Online with
Louise Ripley

Learning Aids
Idiot's Guide to My Website
If you’re offended by this title, you’re not my target market and you don’t belong here; you can leave now by hitting the “back” button, but if you don’t know what that is maybe you should stick around. One major piece of advice that solves a large number of web problems: try hitting the refresh (or reload) button.
Online Course Kits Whether you are taking a course on the Internet with me or an on-campus class, my course kits are now online. I can get them to you much faster this way. This is all there is - there is no course kit to buy in the bookstore and nothing handed out in class. This page will help you get to know the website. 
My site is very much a “web” – everything branches out from the Course Syllabus, everything is connected to everything else (the basic premise of my Great Books Liberal Arts undergraduate education), and everything is as consistent as I can manage to get it. All my web pages were designed by the same person – me, so look for consistencies in design that will help you figure out where you are. All pages relating specifically to one course for example have the same coloured stripe across the top and left. I use no password protection so you can get in at any time, even after you have completed the course. 
The Course Syllabus Each course I teach starts on the "Course Syllabus" page and to get there you enter either through the official Course Outline or through my website. Everything is on the Course Syllabus page or linked to it.
A basic building block of the web is the link. It’s what differentiates a website from traditional published material. In a book the author writes, “refer to page 118” and figures the reader will find the right place on that page. On the web, we just put in a “hyperlink” (usually blue but not always, usually underlined but not always) and the reader clicks on it and goes where she's supposed to go. Sometimes a picture illustrating a link is also a link itself. If you run the mouse over a link, a hand with a pointing index finger will appear. 

I assume you read the Course Syllabus. It's full of all kinds of information that will make your learning experience with me easier. Although you are welcome to print out anything you wish, do not fall into the trap of thinking in the old-fashioned mode of traditional print materials and just print all this stuff out and expect it to stay static. The whole point of Internet materials is that they can easily and quickly be changed. Important things like an assignment due date or the weight of a test won't change, but you might, for example, be provided with clearer instructions on an upcoming assignment, or have material added to a section after a student has written to say they'd like it clearer. This corresponds to the experience in class when a student asks me at break about something that isn't clear in the course kit, and as soon as we start class, I make a general announcement to everyone to make it clearer. 

Test dates, due dates, times, texts, readings, method of delivery, are all on the Course Syllabus page. There is a link to instructions for the Discussion Group, and a note that tells you that you must have a email account to participate in an Internet course. Even in on-campus courses, I use your yu# account to contact you and if you don't have one, you won't hear from me. There are also links to pages that tell you how to do your assignments and what I expect, what tests are likely to be like, what you'll need to do well in the course, where and when to find me.  

There are links on nearly all pages that will take you to other pages that tell you more about me as your professor - my Research, Service, and Teaching, a list of other important links, and a Personal page -- all with information that I'd probably share with you in one way or another in a traditional classroom. I come out of a feminist pedagogy which insists that it matters who is teaching you.

If reading materials are provided online, there are links to them from the course syllabus. If I refer to a company's mission statement in an Intro Marketing class, I may provide a link to the company's website where they list their mission statement. If there's a film to be viewed, instructions are linked from there, usually on the "Assignments" page. It's all there, including all the "small print" that reminds you of all the things you are responsible for.  

To get back to the Course Syllabus at any time, click on your browser's back button. I can't show you where this one is; it will be a little different on each system. Mine is in the upper left corner of my computer screen. Alternatively, you can go to the top of the page where you will find a link called "Return to Course Syllabus.

Down the sides of many of the pages are links to Policy Pages which form an integral part of all course kits. Read through the Ground Rules first. Try not to be overwhelmed by the amount of information available to you. If you're in an Internet course, you won't have me in class, and everything I normally do has to be provided here instead. Don't read it all in detail; skim it, bookmark it, know where to go for information when you need it.  

To start most Internet courses, just start reading the textbook and working your way through the units provided online. 

The Small Print
There are many links and sites on my web pages that will tell you about York, the Faculty, me, and how I teach. You are welcome to check these out. You MUST check any Teaching Policy links; they are an integral part of the course and you are responsible for their content. 

The Biggest problem you’re most likely going to have is not reading the Course Syllabus page carefully. Go back to it regularly; bookmark it so you can get right to it. Check it often and refer to it for everything.

Testing the Web Routes I’ve tested all this stuff out on my web expert using the most advanced sophisticated technical methods available today -- usually a holler across the room, “Hey you! Go look at my Intro Marketing Assignments page!” and if the web expert (my husband) can’t find it, I know I have to make it easier to get there and I do. But that said, we all have different bugaboos that cause us trouble; here are some of the most common errors. 

Web Errors
(most, sad to admit, I have done myself)
Error Solution
Not Reading Instructions
Read the Instructions
I hate wasting my precious time reading instructions, I want to get right into whatever I’m doing, but for most things in life, we have to read some sort of instructions if we expect to be successful. 
Forgetting The “Back” Key
Find your browser's “back” key and use it, regularly. It will take you back to the page you were just on. 
Making It Too Complicated
The instant anything, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant goes wrong, I assume that the entirety of the world wide network of computer machinery and expertise has suddenly and inexplicably collapsed forever and no one will ever again be able to use it. In reality it’s more likely that I hit the number lock key while typing, or knocked the monitor cable out while dusting. While I'm envisioning the collapse of civilization as we know it, my husband finds the Number Lock light and the loose cable.

Look For a Simple Solution First
Check that things are as they should be; double check that you're doing what you think you're doing 

Forgetting about the Refresh/Reload Button

The screen looks strange, the professor said she’s posted something new but it’s the same old page, a link won’t work, a picture is fuzzy…

Hit the Refresh or Reload Button
Any time something doesn’t work on your computer (assuming it’s plugged in and working normally), try the “refresh” key. If you're still having problems, try hitting the F5 Key.
Assuming the Back Key is Forever
If you’ve been backing up and backing up and suddenly find yourself in the poppy fields of Oz miles away from the yellow brick road, go back to the course syllabus (often a direct link at top of the page you're on), go “home” (button on every page) where you'll find a search engine for the web page, or go to the Index where you can look up where you want to go, and start over. Wherever I can, I put a button such as "Go Back to (a specific place)" but on pages to which dozens of other pages link, it's not always possible

General Advice Stay calm, don't panic (civilization usually does NOT end in an afternoon). Try to figure it out logically because I'm a very logical person and there is logic in (almost) everything on my web. Ask for help from a group member or classmate you've met on the web. Write the or if it's a technical problem. If you find an error let me know and I'll fix it; I never clammed to be prefect.

York University, Toronto
© M Louise Ripley, M.B.A., Ph.D.