Introducing features of the course website
This section introduces you to the features of the course website, which you can access from the course homepage.
The Course content area
The 'Course content' area is the most important area of the course homepage as this is where you will find all the materials and activities that make up the online elements of your course. Remember you can get to this page at any time by clicking the shortened version of the course title in the navigation bar.
The picture below is an example of a 'Course content' area. The items in the top section, which in this example include theand , are generic items that will be used throughout the course. The other sections are divided into the units or sessions you will study during the course and include links to the course resources and related activities.
On the left side of your screen, you will see a number of 'blocks'. These provide essential tools, resources and other information you will use to help you study online. When you first log in the blocks may be collapsed. Click on the '+' button on the right side of each block to open it. You can close any open blocks by clicking on the '-' button.
Your course will contain some or all of the following blocks.
The ‘People’ block
The ‘People’ block provides information about all the people on your course. If you wish to view the profile of your tutor or other students on your course, click on the ‘Participants’ link and then click on the name of the person whose profile you wish to view.
Some classes will be divided into smaller groups for group activities. If your course has groups, you can see who is in each group by selecting the name of the group from the ‘Separate/Visible groups:’ drop-down menu at the top of the screen. (Note: We recommend that after you have checked the participants of groups you select ‘All participants’ from the drop-down menu to display the full list of course participants.)
The 'Calendar' block
The 'Calendar' block will be set up to include important information about your course, such as your assignment deadline and any scheduled activities. The calendar may also be used to give you suggested dates for starting and finishing course materials.
You can move between months on the calendar using the arrows either side of the month displayed. You will see that there are four types of event listed in the calendar: Global, Course, Group, and User. Global, Course and Group events will be set by your course administrator; User events are items you add to the calendar yourself. (Note that only you can see any events you add to the calendar.) To display details of an event in the calendar, hold your cursor over the date. A box providing further information about the event will pop up and you can click on the link in the pop-up for further information. The calendar works closely with the ‘Upcoming events’ block.
The ‘Recent activity’ block
The ‘Recent activity’ block displays a list of recent activity within the course, together with links to the item changed and a full report of recent activity. The number and nature of the items displayed will depend on the amount and type of activities included in the course. You may find this block particularly useful to see if any new postings have been made to your course discussion forums since the last time you logged in.
The ‘Activities’ block
The ‘Activities’ block lists the different activities available in your course. Clicking on the link to the right of an activity icon will display a list of all available activities of that type. The icons for the different activities are used throughout the course. For example, you will notice that the Course content area illustrated above includes the icon for Forums:.
The most commonly used activities are ‘Forums’, and ‘Resources’. Forums are used for class and group discussions, and resources are usually documents or sets of web pages. Discussion forums are a central part of an online course, and as such they will be explained in more detail in the ‘Discussion forums’ section.
The ‘Blog menu’ block
Your blog is a place where you can write notes and record your thoughts on topics as you work through the course. The ‘Blog menu’ block provides access to your blog and enables you to set the preferences. Further information about blogs is provided in ‘Blogs’ section.
The ‘Upcoming events’ block
The ‘Upcoming events’ block displays a list of future events drawn from the course calendar, together with links to create a new event in, and view, the calendar.
The ‘Search forums’ block
The ‘Search forums’ block can be used to search for text in the discussion forums of your course. To use the search, simply enter the text you are looking for in the box and then click the 'Go' button. For a more specific search, click on ‘Advanced search’. This will display a form with more options, enabling you to carry out more detailed searches. For help on search options, click . Please note that the search facility only searches the discussion forums and not the course resources.
The ‘Administration’ block
The ‘Administration’ block provides content-specific functionality and the options available to you from this block will change depending on your location in the course. Use this block to access your profile settings.
The ‘Navigation’ block
The ‘Navigation’ block provides an alternative way of navigating to parts of your course website and to other courses that you are enrolled on. Some features you may find useful are the ‘My home’ link, which provides a summary page listing key details of all the courses you are enrolled on, and the ‘My profile’ link which provides further links to access your profile as well as contributions, such as forum posts, that you have made.
Access to subscription-based resources
Some courses provide students with access to subscription-based online resources. For example, many of the Department’s online short courses provide students with access to online resources from Oxford University Press. Access to subscription-based resources is often provided via a block on the course homepage. If you are studying a short course with access to Oxford Reference Online, you must access the resources either via the link in the ‘Oxford Reference Online’ block on your course homepage or via a link in your course materials otherwise you will not be able to view the subscription-based resources.
Collapsing and docking blocks
To make more room on your screen, you may choose to ‘collapse’ or ‘dock’ individual blocks. Collapsing a block hides the content leaving just the block heading displaying and docking a block moves it to the far left-hand side of the screen (see the diagram below where the ‘Administration’ and ‘Navigation’ blocks have been docked).
To collapse a given block click on the button on the right side of the block to close it. You can re-open any collapsed block by clicking on the button.
To dock blocks click on the icon. To view the content of a docked block hold your curser over it in the side menu and the content will be displayed.
If you wish to restore a block that has been docked to the main screen hold your curser on it and then click on the icon.