Distance Learning Orientation

Welcome to Newman Theological College Distance Learning

Distance education courses at Newman Theological College are held to the same academic standards as on-campus courses.

Every distance education course shall be assessed through the same means as on-campus courses, including an opportunity for students to evaluate the course. All distance education courses include regular opportunities for substantive interaction between professors and learners and among learners. There are opportunities for interaction with the professor at least weekly as part of the course. Additionally, instructors make themselves available to distance education students for individual discussions on an as needed basis via Skype, telephone, etc. In some cases individual tutorials of this nature may be part of the course requirements. When these are mandatory it will be indicated on the course syllabus.

Up to date information on the skills and requirements for successful distance learning are below.

The Study of Theology

THE STUDY OF THEOLOGY

Welcome to Newman Theological College! Founded in 1969 in the wake of the Second Vatican Council by the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, the mission of Newman Theological College is to facilitate human, spiritual and pastoral formation for ministry with a special relationship of partnership with St. Joseph's Seminary. NTC recognizes, respects, and supports the diversity of churches and church traditions within the Catholic communion, both Eastern and Western Catholic and extends its ecumenical vision to other Christian churches including Anglican, Evangelical, Lutheran, and Orthodox.

Faithful to the Catholic tradition, faculty at NTC teach students to think critically about theology and how to live a faith-filled life in service of the Church and the world. We engage the profound questions facing the Church and the world and strive to form women and men to be of service to others. We seek to provide an environment that fosters the intellectual, moral and spiritual development of students and encourage an understanding and respect for the values of the gospel and their implications for individual and social life. Furthermore, we seek inter-faith and cross-cultural dialogue with all people of good will.  

Students come to NTC for many reasons, education and formation for the ordained ministry, lay ministry, including the special ministry of Catholic Education, or for personal faith enrichment. Theology is primarily a faith-filled, intellectual, systematic, sustained comprehensive and critical pursuit that probes and clarifies the meaning of Christian life in the light of the Revelation of God. In addition to the pursuit of knowledge, pastoral practice, theological reflection, and spiritual growth are all integral parts of formation for ministry.

If you love thinking about important and deep issues, and striving to think more clearly and critically about abstract ideas, the study of theology is definitely for you! Theology courses can help us to address deep questions about God and what it means to human. Theological issues are embedded in many questions we face about the human condition and the relationship of human persons with God. There are no easy answers to these deep questions, and at times our presuppositions must be challenged to get at the deeper truth. Our Christian faith and prayer life grounds and guides us along the way, but at times, it also invites us to question inaccuracies of childhood beliefs. In an effort to be patient with ourselves and others as we grow, we practice Christian charity and respect to all persons, even those views which diverge from our own. In all communications with students, faculty, or staff, respect must be demonstrated! Listen deeply to God, to others as they share their faith, and to your own faith journey. Attentive listening is an important skill for us as we learn. Never let your fears or emotional reactions cause you to respond to another uncharitably, but rather, promote the Catholic theological tradition through rigorous academic inquiry, effective pastoral practice and reflection, and a vibrant prayer life! I wish you well in your pursuit of theological education. Be generous with the time and effort that you apply to your studies. God will never disappoint you!

With a prayer for blessings upon your faith-filled journey,

Sr. Zoe Bernatsky, VP & Academic Dean

Online Learning Basics

About Online Courses

Quality Online Learning

Undertaking a distance-learning program does require a different approach to your learning experience.  This is an asynchronous learning experience. This means you can respond to the various elements of the course at any time.  Unless you are involved in a chat room or audio bridge, you cannot ask questions and receive immediate answers.  Though you do not get immediate responses, your instructors will respond within 48 hours to your work. This environment allows you to have more time to digest the information, formulate your questions and then evaluate the instructor's responses.

You are responsible for both sharing your thoughts and also reflecting on the other class participant's insights.  You can ask other participants questions either on the discussion board or by sending them a direct e-mail message.  You can send the facilitator of your course a direct e-mail message if you have a personal question or concern.

Is an online course right for me?

Distance Education courses are every bit as challenging as traditional courses. In order to succeed in a Distance Education course, you must be self-motivated and be able to work well independently with minimum supervision. You do not see your instructor regularly, so you must be able to manage your time effectively and stay on track with your coursework. You also need strong reading and study skills. Detailed information about the skills and equipment you need to be successful in an online course are on this webpage.

You can also take this short Self Assessment Test

How does an online course work?

Students in online courses communicate with their instructor and classmates electronically via a course website. The instructor posts such things as lectures, assignments, announcements, and other information to the site. The class may respond with questions, comments, etc.

Will I be required to attend class meetings on campus?

Most of our online courses do not have class meetings on-campus.  It is best to check the course outline for each course to learn what is expected.  We do offer hybrid courses which are comprised of both online and on-campus requirements, normally these courses are indicated with an "H" following the course number.

Course Management Systems (CMS)

Most of our online instructors use Moodle to communicate with their students.  The Registrar will provide you with information about the program at the start of the semester.

How do I enroll?

Register for our courses just as you would for a regular course. Visit Admissions for more information.

 

Technical Skills and Equipment

Technical Skills and Equipment

Online students must have at a minimum:

Equipment:

  • Regular access to the Internet and a computer (either a PC with Windows and a Pentium processor or a Macintosh with at least system 9.0)
  • A recent version of a web browser such as Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Explorer, or Safari.  The Course Managements Software works best with the Firefox browser.
    An Internet Service Provider (dial up access will not be sufficient for online courses.)
  • An email address (NTC provides an email address if you do not have one.)
  • Current word processing software as required by the instructor such as MS Word or Apple Pages, Acrobat Reader, and Skype

Technical skills:

  • You should know how to use a web browser to navigate the web to locate educational resources and download files.
  • You will need the files management skills necessary to create directories, to save files and to retrieve files.
  • You will need to know how to attach files to an email.
  • You will need to know how to cut and paste text from one application to another.
  • You will need to know how to use word processing software such as Word or Pages.
  • You will need to know how to create an account in an online application.

Some courses may have additional requirements.

ToOLS: Test of Online Learning Success

ToOLS: Test of Online Learning Success

Use this self-assessment to gauge your readiness for online learning. The following four characteristics are common for successful online students: 

  • Basic technical and academic skills 
  • Ability to study independently 
  • Good organizational skills 
  • Willing to devote the same amount of time and effort as a face-to-face course

http://cs.txwes.edu/tools/

Online Student Readiness Tutorials

Online Student Readiness Tutorials

The Online Education Initiative (OEI) has developed the Online Student Readiness Tutorials, a series of interactive multimedia tutorials that address the real challenges experienced by online students, new and experienced, while pursuing success in online classes. Therefore the goal of these tutorials is to assist students with developing the skills required to be successful in an online course.

ONLINE TUTORIALS

Introduction to Online Learning Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File
Getting Tech Ready Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File
Organizing for Online Success Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File
Online Study Skills and Managing Time Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File
Communication Skills for Online Learning Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File
Online Reading Strategies Multi Media Presentation Text Only Audio (MP3) File

INTERACTIVE TOOLS

Creative Commons License Logo

 Creative Commons License Info:

© 2016 Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. They are available to everyone and may be repurposed to meet the unique needs of educational institutions.

Basic Netiquette for Online Classes

Basic Netiquette for Online Classes

By Deana L. Molinari

Postings to the discussion boards require a polite behavior or the learning process breaks down, people’s feelings are hurt, and your grade may be impacted. Polite online behavior is called “netiquette”. The following guidelines are basic to this class.

Emotions:
Research with online groups indicates that emotions are strongly felt in cyberspace. People take a long time to mull over messages they feel are rude, inflammatory, or even questionable. People may interpret messages as hurtful and react to them in a defensive manner. Watch how you express your emotions and humor within the mail. Due to the lack of vocal and nonverbal clues to our speech here, we often need something extra to read into a message what was intended. Cultural and ability differences impact the online group. Don't get involved in flame wars. Neither post nor respond to incendiary material.

Spelling and Punctuation:
College level communication skills are expected in all messages. Use correct punctuation and spelling. Use the spell check for messages. Longer messages are best constructed in a word processor, spell checked, and then pasted into the discussion board. Some students have experienced the loss of long messages and find the practice of building their arguments offline first allows more creativity, less online time, and safety. Break messages down into short paragraphs for easier electronic reading.

Manners:
When joining a group politely listen to others. See if there are any Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that pertain to communications, read these before contributing. Follow all guidelines given. Do not assume that others are interested in the same TV, geographical jokes, etc. Keep postings to the point. Keep your comments relevant to the topic of discussion. Validate other members’ ideas and efforts. Research indicates that groups that validate more have better outcome products (Molinari, 1999). Use critical thinking skills while validating. Messages that contain “Way to go” “Right on” or a simple “Wow!” require a lot of time to download and do not contribute to the group process. Comments mentioning why something is appreciated are more valuable. Do not use acronyms unless they are common to the class.

Strategies to promote problem solving:

The ignoring strategy: The ignoring strategy is used in conjunction with the democratic decision-making process. The ignoring strategy states that students need not feel compelled to reply to every message. Sometimes ignoring a statement you disagree with while producing your own thesis and supporting statement is more useful to a group. This strategy saves time by avoiding arguments. This saves hurt feelings by avoiding inflammatory talk. Alternative ideas are appreciated online, differences of opinion produce growth, but anger and hostility block learning (Martinez, 1999). Putting another’s ideas down is considered unprofessional. In other words, professionals disagree by showing why they disagree, not by picking fights. Netiquette requires individuals to respond sensitively to others.

The democratic decision-making process: You may want to structure your ideas using the following strategy found in successful groups. Begin your message with a thesis statement and follow up with supporting statements. Then ask for other’s feedback. Be willing to listen to the replies. Provide clarifications and expansions.

Build a supporting culture: Consider the larger group whenever communicating. Watch your speech that it does not belittle or inflame. Many habits used in face-to-face speech hurt online. Address individuals at times as well as the group. Consider each other’s feelings and life experiences. Show respect by agreeing to disagree. Do not feel inclined to beat down ideas. A person is attached to that idea somewhere. Remember that people may not read the message until the middle of the night, or at their most vulnerable time and may not possess tolerance. The essence of successful group culture is validation while problem solving

Keep the discussion to the discussion board: Discuss class issues on the discussion board. Individual messages can be sent via e-mail when they do not pertain to the group, but the temptation is to problem solve outside the online group. When this occurs, the instructor cannot give you credit for your participation, and someone in the group may be left out of the conversation. Information sharing about issues outside the group can enhance the community of scholarship if the learning environment is maintained on the discussion board.

Quotes: Report your sources. Watch out for copyright infringement. It is professional behavior as well as the law.

Subject Line: Use the subject line to organize or file discussion topics.

Replies: Give a short indication of what you are replying to. Otherwise a person may not know how your remarks fit into the discussion. Often learners read several messages and reply with one message. Summarize the topics you are replying to and then reply.

Reading and Posting: Read messages from the first to the last in a thread before responding to them. If everyone does this then a common development of the discussion can be traced. Each person reading and responding using different messages produces cross effort, confusion, and duplication of effort. Find authoritative resources and use them in your replies and initial postings. This is professional behavior, the learning culture, and netiquette.

Setting your Learning Expectations

Setting your Learning Expectations:

  • You do not have a specific time you need to participate in each class session.
  • There is particular work for each week.
  • You do need to maintain a strict schedule of reading, participation, and assignments.
  • Avoid procrastination.
  • You are somewhat responsible for your own learning even though you are engaged with a facilitator and other participants in the course.
  • The following checklist may assist you in preparing for and successfully completing each session:
    • Purchase all class materials well in advance. Course outlines will be available at www.newman.edu one month before the course begins which contain the book list.  Some of the readings are on line. Books can be purchased or ordered from our bookstore or online.
      We encourage students to purchase their books from the NTC bookstore. Call to order at 780-392-2457.
    • You will receive a Course Information e-mail with login details before the course begins.
    • Be thoroughly familiar with the syllabus and course structure.
    • Check the Internet often for weekly updates and other participant's contributions to the discussions.
    • It is best to log into the online course once a day to feel comfortable with the process.
    • Familiarize yourself with your course facilitator. She/he is there to support you in your learning.
    • Note all the due dates. The course is paced with specific assignments for each week. The course does have a beginning and end date.

Self-Direction

Self-Direction

  • Self-direction is an integral part of virtual learning.
  • The success of your distance education course is how well you keep yourself focused on making the experience a worthwhile investment of your time.
  • Creating a sense of a 'community of learners' is imperative for the course. This is what makes this different than a 'correspondence course'.
  • Keep in mind that you are an adult learner in search of knowledge and sharing knowledge. It is important to find ways to share new information from additional outside resources - websites, videos/films, or readings (publications). Share these with the other participants in the course.
  • The online course also offers you an opportunity to share how you are or have engaged in teaching and learning about the subject/theme in the past.

Typing in your Comments, Insights

Typing in your Comments, Insights

  • It is important to write clear statements when expressing your ideas. If you wish you can type your comments or ideas in your word processor document and paste them into the message box, if this helps you.
  • Keep your sentences short. Write in simple paragraphs with space between them. This is easier to read.
  • If you are referring to another participant’s comments, it helps to refer to the participant by name.
  • You can always go back more than once to any given section to continue to share your reflections from the readings.  You may even call to the attention of other participants that you have added some new insight into an early class discussion. The more you participate in the course the more effective will be the interaction and learning experience. Remember…this is a new type of adult learning!
  • The advantage of the distance education courses is that it requires you to use knowledge and skills in the context of real life situations or issues.
  • It also integrates the demonstration of multiple learning experiences you have had in the past.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Distance Education?
Distance Education courses are designed for the student who desires flexibility and convenience in scheduling their studies.

What is the difference between online and hybrid courses?
Online courses deliver all course activities over the Internet and can be accessed from a computer with a Web browser (ex. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari). 

Hybrid courses require weekly class meetings; in addition to, course activities delivered through a course management system via the internet and can be accessed from a computer with a Web browser (ex. Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari).

How will I interact with my instructor?
Students in online courses communicate with their instructor and classmates electronically via a course management system via the internet and email.  In our case we use Moodle and Desire2Learn.

Will I be required to attend class meetings on campus?
Online courses do not require meetings on-campus. Hybrid courses require regular class meetings on-campus.

The first class meeting conflicts with another course I want to take, what should I do?
You must contact your instructor via email to receive course information. You must attend the first class meeting if you are enrolled in an online hybrid course. Hybrid courses require weekly class meetings.

Where can I find the instructor’s contact information?
Instructor’s contact information is located on the course outline, on our course offerings pages, and on our faculty pages on our website.

What equipment do I need?
A computer or laptop and high speed internet access. It is recommended that you have a backup source. The campus has computers in the library, learning center and labs.

I don't have a computer at home. Can I still take an online course?
Yes, as long as you're sure you'll have regular access to a computer that's connected to the Internet.

What software do I need?
You will need a web browser, and some courses may require the use of software that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets and/or presentations such as MS Word, MS Excel, MS PowerPoint, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Flash Player, etc.

What kind of computer skills should I have?
In order to succeed in this type of course, you must be computer literate and have experience in computer communication.

What other skills do I need to be successful?
Other skills to be successful in an online course includes a student to be self-reliant, self-motivated, self-disciplined and the ability to read carefully and to follow written instruction. Time management is critical in completing weekly coursework. Do not attempt to procrastinate.

How are examinations administered?
Exams are given on the course management system via the internet. Please read your syllabus.

Will I have to be online at a particular time?
Course Management Systems are open 24/7; however, you must adhere to deadlines for completing assignments, exams, etc.

Will I have to buy books for the course?
Yes, the textbook information will be on the syllabus or on the course management system that the instructor is using.  Our bookstore may be contacted by calling 780-392-2457 or via email at bookstore@newman.edu.

Do Distance Education courses transfer to other schools?
We advise you to check with a counselor at the school you plan to transfer to so you are sure the course will be accepted.

What if I find I can't continue in my course? Can I withdraw from it?
Yes, check the schedule for deadlines or you may contact the Registrar's office.

What do I do if I need help?
It's very important that you get in touch with your instructor as soon as possible by email. If you find you need further assistance, you may call our Dean of Students at 780-392-2450 ext. 2211 or doreen.bloos@newman.edu.

What do I do if I can't access my course online?
Contact the instructor or the webmaster at webmaster@newman.edu.

I have more questions! Who can I talk to?
Contact the Dean of Students at 780-392-2450 ext. 2211 or doreen.bloos@newman.edu.

Student Handbook for Distance Learning

The Student Handbook for Distance Learning will provide information on the following and more.

  • Hours of Operation
  • Student Services (Payment of Tuition & Fees, Registrar, Dean of Students)
  • How to get an email account.
  • How to get a Student ID and Library Account.
  • IT Support
  • Student Counselling Services.
  • Bookstore Services
  • Library Services
  • Financial Aid
  • NTC Student's Association (NTCSA)
  • Course Information
  • Policies, Procedures, and Regulations
  • Contact Information (Administration and Faculty)

Online Course Expectations

Please review the Admissions section on this website or in our Academic Calendar thoroughly so you may understand what is expected of you as a student here at NTC.

Student Accounts

Your student account may be accessed by going to the Student Logins Page.  You will be provided with a username and login at the time of admissions via email.

Research and Academic Support

Obtain the required books you need for your course at our bookstore.

Learn more about the services and resources provided by the Library. Find links to library tutorials and other resources to help you develop library and research skills on the Student Research page.

Online Student Community