Distance Learning Path to Success

How Will Distance Learning Path to Success help me?

Distance Learning (DL) Path to Success is designed to inform you about, and connect you to, the College's

so that you can have a successful start to your Distance Learning courses. We strongly recommend that you revisit the information presented here as many times as necessary.

After completing this tutorial you will be able to:



There are 5 sections in this tutorial. You can navigate by selecting the arrow buttons at the top, the "previous page" | "next page" links at the bottom, or by selecting the section name from the menu. You can also use the menu to navigate from one section to another or return to a section when you log back in after you have exited the tutorial.

After each section, you will be asked to answer a few questions to check your understanding of the material. If you are unable to answer a question, you will be able to return to relevant sections for review.

Note This tutorial will take approximately 1 hour to complete. Keep in mind that you can exit and return to this tutorial. (Please note: Your quiz completions will not be saved if you exit.)

At the end of this tutorial, you should print the following documents for your future reference:

  1. A Certificate of Completion
  2. The pdf DL Student Resource Guide with important links, phone numbers, and email addresses


Section 1: Course Orientation

compass In this section, you will learn to locate your course orientation and identify essential components.

What is a course orientation?

The course orientation is an introduction to the course. You will receive important information related to the course, such as the syllabus, instructor contact information and office hours, and testing and assignment deadlines.

Your course orientation can come in different formats, including but not limited to:

Your course orientation is mandatory and you must complete an orientation to begin each DL class.

If you fail to meet a DL course's orientation requirements, you may be dropped from the class. If you are unable to complete your DL Course Orientation as scheduled, contact your instructor immediately to determine if alternatives are available.


Where is my course orientation?

Refer to your course section's listing in the Course Schedule to find the orientation options and instructions for your class. Here is an example from the Course Schedule:

PHIL 1301 Introduction to Philosophy
54321 - Internet access required. J. Doe, 223.1234, email: jdoe@austincc.edu

MANDATORY online orientation: www.austincc.edu/jdoe during 1st week of class, or attend Sat 8/21 10-11am EVC 2311

If you do not see your course listed in the Course Schedule, check the canceled classes section after registration ends to make sure your class has not been canceled.


Section 1: Course Orientation

What kind of information will I receive in a course orientation?

In a course orientation, you will likely receive the following pieces of information:


Section 2: Study Skills

In this section, we will go over several useful skills to help you become successful in your DL courses.

Here is an overall list. Then we will go over each in detail.

Study Skills: Log in to Blackboard regularly. Most DL instructors post their course materials on Blackboard, which is the course management system used at ACC. If your professor uses Blackboard to conduct his/her DL courses, it is your responsibility to log in to your course on a regular basis. Other than posting course materials in Blackboard, your DL instructors may also require you to complete tasks in the Blackboard environment, such as submitting your assignments, taking quizzes or participating in class discussions. You can easily miss a deadline if you do not check Blackboard frequently. Access Blackboard by clicking the Blackboard link on the ACC homepage or enter the web address https://acconline.austincc.edu/ in a browser

Study Skills: Review the syllabus. The course syllabus not only informs you of the class rules, but also lists the deadlines of each course requirement. You should read the syllabus very carefully before the semester begins and revisit it regularly to make sure that you do not miss any important details. You can download your syllabus from the Course Schedule, Blackboard, the “Faculty Information” section listed under your instructor's name in the ACC directory, or the instructor's website.

Study Skills: Note all assignment due dates and test deadlines. Due dates and deadlines are important because missing one can mean deducted points for that assignment. The best practice is to mark all of the due dates on a calendar, such as the Google calendar that comes free with your ACCmail or the calendar on your mobile devices. As the semester moves along, you will find these reminders a life saver.

Study Skills: Communicate frequently with your instructor. Your instructors are there to help you and they expect you to contact them when you need help. You are responsible for initiating contact with your instructor by following the instructions in your course orientation. Pay special attention to your instructor's office hours and instructions on contacting them outside of their office hours. The sooner you let them know your problems, the sooner they can help you resolve these issues. Don't wait until the last minute to report your problems. You should get in the habit of communicating with them on a regular basis. If you have trouble reaching your DL instructor, contact the Academic Department.

Study Skills: Check your ACCmail regularly. Your ACCmail is the official email your instructor will use to contact you. It is your responsibility to check it regularly even if you use other email addresses outside of the class. There is no excuse for missing a deadline or course requirement if you do not check your ACCmail often enough. Your instructor will make sure you have enough time to respond assuming you check your ACCmail a few times during a week. You can access your ACCmail by clicking on the ACCmail link on the ACC homepage.

Study Skills: Track your progress regularly. Even if you have a general sense of how you are doing in your DL classes, you could miss a deadline or risk being dropped from a class due to poor accumulating grades if you do not follow your progress regularly and closely. As a DL student, there are several ways for you to track your progress. You can meet with your instructor during office hours to discuss your grades, revisit the syllabus and mark the deadlines regularly, visit the “My Grades” page in Blackboard to compare your grades with the points possible for each assignment.

Study Skills: Seek help when needed. You should seek help as soon as you notice a problem instead of seeking assistance on damage control after it is too late. At ACC there are several of resources to help you, such as the DL Counselor, tutors at the Learning Labs, Reference Librarians, live chat with Student Services staff, the DL Helpline, and the DL Help webpage. In the following 2 sections, we will go into each resource in detail. You should pay attention to what services/information these resources offer, their operating hours, and ways to reach them.

Study Skills: Organize. To ensure that you always stay on top of things, you should organize all of your course related materials, such as your papers, files, and deadlines. The more organized you are, the easier it will be for you to manage your schedule. Most importantly, you will not have to waste time finding things.

Study Skills: Schedule & devote time for course work. If you do not want to risk missing deadlines or stay up late at night to beat a deadline, you should dedicate blocks of time for your assignment each day. This habit is especially important when you take several classes a semester, work a full time job, or have family obligations.

Study Skills: Participate in class activities (e.g. discussions, blogs, wikis). You still need to participate in class activities even though you are doing them online. Your class participation can come in different formats: Participate in a discussion in the forums, Attend a web conference, Post an entry to a blog, Contribute to a group wiki, Evaluate your peer's work, etc. Read the instructions in the syllabus or on Blackboard carefully. Make sure you understand the instructor's expectations and rules regarding your class participation.

Study Skills: Connect to the ACC community. Taking ACC classes online does not mean that you should be devoid of social connections at ACC. Other than your classmates, you can also connect to the broader ACC community through several venues, such as student organizations, volunteer programs, Student Life events, performances at ACC theaters. Most of these social events are free to students. You can make new friends through these events, and also have the opportunity to make a difference by contributing your time and talents. You can find information on ACC events on the ACC website. Most of the upcoming events will be showcased on the main page.


Section 3: Academic Support

In this section, we will introduce the academic support you can find at ACC.

Academic Support: Bookstores. You may purchase textbooks, software, and instructional supplies online from the ACC Bookstore for home delivery. You can also try other bookstores, such as UT Coop or Barnes & Noble. However, there is no guarantee that they will carry the items you need. Check with them first before you make the trip. Another option to buy your textbooks, software, and instructional supplies is to order them online. Here is a sample list of online bookstores: Amazon, Course Technology, Barnes & Noble, Chegg Textbook Rentals

Academic Support: Computer Labs. You have access to computing resources on campus to complete course assignments, write papers, conduct research, use specialized course software, search the Internet, and communicate with professors and classmates. Computer Labs can be found on most campuses inside the Library and in Learning Labs.

Academic Support: Libraries. ACC Libraries offer a variety of resources to DL students, such as print, digital, and multimedia materials. If you need digital materials, such as EBooks, journal articles, or videos, you can download them from the ACC Library website. If you are having trouble downloading them, you may call, email, or chat with a librarian. If you need print materials, you can check them out at an ACC Library, check them out at an ACC Center (Fredericksburg, San Marcos), or request to have them mailed to your home address or an ACC Center. You need to fill out the online Document Delivery Request form. This service is free to DL students. You can find the form link on the ACC Library website. In addition, the Library also offers individual consultation with the reference librarian, online tutorials (e.g. Chemistry 1111, The Info Game, Plagiarism and Citing Sources), and podcast tutorials. Visit the Library website for details.

Academic Support: ACC Testing Centers. ACC Testing Centers are located at each campus. Visit the Testing Center website for a complete list of locations and hours. Once at a Testing Center, you need to show your ACC student ID before you can take a test. Refer to the Testing Center Guidelines for a complete list of rules (e.g. retest, take a test after the due date, cell phone usage). If you need special accommodations, contact the Office for Students with Disabilities before you take a test.

Academic Support: Distance Testing. If you are having trouble traveling to an ACC Testing Center, you may be able to have your exams proctored at another approved location. Visit the Distance Learning website for procedures.

Academic Support: Learning Labs. The Learning Labs offer free tutoring sessions and workshops to help you with your homework. Visit the Learning Labs website for schedules and complete details about the services, software, and assistive technologies available at each location.

Academic Support: SMARTHINKING. ACC offers Distance Learning students 5 hours of free access to SMARTHINKING a semester. SMARTHINKING is live, one-on-one online tutoring available in the following areas: Writing, Grammar, Mathematics, Statistics, Accounting, Spanish, and Economics. It also offers an Online Writing Lab to assist you with writing essays and papers in many disciplines. Login to SMARTHINKING through Blackboard.

Academic Support: Complaint Procedures. Student complaints may include (but are not limited to) issues regarding classroom instruction, college services and offices as well as discrimination based on race, color, gender, religion, age, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation. Grade disputes are handled separately. Overall the procedure should go in this sequence: Instructor > Department Chair > Academic Dean > Vice president
Visit the ACC Catalog for more information about Student Complaint Procedures.

Academic Support: Grade Disputes. All course grades are awarded by the instructor of record. At the beginning of the course, your instructor will inform you of course requirements and grading policies. Your instructor shall exercise professional judgment in the application of those policies and the awarding of grades. All grades are final except in the case of college error. If you have a question about a grading policy, a specific assignment grade, or your final grade, meet with your instructor first and discuss your questions or objections. Visit the ACC Catalog for more information about Grade Disputes.


Section 4: Distance Learning Student Help

In this section, you will learn about the different support services available to help you connect to the ACC community, including:


Counselor icon Distance Learning Counselor

ACC offers counseling services to address the unique needs of DL students. The DL Counselor works with you in an academic counseling role, helping you select appropriate courses and decide on reasonable course loads, and answering other Student Services questions about online and distance education.
You may email the DL Counselor at townsend@austincc.edu or call (512) 223.8187.


Distance Learning Helpline

If you have questions about Distance Learning, you may contact the DL Helpline:


My Student Life icon Distance Learning Student Help: Student Life Events

ACC Student Life hosts academic events throughout the year, such as the Nuts & Bolts Symposiums or the ice cream socials.  Almost all of these events are free and they are meant for you to connect to the rest of the ACC community. Through these events, you will not only meet people, but also learn new ideas from the guest speakers or the discussions. A schedule of the events can be found on the Student Life webpage. Below is a photo slider of Student Life events.


DL Help webpage

The DL Help webpage offers quick links to resources such as Live Chat with Student Services staff, important dates, video tips, and information about online student skills workshops. The web address is http://www.austincc.edu/help/distancelearning/


Section 5: Technology Help

In this section, you will learn to use technology help to master essential technical skills to complete your course requirements.


In this tutorial, you have learned to:

You should revisit the information presented here as often as needed.

Thank you for taking this module. You may print the pdfDL Student Resource Guide.

We hope you have a pleasant and successful experience in your DL courses.

You have completed this module.