Distance Education Resources

Learn more about Distance Education at Ivy Tech Community College and how it can help you reach your goals.

Jeanna Dunne
Communication Tips

During the semester you may need to contact your instructor or college staff with questions regarding your course. You may have questions about course content, or other issues that need the immediate attention of College staff.

When communicating with your course instructor, please follow the directions that your instructor has given to you for communication in the syllabus. For example, if your instructor asks you to communicate with him/her via Blackboard Messages, please use Blackboard Messages and not e-mail.

If you need to contact your instructor regarding a problem with the course, or you have questions on an assignment or exam, or if you need to address any other issues, please do the following:

  • Be as specific as possible with the problem you are having. Make sure to let your instructor know exactly what the problem you are experiencing is. In addition, tell the instructor the date and time you experienced the problem.
  • Keep all communication professional. If you are having problems with the class, you may be frustrated, angry, or upset, but it is important that you remain professional at all times.
  • Be sure to include both your first and last name in the email as well as the course you are in.
  • Do not expect an immediate response to your communication. Your instructor has 48 working hours to reply to your message.

If you need to report problems with your course to the Distance Education Coordinator, please follow these suggestions:

  • Provide information about your course - which course it is, what section you are enrolled in, and the name of your instructor. Also be sure to include your first and last name as well as your C number. NEVER put your social security number in an e-mail message.
  • Provide specific issues, and detailed descriptions of those issues, to your DE Coordinator. The more information you can provide to the DE Coordinator, the better.
  • Just like all communications with your instructor, keep all communication with the DE Coordinator professional.
  • When the DE Coordinator responds to you, if he or she provides you with specific directions, please follow them exactly.

It is also important that you keep a copy of all communications between you and your instructor during the semester. It is highly recommended that you create a folder for each class you are taking in your Ivy Tech e-mail account, and that you move all class-related messages.


What Equipment and Software Do I Need?

  • 1GHz or faster CPU
  • 256 MB or more of RAM
  • 56K dial-up connection (DSL or Cable Broadband strongly suggested)
  • Windows XP (Mac OS X and Linux/Unix OS are suitable for most, but not all, online course applications
  • CD-ROM drive (DVD drive may be required for some course content
  • Sound card and speakers/headphones may be required for some course content
  • Video card and monitor capable of displaying at least 16 bit color (thousands of colors)
  • Current Web Browser (Internet Explorer or FireFox suggested)
  • Word Processing software (Microsoft Word required for some online course applications)

Links for Downloading Free Plug-Ins

  • PowerPoint Viewer: This plug-in allows students who do not have PowerPoint software on their computers to view PowerPoint presentations their instructors may use in courses.
  • Microsoft Word Viewer: If you don't have Microsoft Word on your computer, this invaluable plug-in will enable you to read Word documents that may be part of your online course.
  • Macromedia's Shockwave and Flash: This plug-in allows students to view web documents that incorporate Shockwave and/or Flash technology.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader: A must have for serious web users, this allows students to view documents in their classes that instructors have converted to this format.
  • Real Player: This plug-in is commonly used for listening to audio clips that may be a part of course documents or web pages.
  • Apple Quicktime: A highest quality media player. Not usually required for classes, but very cool to have.
  • Microsoft Mediaplayer: Another media player plug-in that may be required for some courses.

Note: Specific classes may require additional hardware or software.


Ivy Tech Community College offers students both land-based and online library services to meet all of their educational needs. The Virtual Library as well as information about your local region's on campus library services are available from the library area of Campus Connect.



  • Unless you're using an encryption device (hardware or software), you should assume that e-mail is not secure. Never put anything in an e-mail message that you wouldn't put on a postcard.
  • If you are forwarding or re-posting a message you've received, don't change the wording. If it was a personal message to you, ask permission before re-posting or forwarding it to someone else. Even if you shorten the message and quote relevant parts, be sure you give proper attribution.
  • Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you receive. Don't send heated messages or personal attacks against others (these are called "flames") even if you are provoked. On the other hand, don't be surprised if you get "flamed." Resist the temptation to respond to flames, and wait overnight to send emotional responses.
  • Make things easy for the e-mail recipient. Some mailers delete header information that includes your return address. Be sure to include a line or two (four or less is best) at the end of your message with contact information so people know who you are. You can create this file ahead of time and add it to the end of your messages.
  • Be careful when addressing e-mail. Some addresses look like they are for only one person, but instead they go to a group. Know to whom you are sending your message. Watch cc's when replying. Don't continue to include people if messages have become a two-way conversation.
  • Remember that people with whom you communicate may live around the world and in different time zones. If you send a message to which you want an immediate response, the person receiving it might be at home asleep when it arrives. Give them a chance to wake up and log in before assuming the e-mail didn't arrive or that they don't care.
  • Be brief. Saying it succinctly will have greater impact. If an e-mail is over 100 lines long, it is courteous to note "Long" in the subject header so the recipient knows the message will take time to read and respond to. Consider sending longer messages as attachments.
  • Get familiar with basic online acronyms. BTW stands for "By the way"; FAQ refers to a list of frequently asked questions and their answers; IMHO stands for "In my humble opinion"; WTG is "way to go"; ROTFL stands for "rolling on the floor laughing." Incidentally, a "newbie" is a user new to the Internet.
  • Be careful with humor and sarcasm. Remember that the recipient is someone whose culture, language, and humor have different points of reference from your own. Also, without voice inflections and body language, it is easy for a remark intended to be humorous to be misinterpreted. Be especially careful with sarcasm. You can convey some personality with emoticons such as "smileys" :-) winks ;-) or a frown :- (
  • When replying to a message or listserv posting, include enough original material to be understood but no more. It's extremely bad form to simply reply to a message by including the entire previous message-edit out all the irrelevant material.
  • Use descriptive, key words in the subject heading which reflect the content of the message.
  • If you think a message you received is important enough, send a brief reply immediately so the sender knows you got it, even if you plan to send a longer reply later.
  • Know the size of the messages you send. Including large files or programs may make your message so large that it can't be delivered or cause it to consume excessive resources. A good rule of thumb is to not send a file larger than 50 Kilobytes. Consider file transfer as an alternative, or cut the file into smaller chunks and send each as a separate message.


  • Use mixed case and proper punctuation, as though you were typing a letter or sending mail.
  • Don't run off the end of a line and simply let the terminal wrap; use a Carriage Return (CR) at the end of the line. Also, don't assume your screen size is the same as everyone else's. A good rule of thumb is to write out no more than 70 characters and no more than 12 lines (since you're using a split screen).
  • Leave some margin; don't write to the edge of the screen.
  • Use two Carriage Returns (a blank line) to indicate that you are done and the other person may start typing.
  • Always say goodbye or some other farewell and wait for a farewell from the other person before killing the session. Remember, the timing of your communication relies on both bandwidth (the size of the pipe) and latency (the speed of light). If participating in class, do not sign off until the instructor indicates the session has ended.
  • Chat shows your typing ability. If you type slowly and make mistakes when typing, it is often not worth the time of trying to correct, as the other person can usually see what you meant.

The above guidelines are based on a product of the Responsible Use of the Network (RUN) Working Group of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Used with permission.


As with any college course, you may need to do research for your online courses. There is a wealth of information available online to assist you in your research tasks. And, of course, you may make use of the libraries that are available to traditional students.

This page gives you links to libraries and resource centers throughout the state. In addition to meeting your research needs, local libraries and resource centers often have facilities available for test proctoring (supervision), which you may need for your online courses.


Ivy Tech Library Research Tools

Library Tutorial Videos

Evaluating Web Pages - Visit Duke University's Research Guide to help you determine the usefulness of information found on the Internet.

Student Success Tips

Succeeding from the Beginning

  • If you haven't had much experience with computers and the Internet, take a computer class or an online tutorial before starting your Internet course. Click here for help in improving your technical skills.
  • Read, read, read!!! Read all course information and/or the syllabus very carefully. Look for details about the course requirements, meetings, assignments, testing procedures, media and technology used, schedule or due dates, and contact information. If you do not find details about these topics, ask your instructor in the beginning.
  • Make sure you have the tools and equipment needed to complete the class assignments. Some classes require special software, video recorders, tape players, fax machines, etc.
  • Make sure you have a dependable Internet Service Provider (ISP) and a computer and modem, preferably at home.
  • Become familiar with the course design by completing the Orientation to Online Instruction that introduces the course software. Contact technical support with questions about features you do not understand. Attend student orientation sessions.
  • Log into your course as soon as it becomes available. Check out the web site for the campus delivering your course. It should give you all the information you need to log in.
  • Contact your instructor right away to introduce yourself and ask any questions you might have about the course requirements, assignments, testing, special equipment or materials needed, etc.
  • Advise your instructor immediately of any changes in your personal information, i.e. e-mail address, phone number, mailing address, etc.  Update your own personal information, if your course platform enables you to do so.
  • Get to know other people in your class through discussions, chat, email, etc. Relationships with your online peers can help support and encourage you throughout the course. Write in a way to allow fellow students and the instructor to see your personality.

Developing Study Habits for Success

Study Skills. Distance courses require the same study skills that make one successful in face-to-face classes. We strongly encourage you to download and read Study Skills: A guide to Better Grades and Real Learning

In addition, here is a link to useful college study skills information from other institutions:

Learning Styles. Most people have preferred ways of absorbing or processing information. We call this "learning style". There is no learning style that is right or wrong but it's helpful to evaluate your strengths so you can capitalize on them. You may need to develop new learning strategies when your online course requires that you process information in ways that are less comfortable to you.

Numerous learning style assessments are available online. Check out one or more below. Most people can learn in a number of ways…. we simply "prefer" some styles over others.

Study Tips:

  • Be prepared to study hard! Avoid interruptions and distractions while you are working on your Internet course.
  • Don't assume that your Internet course is easier. In fact, expect to spend as much or more time studying as you would for a face-to-face class.
  • Keep up with assignments! Don't let yourself fall behind.
  • Read, read, read! Read all the materials and access the hyperlinks your instructor posts.
  • Study in a place that is comfortable and free from distractions. Take stretch breaks every 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Be focused, organized, dedicated, patient, consistent, determined, and have fun!

Managing Time

  • Log in regularly. While you may not "attend" class, you do need to establish a time to work on your Internet course. Check the course site regularly for changes, additional information, announcements, etc.
  • Keep a Calendar. After studying the syllabus, mark deadlines, test dates, etc., in a calendar. Mark items off as you complete them.
  • Set your own goals and deadlines. If the class does not have specific due dates, make them up for yourself.  Set specific days or times to complete online assignments.
  • Keep established and recommended deadlines. It is much easier to stay on schedule than to catch up when you fall behind.
  • Don't procrastinate. Don't wait until the last minute to do assignments or take tests. Allow time for technical difficulties--the web will be slow at times, and servers some times go down unexpectedly. If you get your work done ahead of schedule, you'll have time to try again when problems arise.
  • Communicate often. Check your email often, and respond promptly to instructors and fellow classmates.

Completing and Sending Assignments

  • Read instructions carefully. When in doubt, ask questions. This helps you get to know what your instructor expects.
  • Be prepared to apply critical thinking and decision making skills. Rather than regurgitating facts, your online instructor may ask you to make decisions based on information you have gathered and processed. 
  • Keep electronic and paper copies of your completed assignments.
  • When e-mailing assignments, also send a copy to yourself. This way, you will know if the e-mail was sent successfully. If possible, request a "read" receipt so you'll know whether your instructor received your e-mail.

Ask for Help

  • Remember that your instructor is there to instruct. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Unlike in a face-to-face class, your instructor doesn't know you are confused, bored, or frustrated unless you tell them.
  • Allow a reasonable amount of time for instructors to respond to email. Most will try to respond as soon as possible or at least within 48 hours. If they don't, try another method of communication, i.e. phone, fax, snail mail, etc.
  • If, after different attempts, you still do not get a response from your instructor, contact the program or division chair and the distance education coordinator at the campus delivering your course. Be prepared to give them specific information as to how and when you attempted to contact your instructor.
  • Ask for help as soon as communication difficulties surface. Do not wait until you have fallen behind or until the end of the course to share concerns. Use any online evaluation forms that are available to you.
Technical Skills

How to Use the Mouse: These tutorials are for the very beginning computer user and offer instruction and practice for using the mouse.

Basic Computing Skills: Here you can learn and practice basic computer skills. There are also tutorials on basic computer-related topics.

Using the Windows Environment: Most online students will be working with the Windows operating system (unless you have a Mac computer). You'll need to know the essentials of using Windows to succeed in your online coursework.

Using Popular Software

Using the Internet

Test Taking

Tests for online courses are administered in a variety of ways, depending on the instructor. You may take some tests or quizzes online, while for others you may need to go to a local Ivy Tech campus or other testing center to be proctored (supervised) while taking the test.

The instructor of your online course will advise you about how a given test should be taken and will probably give you instructions about how to obtain a test proctor or where you should go to take the test. If you need to arrange for a proctored test, consult your instructor for advice.

However, you may also find it useful to contact the campus delivering your course. Also, the Indiana College Network Learning Centers may be able to give you information about taking proctored tests at their sites.

Writing Skills

Any college course requires a good deal of academic writing, but in an online course, the primary medium of communication is writing – adding even greater importance to this skill. The following resources can help you polish your writing skills.