Frequently Asked Questions
Before the Class Begins
How do online classes work?
Each class has its own dedicated private website with links to lectures, videos, assignments, and online discussions. You receive instructions on how to access the website at least two days before the class begins. You can then login on your own schedule each week to participate in the class.
Am I ready for an online class?
Many of our students describe themselves as technological novices, but they quickly adapt to the online class environment with the help of their teaching artist, their fellow students, and Loft staff. You will need to:
Check email regularly.
Access the Internet and find a website using a web address (URL).
Download and open PDF and/or MS Word documents.
Watch online videos.
Participate in online discussion forums, live chats, and other activities.
What are the technical requirements?
You can use any up-to-date browser on a personal computer (Mac or PC) with an Internet connection.
You may also use a tablet or mobile device using the Moodle app (freely available from the Google Play or Apple store). Because of extensive discussions using only a smart phone is not recommended.
How much time does it take?
You should plan to spend about two hours a week participating in class activities. Low-stakes classes take about one hour a week.
Do I have to log in during a specific time every week?
Online classes are intended to be completed on your own schedule. Log in any time during the week to read content, watch videos, complete assignments, and participate in discussions.
Some classes may have occasional live chats so the students can get to know one another better. These are scheduled by the teaching artists, in consideration of the students’ schedules. Chats are optional.
What if I miss a week?
If you miss a week, it is easy to catch up by browsing through the past week’s content and discussions. You continue to have access to the course content about one week past the end of class to finish up the readings and activities.
Are classes private?
Yes, your work in an online class is private to that classroom, and we emphasize that to teaching artists and students.
You have the option of using a pseudonym in your online class.
Once the Class Begins
How do I log in to see my class?
A few days before the class begins you will receive an email with your username and password. If you sign up after the class has already started, you will receive this as soon as we can process it. This is done by staff, not automatically, so please be patient if you sign up at night or on a weekend and do not get immediate access.
Note that your log in information for the learning portal is not the same as your log in information for the www.loft.org registration system.
If the class is beginning in less than 48 hours and you still have not received your log in information, please (a) make sure you are checking the email you used when you signed up for the class, (b) check your spam or blocked mail folder to see if it was filtered out, (c) check your “Updates” and “Promotions” tabs (in Gmail). If none of these work you can contact email@example.com to have the information re-sent.
Once you have your log in information you can go to:
Note that there is NO “www” in this URL.) On the right you will see a login box.
Log in with the username and password provided by the Loft. After you log in you will see a list of your classes. Click the class name to get into the website.
What if I don’t see my class listed even after I log in?
Confirm that the class is open for students if it is before the official start date. If you still don’t see yourself listed, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-379-8999.
How do I change my password?
Follow the “Change your password” link on the Main Menu. You will verify your current password and enter the new one. Go to http://www.makeagoodpassword.com/ if you would like to make a safe but easy-to-remember password.
What if I forget my password?
The quickest way to reset your password is to use the "Forgot Password" link under the log in box. Be sure to use the email address associated with your account. Please not that it can take up to half an hour to receive the email that helps you get back into your account.
You can also use the tech support link on the top right or email email@example.com.
How do I create/edit my profile? How do I add a profile image/avatar?
After you log in, look in the “Main Menu” on the right. You can view or edit your profile by following the link to View/Edit Your Profile. After you follow the link, use the “Edit profile” tab to make changes. This page includes a box where you can drag-and-drop an image from your computer or click to upload an image.
How do I change my email address? How do I show my email to others or hide it from others?
See the instructions above to access and edit your profile. You can change your email address as well as hide it from other users.
How do I stop getting email?
You cannot completely turn off email from your online class, but you can reduce the amount of email by going to "Change Email/Forum Preferences" and indicating you would like to receive a daily digest summary of class activity instead of every discussion post by email.
Another solution is to use your email program filtering tools. All emails from your online class will have a subject line beginning with the course name; if you know how to use your email program's filtering tools you can turn off notifications for those emails, mark them as read, and sort them into a folder. See your email help menu for instructions.
Where's the list of class members? How do I send a classmate a private message?
You can see a list of class members by clicking on the “Participants” link in the People block if the teaching artist has made this feature available. Once you click on the “Participants” link, you will see a list of class members, their pictures if they have uploaded one, and where they are located. Click on a classmate’s name to access his or her email address. Note that some people may have hidden their email from other users. You can send a message directly in Moodle by accessing their profile and using the “send message” button. If the teaching artist has not made this tool available it may be to protect privacy of students in the class.
How do I send the teaching artist a private message?
You can find the teaching artist’s email through the “Participants” link in the People block if it is available. You can also send your instructor a private message using the “Send message” button on his or her profile. The Loft requires teaching artists to keep an email visible and to log in regularly to see messages, however teaching artists will set weekly “office hours” according to their schedule and share these with students. Please check these so you know when you can expect your teaching artist to respond to your question.
Some content is not showing up for me. What do I do?
Some instructors may collapse past and future weeks on the outline, or are developing the course content week by week to tailor it to student needs and expectations. Because of this they may hide some content until it's ready. If you believe something should be visible that isn't, contact your teaching artist.
How do I post to the forum?
You may access a discussion forum by locating the forum on the class outline (the main column on the course homepage, usually organized week by week).
Once you are in the appropriate forum, click on the “Add a new discussion topic” button or click "Reply" to an existing post. This will bring up a discussion box where you can write your message. In many forums you can also add an attachment.
For lengthy posts (such as your own writing, or feedback on another person's writing) it is recommended that you compose your post in another program so you can save drafts until it is ready to post.
Note that you may have errors if you try to paste in text that includes emojis. You can compose a message with emojis directly in the forum, but emojis from other programs often cause error messages.
How can I get/stop getting emails whenever somebody posts to forum?
Click into any forum and you should see a "forum administration" panel on the right. You can usually toggle between subscribing or unsubscribing under that menu. If you don't see a clickable link, the teaching arts has chosen to either force subscriptions (e.g., for class announcements) or perhaps disabled them (e.g., forums where people share personal information). However, see above to minimize the number of emails you receive course-wide.
How do I post my private writing to the Drop Box?
If the teaching artist has made an assignment drop box available, you will see a “drop box” activity on the course outline. This may have a different title depending on the teaching artist; e.g., it might be called "Share your writing here," or "First chapters." The teaching artist may want you to upload a file, submit your text directly, or allow both options.
After the teaching artist has returned your submission with feedback, you will find it by returning to the drop box. If you submitted it as an attachment, the instructor may have marked it up in MS Word and returned the file. In other cases the instructor will simply enter notes and send those to you.
I can’t find the drop box, or I can’t use it. What do I do?
Each teaching artist will set their own schedule for providing critiques, if critiques are a part of their class. For example, an instructor may require manuscripts arrive by midnight on Friday so they have time to read and respond to all of them by the following week. Check the syllabus or drop box instructions to make sure that you meet deadlines.
I don’t have a copy of Microsoft Word. How do I open these files and/or save files in that format?
If you have another word processor, going to File: Open or File: Save As. Most word processing tools do have a Word conversion feature. The most common programs people use other than word are Pages (a Macintosh program), Open Office (a free alternative to office) and Google Docs (a free, web-based word processor). All of these programs can both open Word files and save in Word format.
If you do not have a word processor, consider using Google Docs (docs.google.com) or Open Office (openoffice.org). These are both free to use; the Google option does require setting up a free Google account if you don't already have one.
How do I get into the Chat Room? When do I use the Chat Room?
Access the chat from either the course outline,
In the pop-up window, type your comments into the text box at the bottom of the screen and hit return.
If you find you are all alone in the chat room, check your course calendar or syllabus for live chat days and times. Also make sure you are in the right room (you may have clicked into the wrong week's chat).
I’ve read through these FAQs and I’m still having a problem. What should I do?
You can find technical support at the following URL.
At this link you will find options for telephone, email, and live chat support seven days a week from 7 AM to 12 AM Central time.