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Resources for Distance Education

Objectives

This page is intended to provide information related to available resources for “on-line” or “distance learning” students.  In this context, “on-line” or “distance learning” students are students who interact with UTPB courses using computer-based facilities.  These facilities might include the World Wide Web, electronic mail, the BlackBoard Learning Management System and similar technologies.  

Computer Accounts

Currently enrolled students at UTPB receive a computer account.  This account is for the exclusive use of the student to whom the account is issued and provides access to a number of services.  These services include wireless network access, proxy server access and access to the BlackBoard Learning Management System.  Services to assist in managing your UTPB computer account can be found at:   Click Here

Achieving Connectivity

Participation in on-line distance education requires that you have access to an appropriately equipped computer.  Specific requirements will vary from application to application.  Generally, you should have a computer system of adequate capacity, reasonably current software and a basic understanding of how to operate the hardware and software prior to undertaking an on-line course.  For more information visit the UTPB Online Support Center at

http://d2.parature.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=8376

One of the first priorities for an on-line learner should be the establishment of a reliable connection to the global computer network called the Internet.  This connection should be of sufficient reliability and speed to provide a responsive connection to available resources.  Internet access can be achieved through a number of Internet Service Providers (ISP’s).  The speed of your connection (sometimes called the connection “bandwidth”) is almost always an important issue.  Generally, the higher the connection speed the better.  Unfortunately, higher speeds also have higher associated costs.  The speed you can achieve depends on the capability of your system, on the communication channel you are using and on your ISP.  

Specific software requirements for your system may vary depending on the specifics of your situation.  However, a graphical web browser will be a basic requirement for everyone.  This piece of software allows you to “surf” the Internet using the “language” of the Web.  Information related to two popular browsers can be found at:  

http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.htm  

Commercial ISPs

Any number of commercial Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) are available.   The commercial ISPs provide a variety of connection options and a variety of pricing options.  ISPs may also provide bundled services in addition to standard Internet connectivity.  These service packages may include data, video and voice services at discounted prices.  Detailed instructions for setting up your computer to use a particular ISP will be provided by the ISP.  UTPB does not endorse or recommend any particular ISP.  Information about some typical ISPs is available at:  

http://www.cableone.net/ 

http://www.grandecom.com/

http://www.netwest.com/

http://www.att.com/

http://www.clearwire.com/

Resources

Once a reliable connection scheme with adequate speed has been achieved, the connection can be used to access a huge collection of on-line information resources.  These resources generally fall into one of two categories.  The resources are either unrestricted and available to anyone or the resources are restricted to specific users.   

Unrestricted Resources

Unrestricted resources are available to the general public and can be accessed through the services of a commercial ISP.  These resources generally require no authentication and are accessible to everyone.  

Restricted Resources

Some resources have restricted access.  Typically, on-line resources such as commercial abstract databases, knowledge bases for specific topics, full-text periodical services and similar resources have restricted access.  These restrictions are used to insure that the provider of the information is appropriately reimbursed for access to the product and to insure that the resources are available for UTPB students.  Restricted resources may utilize a variety of protection schemes to insure only authorized users achieve access.  The most common access control schemes rely on Username/Password authentication or on a scheme called source IP address restriction.  Resources which rely on source IP address restriction require some special consideration when being accessed through an ISP.  In particular, you may be required to use the services of a device called a Proxy Server in order to access source IP-protected resources when using a connection provided through an ISP.  When this happens you may be prompted to provide your UTPB username and password in order to access the resources.  

Resource Providers

The huge amount of information available “on-line” presents a number of challenges for the on-line learner.  In particular, restricted resources from different providers may utilize different security measures and may require different access methods.  Most UTPB students will utilize resources provided through UTPB or through the UT Telecampus.   

For additional information about resources available through UTPB see:

http://library.utpb.edu/alphabetical_list.html

 

Additional Information

Additional information about these topics through the UTPB Distance Learning Program Center.  This eLearning resource is also called REACH and can be located at the link listed below:

Web Course Information