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Before Your Online Course Starts

There is plenty you can do to make your first online course a good experience. Before your course starts, you should:

1. Read the course syllabus and become familiar with the format of the course.

Check the course website to view the course syllabus. Be sure you know what will be expected of you. If you have any concerns or questions about the course, contact the instructor. Syllabi for online courses can be accessed here.

2. Obtain the course textbook and supplemental materials

Your primary resource for most courses will be your textbook. If you don't want to come to campus to pick up the book, you can either order it from the Allegany College of Maryland bookstore and ask them to mail it to you (301-784-5348, there is an additional fee for shipping) or order it online from,, or . If ordering online, use the ISBN number indicated on the syllabus to be sure you order the correct textbook. If you choose this route, be sure that the textbook can be shipped and received in time for the beginning of class.

The textbook information should be included in the syllabus for your course.

3. Identify all of the equipment and tools you need for the course.

In addition to the computer requirements stated in "Prerequisites for Taking an Online Course" some courses require additional hardware or software. Be sure to check all of the requirements for a course before signing up for the course. Syllabi for online courses (which also contain technical requirements) can be accessed here . If you still aren't sure what you will need, email the instructor in advance.

4. Make sure all your systems are up and running before the course starts. Check your system for:

A. Browser version and settings

For an introduction to browsers click here.

Internet Explorer (recommended)

If you are running Internet Explorer (recommended) view the Internet Explorer version recommendations for your computer. To see what version of IE you are running on your computer click on the "Help" menu item in your browser and then "About Internet Explorer".

To download the latest version of Internet Explorer click here.


If you are running Firefox view the Firefox version recommendations for your computer. To see what version of Firefox you are running on your computer click on the "Help" menu item in your browser and then "About Mozilla Firefox".

To download the latest version of Firefox click here.

All browsers

Should have Java enabled (not required for all courses)
Should have Cookies enabled
Should have security settings set to medium or low
You should have pop-up blockers disabled
(See the "Technical Support" page for instructions)

B. Speakers

C. Microphone (not required for all courses)

D. Microsoft PowerPoint -If you don't have MS PowerPoint you may download the PowerPoint Viewer.

E. Adobe Acrobat Reader (Not required for all courses) - If you don't have the Adobe Reader you may download Adobe Acrobat Reader

F. Windows Media Player (Not required for all courses) - Your Windows system should already have Windows Media Player installed. If not, you may download the most recent version.

G. Additional Software

Your course may require additional free software (plug-in software). If your instructor tells you (or the syllabus indicates) to download and install any of the below software you may go here to download it.

1. Quicktime
2. Shockwave
3. Flash
4. Real Player

5. Update your basic computer and Internet knowledge.

Review this "Internet 101" web site to update your knowledge about the Internet such as safe surfing, viruses, browsers, email, file sharing and other relevant topics.

6. Familiarize yourself with Blackboard

Allegany College of Maryland uses Blackboard to conduct online courses. You do not need to purchase software to use Blackboard, however, you will need a login and password to access it. You should receive a letter from the Office of Distance Learning no later than 3 days prior to the beginning of classes with your username and password. You will have access to your classes one week prior to the beginning of the semester.

You should read the "Blackboard Information for Students" prior to beginning your online course.

After receiving your Blackboard username and password you should login to your Blackboard account and orient yourself with Blackboard. You should also immediately change your password and update your email address and personal information.

You should be able to perform the following functions in Blackboard before your course starts:

  • Log into your blackboard account (remember to log out when finished!)
  • Change your password
  • Update your email address
  • Find the course syllabus and course calendar
  • Find the "Course Assignments" area
  • Find the "Course documents" area

Once the course is started, you may be asked by your instructor to perform other functions (such as submitting files to them, or using the discussion board). For information about these, and other, Blackboard functions please refer to the "Blackboard Information for Students" page:

7. Be sure you understand the rules about Plagiarism and Copyright

Just as in face-to-face courses, you are expected to abide by the code of student conduct policy as defined in the student manual under "Policy Regarding Student Cheating" (page 62).


As a college student, you are expected to know what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. You are strongly encouraged to get more information at

The Allegany College of Maryland Student Handbook defines plagiarism as:

the submission, as your own work, of papers or parts of papers actually written by another; including in your own work a passage written by another person without giving due credit; i.e.quoting or paraphrasing without proper citation of source.

Academic Dishonesty also includes failure on your part to keep your current and past assignments out of the hands of other students who may misinterpret their origins. It is suggested that you keep a record and/or rough draft of written or other work until you have received your final grade.

Disciplinary action for failure to abide by the "Policy Regarding Student Cheating" is defined in the ACM Student Handbook on page 63.


You are expected to respect copyright ownership of all course content, other students work, or any information presented to you throughout the course. Students shall not copy, publish or distribute copies of course content, other students work, or other course information, or retain copies past the end of the completion of the course.

8. Internet Use Policy

Students are expected to abide by the college's Internet Use Policy as defined in ACM Student Handbook.