is the ease with which pages can be created and updated. Generally, there is no review before modifications are accepted. Most wikis are open to the general public without the need to register any user account. Sometimes session log-in is requested to acquire a "wiki-signature" cookie for autosigning edits. More private wiki servers require user authentication. However, many edits can be made in real-time, and appear almost instantaneously online. This can often lead to abuse of the system.
E-mail & Print
Some courses will use traditional modes of technology, such as print materials for things such as textbooks, study guides and workbooks. Also, while most instructors rely on the discussion boards in the Blackboard course sites, e-mail is still an acceptable form of communication used between instructor and student.
Asynchronous Learning:interaction between instructors and students that occurs independent of time or location.
Blended Course:(also known as hybrid) 1) Integrates online with traditional face-to-face classroom activities in a planned, pedagogically valuable manner; 2) where a portion of classroom based instruction is replaced by online activity and 3) where 25 - 74% of instruction occurs online.
Blended Program:(also known as hybrid) (1) A series of modules or credit courses offered for degree or credit through a combination of fully online, blended and face-to face courses. (2) A non-credit instructional offering in which instruction and course material is delivered integrating face-to-face and online activities. Blended programs offer 25 - 74% of coursework online.
Distance Education: Educational situation in which the instructor and students are separated from the main campus by time, location or both. Education or training courses are delivered to remote locations via synchronous or asynchronous instruction, including written correspondence, text, graphics, audio and videotape, CD-ROM, online learning, audio and video- conferencing, interactive TV and facsimile. Distance learning does not preclude the use of the traditional classroom. The definition of distance learning is broader than, and includes, the definition of e-learning.
Distance Learning: Learning where the instructor and the students are in physically separate locations. Can be either synchronous or asynchronous . Can include correspondence, video or satellite broadcasts, or e-Learning. Usually implies the higher education level.
Eportfolio or E-Portfolio: An electronic file folder system containing text, audio, video, graphic, data and other files used to document and share work from a project, class or degree program. Commonly, e-portfolios are used for assessment purposes. Some academic discipline accreditation agencies have begun requiring e-portfolios to document learning among students. Accomplishment of standards can be mapped and documented in the e-portfolio system.1
Face-To-Face Instruction: Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the instructor meet synchronously in the same room; also referred to as “on-ground” or “on campus” instruction.
Hybrid Course: see blended course
On Campus Students: Term used to describe students who attend classes in the traditional classroom environment on the campus.
On Ground students: Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment, also referred to as “face-to-face” (see definition) or “on campus” (see definition).
Online: Connected to a computer or computer network, or more generally, accessible via a computer or computer network. The word is also used more casually to describe content and applications that are accessible via the Internet.
Online Course: An instructional offering for academic credit, professional credit or non-credit, during which instruction and course material are delivered primarily (75% or more) through the Internet. There is little or no required face-to-face component (examples include orientations and proctored exams).
Online Education:Credit-granting courses or non-credit instruction delivered primarily via the Internet in which students and the instructor are in separate locations. Online education may be delivered synchronously or asynchronously.
Online Environment:Courses, discussions or other communication occurring in an electronic format via the Internet.
Online Learning:Instruction that is delivered by Web-based or Internet-based technologies.
Online Program: (1) A series of modules or credit courses offered for degree or credit in which instruction and course material is delivered primarily through the Internet where at least 75% of the credit hours earned are online. (2) A non-credit instructional offering in which instruction and course material is delivered primarily through the Internet.
Online Student:A person admitted in an Online Program (see definitions) either as degree, non-degree or non-credit student.
Synchronous Learning: Real-time interaction that occurs independent of location.
Technology Enhanced Course: A course or program that utilizes any one or more various technologies, such as video, audio and the Internet to augment the traditional delivery of information to students via lecture, text and printed syllabi. Face-to-face instruction is not significantly replaced (25% or more) with online instruction.