Law Orientation Guide 2013

Important information for
newly-enrolled law students*

* Primarily intended for new external students, but ALL students (including continuing ones) would benefit from reading this document.

Contents

 

Internet access – what sort of internet connection do I need?

Dial-up Internet access is not adequate for studying law online at CDU.  You will need some form of home broadband connection, preferably at least 512 kilobits per second. You will be studying law online for at least 3-4 years, and your experience will be much more satisfactory with a fast broadband internet connection.

Fortunately the cost of ADSL broadband has fallen significantly in the last few years, and services may be available for as little as $29.95 per month.  However, that sort of entry-level service has a very low download entitlement, and there are significant extra charges for every megabyte in excess of your monthly allowance.  Given that this is a completely online course, there is a high probability that you will frequently exceed the basic monthly allowance for such an entry-level account and end up paying significant additional charges each month.  For that reason, we suggest that you should consider subscribing to a service with a higher download limit than that applying to the cheapest entry-level broadband accounts. You can get an ADSL broadband account with an adequate monthly download allowance downloads for $59.95 from Telstra and as little as $49.95 from some other Internet Service Providers (ISPs).  We don’t recommend any particular ISP; it’s up to you to shop around and find the best deal for your area (not all ISPs operate in all areas of Australia ).

If you cannot get ADSL broadband where you live, another delivery method known as ISDN is available in most areas and offers faster speeds than ordinary dial-up Internet, although not as fast as ADSL.  ISDN might provide fast enough speeds for satisfactory
usage of the Wimba Classroom, although it is far from ideal.

Law Central website

All currently enrolled LLB students should be automatically enrolled in the Law Central “unit” in Learnline.

You should see Law Central listed as well as the specific subjects in which you are enrolled for the current semester.  Law Central is a general administrative website that we use to distribute information that needs to go to all law students (rather than just those enrolled
in a particular subject).  We send out general emails to all students from Law Central and will generally post copies there in the announcements section as well.  Make sure that you can view Law Central from the “My Units” view in Learnline by day 1 of the teaching semester.

You can also find detailed information about law degree programs, study plans and a variety of other important information in the “degree information” area of the site.  For example, there is a secondhand textbook discussion board where you can buy or advertise to sell old textbooks, not to mention an IT support discussion board where students can assist each other with technology problems they may be experiencing.

Please read this information carefully if you have any questions or uncertainties about your study program.  You may well find the answer there without needing to phone the Law and Business office staff or the Academic Course Co-ordinator.

Learnline

The external LLB programs at CDU are fully online.  All teaching materials for all subjects, and all course/subject information and announcements, are delivered ONLY via Learnline.  No materials are provided in hard copy, by mail, CD or email.  Thus you need to make sure you can access Learnline, and that you are shown there as enrolled in ALL the units you are studying.

Learnline is the repository of all teaching material delivered by CDU law discipline.  For
external students especially, all lectures and tutorials are accessed via the subject sites in Learnline in which you are enrolled.  You should generally be able to access Learnline by the first teaching day of semester, and you should be able to see and access all the hyperlinks to the subjects in which you are enrolled under the “My Units” view (see the “My Learnline” or “My Units” tab at the top left of the screen after logging into Learnline).

Make sure you check Learnline frequently during the teaching semester to keep up to date, for every subject in which you are enrolled (as well as Law Central).

Obtaining a student computer account

Access to Learnline and CDU Library law databases is by user name and password.  Your user name is lower case “s” followed by your student ID.  Your password is generated by creating a basic computer account.  Click here to go to the Student Identity Manager web page and click on the link ‘Activate my computer account’.

When you go into Learnline for the first time, check to see what email address is shown for you.  It should be your (free) CDU email address.  You may change this to some other email address of your choosing if you wish.  However, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that your Learnline email address is a valid one, and that you check your email inbox regularly (preferably daily) for messages.  Most lecturers and tutors send out messages/announcements to students in their subject using the group email facility in Learnline.  It is YOUR responsibility to make sure you can receive those announcements.

Finally, note that your basic computer account password also provides you with access to all CDU Library online law reports and a huge range of other online resources accessed via the Law Libguide pages.

Email addresses

You are entitled to a free email account as an enrolled student at CDU.  Your email address/account will be created as part of the process of creating a basic computer account (see above).

As stressed above, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that you have a valid email address registered in Learnline, and in CDU’s central administration databases.

You are not obliged to use your CDU free email address as your (sole) CDU contact email address.  To add another email address, go to the Student Identity Manager.

Lectures and lecture recordings

LECTURES IN THE LAW DISCIPLINE AT CDU ARE MOSTLY DIGITALLY RECORDED IN THE BLACKBOARD COLLABORATE LIVE ONLINE CLASSROOM FOR EACH SUBJECT.  IN SOME UNITS A MULTIMEDIA LECTURE PRESENTATION IN ADOBE PRESENTER FORMAT IS ALSO MADE AVAILABLE, ALONG WITH AN AUDIO-ONLY VERSION IN MP3 FORMAT, SUITABLE FOR DOWNLOADING TO YOUR IPOD OR OTHER MP3 PLAYER. 

As explained immediately below, tutorials for external students also take place in a Blackboard Collaborate Classroom (see below for more information on Blackboard Collaborate).  Accordingly, it is vital that you have Blackboard Collaborate installed correctly on your computer and that you are familiar with its basic operation before
tutorials start in semester week 2.

You should read the unit outlines carefully for the subjects in which you are enrolled to ascertain the exact delivery and recording arrangements for all lectures, tutorials and seminars.  If you’re still not sure then check with the unit co-ordinator/lecturer.

Tutorials

Most academic units in the law degree include an interactive tutorial component.  In most subjects, there will be one tutorial each week of the semester, usually starting in week 2.  Moreover, lectures in some elective units may be conducted in
“seminar” format with greater student involvement than in core units.  Thus you should carefully check the timetables section* of the main CDU website for available tutorial times.  Generally, internal students attend on-campus tutorials while external students attend online tutorials.  However, there is nothing to prevent internal students from enrolling in online tutorial groups, or for that matter external students living near Darwin from enrolling in on-campus tutorial groups.

*The timetables facility can be a bit tricky to operate at first.  You must select/highlight an option from each one of the numerous drop-down boxes before a timetable search will be displayed.

Tutorials are “workshop” sessions where you discuss problems, cases, legislation etc with your tutor and other students.  In many ways tutorials are the most important component of the learning experience at CDU.  For most subjects tutorial attendance is not compulsory
as such, although in some subjects marks (usually 10% of the total assessment) are awarded for attendance. Nevertheless you are urged to attend without fail if at all possible.  Experience shows that students who regularly attend tutorials do much better than those who don’t.

Nevertheless, we realise that many students have significant work and family commitments and are fitting their studies around those things.  Consequently we have designed the CDU online LLB programmes to be flexible enough to accommodate your busy life.

If you anticipate not being able to attend the great majority of tutorials (or if that become apparent to you as the semester proceeds), you should contact your lecturer or unit co-ordinator and discuss your situation.  It will usually be possible to make arrangements to catch up with tutorial sessions you couldn’t attend in one way or another (e.g. by submitting written answers to tutorial problems and listening to the Blackboard Collaborate archive recording of the tutorial).

Tutorials for external students take place in a Blackboard Collaborate Classroom.  You will find full information about installing and testing Blackboard Collaborate in in this orientation guide.

Generally, tutorials are of approximately  1- 1.5 hours duration.  The problem to be “workshopped” in each tutorial will usually be available on the Learnline site for that subject/unit at least during the week preceding. You are expected to download and print it for yourself and to undertake a reasonable amount of preparation before attending the tutorial.  This will maximise the value of the learning experience.  If you haven’t had time to prepare, it’s still worth attending but you won’t get as much out of it.

Enrolling in tutorials

Have a look at the timetables section of the CDU website to ascertain available tutorial times for each subject in which you’re enrolled. Only the times marked “online tutorials” are available to external students (although this is just for the obvious practical reasons – you are welcome to attend on-campus tutorials if in Darwin ).  Note that tutorials don’t
start until semester week 2 in most subjects.   Accordingly, you have some time to get sorted out and work out which tutorial you should attend.  Many subjects will offer multiple available tutorial times, although that depends on enrolled numbers of
students.  Most offered online tutorial times are in the evenings , because experience shows that this suits the vast majority of external students.

We will attempt to ensure that numbers of students in each tutorial group are roughly equal, but experience has shown that we need to be flexible in this regard.  Tutorial enrolment for most units is via the Groups or Discussion Board facility in the Learnline site for that subject/unit, although check the unit outline and announcements for each unit in case your lecturer has implemented slightly different tutorial enrolment arrangements.  There will usually be a separate tutorial enrolment point for each time offered.  These will be set up by early in semester week 1. There are indicative maximum numbers of students able to enrol in tutorial groups.  This will usually be 30-35 students maximum depending on the teaching approach and assessment regime in individual units.

If you can’t attend the tutorial group in which you are enrolled in a given week (e.g. because of work or other commitments), you will usually be permitted to attend another suitable tutorial timeslot.  However you should try as far as possible to stick with the group in which you enrolled, to keep numbers roughly equal.

Blackboard Collaborate Classroom Information

Blackboard Collaborate is a state-of-the-art online virtual classroom system created by the same software company that produces the main Learnline learning management system. All live online classes are conducted through a Blackboard Collaborate classroom.  Each classroom has a wide variety of facilities, including full interactive audio and high definition video (you’ll need a webcam), facilities for sharing Powerpoint slides, websites and multimedia resources including YouTube and similar videos.  There are also “breakout” rooms which are frequently used by some lecturers/tutors, with students breaking into smaller groups to discuss/workshop problems, questions and issues.

Click here to view a familiarisation multimedia presentation showing the main features of Blackboard Collaborate and how to install it on your computer. Once you have viewed this presentation, you can actually install Collaborate on your computer by going to Law Central >Collaborate Classroom menu (see blue menu buttons at left) > click on a link to one of the rooms you’ll see there.

Collaborate troubleshooting

A minority of students are having real problems with logging into Blackboard Collaborate classrooms and/or getting frequently kicked out of rooms.  While there may be various reasons for this, it is possible that at least some of them may be because your computer is not optimally configured for Blackboard Collaborate (which is more advanced than our previous classroom system Wimba and requires different attributes, software and settings).

Please note that there is an entire section of the Learnline site that provides help with optimising your computer for Blackboard Collaborate. If you click on the “For students” tab at the top of any page within Learnline, you will see that the left column is headed “Check your computer”.  I strongly suggest that you do the following:

  1. Click on the link titled “Learnline system requirements” and read the material carefully to ensure that your computer is suitable to run Learnline generally.
  2. Click on the button titled “Check browser”.  This will run an automatic check of your computer.  If all tests show a tick in the left column you should be OK in that respect.
  3. Click on the button titled “System check”.  Do a screen capture of the result and/or click “export PDF” when the test is finished.  If you then continue experiencing problems with Collaborate, send an email to your subject lecturer attaching the screen capture or PDF. Your lecturer  will pass on to our IT support officer Ken Gibson for diagnosing.
  4. Go to Control panel>system>general and do a screen capture.  Again save the screen capture and send to your lecturer for referral to Ken Gibson if you keep experiencing Collaborate problems.
  5. Another possibility is that you failed to select the correct bandwidth option for your computer when you first used Collaborate (see below). Please check your connection speed setting in the Collaborate classroom.  The Learnline people have advised me that this could conceivably be a cause in some cases.  Collaborate asks you to set your connection speed the first time you enter a Collaborate room but the default is “Cable/DSL” which is certainly too fast for users with either wireless or satellite connections.  If you didn’t change that default this might be the cause of your current problem.  To change your connection speed now, go to Edit>Preferences>(scroll down) Session>Connection from within the Collaborate room.  The Learnline people suggest you select either “wireless” or “ISDN” if you are reliant on a wireless or satellite connection.

With any sort of luck one or more of the above steps may fix or at least greatly improve your problems.  If not, the information provided by 3. and 4. will enable us to help you to resolve teething problems with Collaborate.

Ordering prescribed textbooks through CDU Bookshop

Prescribed textbooks for each subject are listed in the unit outlines found on each Learnline subject website.  Sometimes “recommended” textbooks are also listed.  However, you need only purchase the texts listed as “prescribed”.  However, while Learnline sites for some
subjects may be available well before the semester starts, others may not be accessible to students until the beginning of semester week 1. In the meantime, the  CDU Bookshop has all currently prescribed textbooks listed, so they will be able to advise you what to buy if you tell them what units you are enrolled in.

CDU Bookshop staff should have a record of what are the prescribed texts for all subjects. If not, contact your subject lecturer for this information.

You may purchase prescribed texts wherever you wish.  However we suggest that purchasing through the  CDU Bookshop is probably the easiest, quickest (and possibly cheapest) method, even if you live interstate.

All prescribed textbooks are stocked by  CDU Bookshop.  The Bookshop promises to complete and ship book orders on a same day basis provided orders are received prior to 4pm.  You should generally receive shipped book orders within 2-3 days in most parts of Australia (depending on Australia Post).

Click here to download a CDU Bookshop order form.  You can fax or email completed order forms back to the Bookshop.

You might also wish to explore the possibility of buying or selling secondhand textbooks either through the secondhand textbook sale discussion board in Law Central or via the online national textbook exchange.

Finding out details of assessment for your subjects before the semester starts

For early information on just about any aspect of subjects in which you have enrolled (e.g. on assessment items and subject organisation), you can access the CDU Law and Business Online portal.  This is an open (not password-protected) website containing lots of useful information including copies of most if not all unit outlines for the coming semester.  This will allow you to ascertain details of the assessment regime, prescribed texts and other basic information on any subject in which you are interested.  That information may help
you in deciding which units to enrol in for a given semester (although you should generally follow quite closely the recommended study plan for your degree program as shown in the CDU Course Repository).

Assignment submission

Unless otherwise advised by your lecturer, the normal method of assignment submission at CDU Law School is via Learnline Grade Centre.  You can find various helpful tutorials about using Learnline in general and Gradebook in particular at quicktutes.

There is also a set procedure for seeking extensions of time for submission of assignments.  Generally speaking, extension applications must be made to the Law Administration Office on the designated form, which you can find in Law Central under the menu item “Assignments and extensions”.

Academic support and assistance

For queries and academic support about individual subjects, contact your subject lecturer or tutors (contact details are found in the individual subject unit outlines and Learnline websites).

Individual subjects

Note that for subjects which have external lecturers (some elective units are in this category), you may only be able to contact the lecturer by email or the subject’s Learnline discussion board.  However, all units with external lecturers also have a unit co-ordinator who is a CDU staff member and should be available by phone if you need urgent contact.  The “unit information” area of the Learnline subject website should contain contact details for the unit co-ordinator.

The unit co-ordinator should be able to facilitate your contact with the external lecturer. External lecturers are usually busy working lawyers who come out to CDU in the evening to lecture after a full day’s work.

Wider academic support issues

For more general academic support (e.g. about your overall study programme, illness, study deferral, difficulties with administration, credit transfer for studies at other universities, approval for cross-institutional study etc) you should contact the Course
Co-ordinator.  Course co-ordinator duties are rotated from time to time among academic staff members but the co-ordinator for semester 2 2013 is:

Your course co-ordinator will often be able to assist you quickly and effectively, and will refer you to the individual subject unit co-ordinator if you have a question or problem about a specific subject in which you are enrolled.

We want feedback

Finally, we welcome general feedback about any aspect of the external degree programme at any time.  We are always happy to receive constructive suggestions on how the programme can be further improved, to ensure that you receive the best tertiary learning experience possible while studying at Charles Darwin University.


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