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Distance Learning

This site contains numerous Blackboard resources along with Garrett College online support resources available for students.

Welcome to the Student Support Page

Blackboard Supported Browsers


Blackboard Browser Checker


Student Responsibility

Online General Information

At Garrett College, we strive to provide a variety of options for students in regards to the course formats that we offer for your convenience and learning success.

Types of Distance Courses

Online Courses: The course work for these classes can be completed anywhere, as long as you have a computer and reliable internet connection. Most courses are taught through the Blackboard Learning Management System, but they can include the use of other websites, software, and email to present material and collect assessments.

Hybrid Courses: These courses are a combination of face-to-face and electronic delivery where approximately 50% of the course content is delivered online. Since a portion of the course is completed outside of the classroom, students can benefit from the increased flexibility, but also have the advantages that come from face-to-face interaction with the instructor since there is a classroom component.

Maryland Distance Learning (Shared Seat) Courses: In rare circumstances, a seat can be obtained from another MOL member institution. These online courses are coordinated through the Maryland Online Consortium. Through this unique arrangement, a GC student can take an online class from other community college member school without having to transfer credits or apply to other institutions. These shared seat courses become part of Garrett College transcript of record. Since these courses are obtained only by request in uncommon instances, they are not listed in the course schedule, may require course material purchases not covered by financial aid, and additional fees.

How does an Online Course Work?

If you're unfamiliar with the concept of online learning, here is a brief overview. Online courses are an accessible, flexible method of attending to college or doing training.

Fully online courses are conducted according to a schedule, with due dates and deadlines, but there are usually no "live" classes to attend. Instead, lectures, coursework, and discussions all take place throughout the week online. You can choose the place to work- at home, at school, wherever you have access to a computer and the Internet. You'll get the same high-quality instruction and course content that your face-to-face course provides, but without having to come to campus for class sessions.

NOTE* You may need to come to campus for orientation, instructor conference or mandated proctored testing.

You will communicate with your professor and other students via online discussions boards and e-mail. The course is designed so that you receive course assignments, complete them on your own time (but with a scheduled due date), and then return them as electronic documents. Your instructor will evaluate them and provide feedback. Many courses will also use, as an integral part of the course, a threaded discussion forum which you can use to share information, collaborate, and interact with other members of your class.

Depending on the course design, you probably will take your tests or exams online. A few course may require that you come to the Testing Center on campus.

How much time does an online course take?

You should expect to spend as much time for study, or perhaps more, as a classroom course since you are managing your own learning using the online information and materials. This requires that you be self-disciplined, motivated, and have some skills using a computer and internet. The content and rigor of online courses offered by Garrett College is equivalent to the on-campus version of the same course.

What the class schedule like?

Online classes at GC follow the same academic schedule as our other classes. Classes start on the day published in the course schedule and you must sign in on or before that date. If you have any problems finding your class on Bb or getting in, email your professor as soon as possible.

Online classes at GC are all asynchronous classes. This means you do not have to be online at any particular time, but you must complete assignments according to the schedule established by your instructor. This is very important! You can work at your own pace, but must adhere to the class's schedule. You will probably have assignments the first week of class, so again, it is important that you log into your class and sign in on DAY 1!

When will my course be available?

Online courses and any other course that uses Blackboard will be officially opened to students on the first day of the semester. Some courses may open early; if you have questions about a specific course, your best source for information is the course instructor. For registration information, check the student portal at http://my.franzjosefhauser.com. If you are registered for an online course that is not listed on your Blackboard on the first day of the semester, contact dlearn@franzjosefhauser.com | 301-387-3155.

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Student Responsibility

Minimum Technical Skills

You'll need the ability to:

  • find, open, save and rename files
  • use your student email and the Internet
  • download and install software to your own computer

Note: you DO NOT need your own computer, but MUST have frequent access to one

You'll also need:

  • to meet the prerequisites and requirements of the course (see course description in the College catalog) and syllabus for more information about each course’s prerequisites
  • to be an independent learner who can manage time effectively

Minimum Technology Requirements

  • regular and frequent access to a computer that is less than 5 years old, speakers (or headphones) and printing capabilities
  • reliable Internet connectivity and a compatible browser
  • a Garrett College student log in
  • additional technological requirements as noted in course syllabi or via instructor communication

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Participation / Attendance

Regular and punctual class participation is required of all students. It is the student's responsibility to consult with the instructor about missed course work. Postings on the online discussion board is tracked and can count as class participation. You will not pass a course without participation on the Discussion Board in courses where it is required or any other online activities assigned by your instructor.

The instructor may also hold Virtual Office Hours for online and hybrid courses. Participation in the Virtual Office Hours are optional.

Garrett College Student Attendance Policy:

The College recognizes that successful student performance in college courses is dependent upon regular attendance and participation. Therefore, students are expected to attend all classes and to participate in all learning activities. Each faculty member is responsible for their class’ attendance policy. It is the responsibility of the student to know and follow the attendance policies for each class.

Missed class time due to obligations such as jury duty, military service, or participation in authorized College extracurricular activities may be considered excused absences. Students are responsible for contacting their instructors regarding all attendance matters. Documentation may be required for any excused absence.

Violation of the class attendance policy could result in loss of points, lower grade, or failure of the course.

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Plagiarism & Cheating

No form of cheating, or plagiarism will be tolerated. These and other acts of academic dishonesty will be dealt with in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Student Handbook and may result in sanctions up to and including dismissal. Students will be familiar with and adhere to the policy governing academic dishonesty and its sanctions as written in the Garrett College Catalog. Students guilty of plagiarism or other forms of cheating will receive an F on the specific assignment and, at the discretion of the instructor, the student may receive an F for the course.

Scholarly Research

Academic research and papers must meet certain standards of quality recognized by the academic community and completed to the specifications of the instructor. What constitutes quality academic research?

  • Primary (original) sources written by experts in the field of study
  • Secondary sources supported by research in primary sources
  • Credible sources (experts in the area of study)
  • Relevant research (materials are pertinent to the area of study)
  • Educational websites may be appropriate in some cases but should be evaluated carefully

Garrett College students are bound by the academic policies outlined in the most current GC Catalog and Student Handbook. It is the student’s responsibility to review these policies prior to the start of each semester.

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Blackboard System and Browser Recommendations

To use Blackboard, your system must meet minimal technical requirements.

In order to have the best experience possible with Garrett’s Blackboard (blackboard.franzjosefhauser.com), please make certain you have a newer computer, a strong internet connection, and up-to-date software:
  • Have a newer computer:

    Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10
    Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or later
  • Have a strong internet connection:

    Wired or wireless internet through a broadband (cable) provider such as Comcast. DSL (e.g., CenturyLink) is not preferred for video playback, web conferencing/chat, and other high bandwidth activities.
  • Have up-to-date software: Internet browser:

    Check the list below, or be extra safe and go to Blackboard’s Browser Checker. See Blackboard’s current list of supported browsers for more info.
    • Mozilla Firefox: the latest version (PC/Mac)
    • Google Chrome: the latest version (PC/Mac)
    • Internet Explorer: version 11 (PC)
    • Safari: version 6+ (Mac)
    • Microsoft Edge: A note on Window’s Edge Blackboard provisionally supports the new Windows Edge browser on Windows 10. However, you may encounter problems in Blackboard and other websites since it is brand new. Therefore, we recommend one of the four proven browsers above. Currently, the Blackboard Browser Checker does not correctly identify the Microsoft Edge Browser.
    • Java SE 8: Verify you are on the latest update
    • No longer recommended

      Google Chrome: The Chrome browser used to offer the option of enabling NPAPI to enable Java support, but the current version of Chrome (Chrome 45 - released September 1, 2015) does not support NPAPI plugins at all and so does not allow Java to run. We recommend using another browser (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari) for content collection file-uploads.

    • Mac OS X 10.8 and later: Java is no longer shipped as part of the operating system and must be downloaded and installed.
    • Adobe Acrobat Reader: Stay on the latest update
    • Microsoft Office 2010 or later: Specifically: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Garrett College offers Microsoft Office 365 to all students.... Learn more
    • Adobe Flash: Stay on the latest update
    • Media player:

* Check Firefox Version - Select "Check for Updates..." from the Help menu

* Check Java Version - http://www.java.com/en/download/help/testvm.xml

* Download Java - http://www.java.com/en/download/index.jsp

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Browser Settings Guide for Blackboard (Java, Cookies & Popups)

  • Enable JavaScript
  • Enable Cookies
  • Enable Popup Windows

Enabling JavaScript

  • Internet Explorer

    1. Find the tool button, select the "Internet Options".
    2. Click on the "Security" tab. Make sure the "Internet" globe icon is highlighted.
    3. Click on the "Custom Level..." button to bring up the security options for your browser.
    4. Search through the menu for the "Active scripting" option.
    5. Make sure "Enable" is selected. Click the "OK" button.
    6. Close this window and restart the browser.
  • Firefox

    Click here for Firefox enable JavaScript detailed settings.
  • Chrome

    1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
    2. Select "Settings".
    3. Click "Show advanced settings".
    4. In the "Privacy" section, click "Content settings" button.
    5. Search through the "JavaScript" option.
    6. Enable "Allow all sites to run JavaScript (recommended)". Click "Done" button.
    7. Close the Settings tab and "refresh (F5)" the page.
  • Safari

    1. Go to and select the "Preferences..." option in the "Safari" menu.
    2. Click on the "Security" icon in the top row of preference options.
    3. Under the "Web Content:" category, make sure the "Enable JavaScript" box is checked.
    4. Close this window and click the "Reload" button of the page requiring Java script.

Enabling Cookies

  • Internet Explorer

    1. Click the tools button, and then click "Internet Options".
    2. Click the "Privacy" tab, click "Default" button if it is available.
    3. Click the "OK" button.
    4. Close this window and restart the browser.
  • Firefox

    Click here for Firefox enabling cookies detailed settings.
  • Chrome

    1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
    2. Select "Settings".
    3. Click "Show advanced settings".
    4. In the "Privacy" section, click "Content settings" button.
    5. Search the "Cookies" option.
    6. Enable "Allow local data to be set (recommended)". Click "Done" button.
    7. Close the Settings tab and "refresh (F5)" the page.
  • Safari

    1. Pull down the Safari menu, select "Preferences".
    2. In the Preferences window, select the Security icon.
    3. Next to "Accept Cookies", click to select "Always".
    4. Click Close and restart the browser.
    5. Enabling Popup Windows

Enabling Popup Windows

  • Internet Explorer

    1. Click the tools button, and then click "Internet Options".
    2. Click the "Privacy" tab, deselect "Turn on Popup Blocker" option.
    3. Click the "OK" button.
    4. Close this window and restart the browser.
  • Firefox

    Click here for Firefox enabling popup windows detailed settings
  • Chrome

    1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
    2. Select "Settings".
    3. Click "Show advanced settings".
    4. in the "Privacy" section, click the "Content settings" button.
    5. In the "Pop-ups" section, select "Allow all sites to show pop-ups." Click "Done" button.
    6. Close the Settings tab and "refresh (F5)" the page.
  • Safari

    1. Choose Safari > Preferences, and then click Security.
    2. Make sure these checkboxes are selected: Enable plug-ins, Enable Java, and Enable JavaScript.
    3. Make sure this checkbox is not selected: “Block pop-up windows.”

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Discussion Board Guide for Students

Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; argument an exchange of ignorance
once said Robert Quillen, an acclaimed journalist, who was also a discussion specialist.

Netiquette Guidelines

Adapted from the article, “10 Tips for Online Discussions”, by Christoforus Papp

There is an appropriate netiquette for interaction in the online environment. These tips for online discussions will help you effectively interact with your virtual classmates when writing is the only communication means that you have.

  1. Use proper language.

    Typos, spelling errors, and mixed up sentences reflect on you; correct spelling and grammatical construction are a must, so keep in mind to read through your posts before you submit them. Moreover, try to avoid slang words as much as possible, as this is also an online education environment and slang is considered neither academic, nor professional. Finally, never type in all caps; writing in all capital letters is regarded as shouting, and this, apart from being annoying, it could be considered rude.
  2. Be precise.

    Being misunderstood is quite common in online interactions; escape the miscommunication trap by double checking that what appears perfectly clear to you is not confusing your readers. The best way to test your messages for clarity is to read them aloud before you send them; this way, you will be able to see if they make sense.
  3. Avoid emoticons and “texting” writing.

    Using emoticons and writing in “texting” language, that is by using abbreviations, might be considered too casual or even childish; refrain from them as much as possible. Online discussions require professional writing; smiley faces or linguistic shortcuts are more appropriate for chatting with your friends or instant messaging.
  4. Be explanatory. Justify your opinion.

    Points can be easily missed if hidden in a flood of text; when making a thorough comment, be as brief as possible. If you have several points you want to develop, prefer to post them individually in more than one focused messages, rather than in a long, overly wordy paragraph. However, avoid posting messages that contain only a few words and generic statements, such as “I agree with you”. Keep in mind that you need to contribute to the online discussion, so remember to always justify your points of view.
  5. Read all comments before hitting “submit”.

    What you need to remember when participating in an online discussion is that once you send your comment, there is no way to take it back. This is why you should always think about the content of your message before contributing it. Before replying to a question, read carefully all comments that your peers have already posted, no matter how many they are. If you don’t, it is very likely that you will end up repeating things others have already said, and this, apart from contributing nothing new to the online discussion, will seem like you ignore your virtual classmates. Once you have ensured that your comment will indeed add a new element to the online discussion, try to explain yourself as clearly as you can. If your post is still misconstrued, correct the misunderstanding right away.
  6. Tone down your language.

    Because written language lacks the support of facial or voice communication clues, it can be easily misinterpreted. A great way to deal with this is to tone down your language; avoid the use of strong words and, again, read aloud everything you want to post before you send it. Moreover, try to avoid humor and sarcasm completely, as they can both easily create misunderstandings and tension.
  7. Recognize and respect diversity.

    One of the great beauties of online courses is that you can meet people from all parts of the world, as internet is a global medium. This means that while participating in an online discussion you and your virtual classmates may use the same language to communicate with each other, but the truth is that cultural backgrounds, linguistic terminology, and abilities to express oneself in written language may vary significantly in an online learning environment. If your virtual classroom is a typical one, it will be ethnically rich and multicultural. This is why it is important to respect diversity and opinions different from yours, no matter where they come from. It is ok to disagree with a point of view, but it is definitely inappropriate to disrespect and be offensive towards others. Being open to different points of view is a sign of intelligence; furthermore, paying attention to alternative viewpoints is one of the greatest ways to learn. Needless to say, profanity, and racist, sexist, ageist, and religious comments are unacceptable, no matter how innocent or “funny” may sound to you. On the other hand, if you are the victim of an insulting remark, try to maintain your calm and resist returning the offense. Rather, report the issue directly to your eLearning course instructor.
  8. Control your temper.

    In addition to the previous tip, you may be respectful, but others may be not. When being personally attacked on the web, it is easy to get angry. But you won’t win any argument if you lose your temper; tantrums lead nowhere. Instead, take a deep breath and count to ten; if needed, get away from your computer and go for a walk around the block before you reply. This way you will ensure that, while being calmer, you can argue the point instead of attacking the person who made it. More often than not, a bit of thinking and a bit of time result in more rational and coherent responses.
  9. Take your posts seriously.

    Participating is the number one rule for online discussions, but posting for the sake of posting wastes other people’s time. Always remember to add something new to the conversation and not repeat something that someone else has already said. Most importantly, stay on topic. Irrelevant tangents confuse your peers and make you seem that you don’t know what you are talking about; make sure that every comment you post stays within the scope of the online course material. If you are looking for simple social interaction with your virtual classmates, check if there is an off-topic discussion area in the online forum.
  10. Be credible.

    Finally, be careful not to mislead people when replying to a question. If you are not a 100% sure of your answer, say so. And if you are using the intellectual property of others, e.g. websites, books, blogs, journal articles etc., to support your argument, always cite your sources. Assigning proper credits when referencing other sources is a sign of being a respectful, responsible, and trustworthy online discussion participant.

All in all, never say online what you wouldn’t say in real life and to another person’s face

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Email and Communication Guidelines

  • Always communicate with your instructor and other college personnel using your Garrett College email account (USERNAME@students.franzjosefhauser.com).
  • Mail should have a subject heading which reflects the content of the message and the class you are in.
  • Be professional and respectful. Do not write in an email anything you would not say in person.
  • Be brief without being overly terse. When replying to a message, include enough original material to be understood but no more.
  • Do not use texting language and limit use of slag.

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Disability Support Services

Disability Support Services is dedicated to helping students with documented disabilities access all of the educational opportunities and services offered by the College. Students with a documented disability are responsible for contacting Disability Support Services at 301-387-3749 to discuss their needs for accommodations and schedule an appointment.

Visit the Disability Support Services website.

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Blackboard Accessibility Office

Visit the Blackboard website for software specific accessibility information.

Blackboard measures and evaluates accessibility levels using two sets of standards:

  • Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act issued from the United States federal government and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) issued by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
  • Blackboard has fully implemented accessibility standards for electronic and information technology covered by Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998.
  • The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) recently awarded Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 with an accessibility certification, stating that the new release was the most accessible learning system they had ever rated.

Blackboard Learn Videos

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Privacy Statements

Below are Privacy Policies for some of the systems that may be used while you take an online course.

Some of GC's web pages may contain links to other, third party web sites that are external to "franzjosefhauser.com" and "blackboard.franzjosefhauser.com”. Please be aware that these outside domains are controlled by third parties and we are not responsible for the information contained on their web sites, nor the privacy practices on these third party web sites. You should review the privacy policies posted before accessing and using these third party web sites.

Any links to other Internet websites of non-affiliated external sources does not imply endorsement by Garrett College of any products, services or information presented in these external Internet websites, nor do we guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them. In addition, since we have no control over the privacy practices of linked external Internet websites you should read and understand the policies of all linked external Internet websites with respect to their privacy practices.

Have a resource privacy statement you want listed? Email the privacy policy/statement link to dlearn@franzjosefhauser.com