eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center Student Handbook
eLearning Today, Leading Tomorrow
The eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center supports the mission of Laredo College by offering online degree programs and courses to meet the needs of the diverse student population of Webb County and the surrounding communities.
All eLearning courses require students to have textbooks, Internet access, and to complete course requirements online, including final exams, which can be taken from home using a webcam.
If unexpected conditions occur which require immediate action, Laredo College will respond accordingly by abiding to national, state and local governmental edicts in order to maintain the health and safety of students, faculty and staff while minimizing interruption to instruction. Courses may change from face-to-face or hybrid to an online format. Students will be informed of any modifications as needed.
Approved by the Laredo College Board of Trustees – May 7, 2020
Fort McIntosh Campus
Lewis Energy Group Academic Center 307
Phone: 956.721.5211 Fax: 956.721.5873
Judith Zaffirini Library B202
eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center Staff:
Technical Support Coordinator
Technology & Multimedia Specialist
Alicia J. Reed
eLearning Specialist & Analyst
eLearning & Instructional Design Specialist
eLearning & Instructional Design Specialist
Mrs. Elizabeth C. Rodriguez
eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center Director
Lewis Energy Academic Center 307
Dr. Marisela Rodriguez
Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs
Elpha Lee West Bldg. 124
Modes of Instruction
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) rules define distance education as "The formal educational process that occurs when students and instructors are not in the same physical setting for the majority (more than 50 percent) of instruction." Distance education can include courses and programs offered online, off-campus face-to-face, and electronic-to-groups. Coordinating Board rules recognize two categories of distance education courses: fully distance education courses and hybrid courses. A fully distance education course is defined as "A course which may have mandatory face-to-face sessions totaling no more than 15 percent of the instructional time. Examples of face-to-face sessions include orientation, laboratory, exam review, or an in-person test." A hybrid course is defined as "A course in which a majority (more than 50 percent but less than 85 percent), of the planned instruction occurs when the students and instructor(s) are not in the same place."
All course activity is completed online; there are no required face-to-face sessions within the course, and the course may require minimal on-campus activity.
Most course activity is completed online, but there are some required face-to-face instructional activities such as lectures, discussions, labs, or other in-person learning activities. Remember that all course requirements for an online course also apply to a hybrid course.
Technologies are used to extend classroom lectures and other activities to students at remote sites in real time. Students attend scheduled lectures at a designated videoconferencing room that originates at an LC campus, local high school, or other location. The primary difference with this mode of instruction is that several sites may be involved in a simultaneous broadcast.
See "Registration for Online Courses" below for details and examples of online, hybrid, and videoconference courses.
Computer Requirements for Online Courses
A high-speed Internet connection is suggested for best results when accessing Canvas. The Internet browser is an important factor to ensure online courses work adequately during the semester. Canvas requires the latest two versions of every browser release; however, we highly recommend that the browser's flash plug-ins and internet browser is updated to the latest version. To avoid technical issues, we recommend students to use Firefox, Google Chrome, or Safari. Click on the links to view required Canvas browser and computer requirements. Students will also be required to have a webcam to take online exams from home. Students who do not have a webcam can check out one at the eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center by calling (956)721-5211 or by stopping by LEAC 307.
Canvas Learning Management System
The eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center (eLearning Center) is the administrator of the Canvas Learning Management System (Canvas) for Laredo College (LC). Canvas is used to deliver online content for hybrid and online courses, and students can access it through the PASPort Student Portal.
We have all had that experience of loading a backpack for the first day of school with pencils, notepads, campus maps, schedules, and other essential tools. Online classes are different than what you might experience on campus, and to be successful online, students will need their own set of tools. The Virtual Backpack is an orientation course designed to help students better understand online classes and the virtual classroom. It provides everything students need to start a virtual learning experience on the right foot. First time online students will receive an invitation to complete the Virtual Backpack in Canvas one week before classes start.
The college expects all online students to engage in all academic pursuits in a manner that is beyond reproach. Students will be expected to maintain complete honesty and integrity in their online experiences. Any student found guilty of dishonesty in academic work is subject to disciplinary action. The Academic Dishonesty link provides additional information on "scholastic dishonesty" including, but not limited to, cheating on academic work, plagiarism, and collusion.
Student Code of Conduct and Discipline
Students enrolled in online courses at Laredo College are expected to abide by the LC Code of Student Conduct outlined in the LC Catalog. Any student who violates any provision of the Code of Conduct is subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion, notwithstanding any action taken by civil authorities on account of the violation. Consequently, online students are expected to be fully acquainted with all published policies, rules, and regulations of the college, and copies of the Code shall be available to each student for review at the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs.
Student Disciplinary Procedures
Disciplinary action related to online courses is handled informally between the student and instructor or by the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs, if there is a mutual agreement to do so. This agreement will be documented in writing. If a discipline problem cannot be resolved on an informal basis, a formal disciplinary hearing may be requested. Special arrangements may be made for online learning students who do not reside in our in-service area. Consult the Code of Student Conduct and Discipline to learn more about the disciplinary process.
Advising for Online Students
First-time online students can visit the Academic & Career Advisement Program staff to receive academic advisement and career exploration. The Academic & Career advisors assist students with educational and career planning, assessment interpretation, and online course selection. Additionally, online students have at their disposal Email Advising. Email Advising is a web-based advising system that is intended to provide advising to current LC students who can't visit the Student Success Center (SSC) in person. The Registration Guide provides related information on advising, registration, payment deadlines, the academic calendar, and more. Online students can call the Student Success Center (956) 721-5135 to get additional information or support since the eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center does not advise students.
Online students who want to explore a course before enrolling in it can do so by viewing the Syllabus Information website. The syllabus provides an outline of what will be covered in the course of study and provides other pertinent requirements; thus, this process allows students to preview the course content information before committing to an online course. Additionally, the Faculty Vitae provides an overview of the instructor's teaching experience, including their respective educational credentials.
Registration for Online Classes
Students can register for online, hybrid, and videoconference courses through PASPort (www.pasport.laredo.edu). All courses adhere to LC's admission policies, testing requirements, and follow the academic calendar. Students enrolled in online, hybrid, or videoconference courses will be charged a $20 Distance Learning Fee per semester credit hour to cover the costs associated with managing and upgrading Canvas and other online services.
When you are registering for online, hybrid, and video conferencing courses in PASPort, look for the section identifiers, as shown below.
- E01 – E99 (Online courses) ENGL1301E01
- MY1 – MY9 (Main Campus Hybrid courses) KINE1306MY1
- SY1 – SY9 (South Campus Hybrid courses) PHYS1302SY1
- LY1 – LY9 (Hybrid Lab) BIOL1108LY1
- MV1 – MV9 (Main Campus Videoconference courses) GOVT2305MV1
- SV1 – SV9 (South Campus Videoconference courses) ENGL1301SV1
We encourage students to consult the LC Student Handbook to get additional information about advising, dropping a course, the attendance policy, student support services, and other important guidelines.
Authenticating the Identity of Students Enrolled in Online Education Courses
On the first day of class, students will access their course in Canvas by logging into the secure web portal PASPort Personnel and Student Portal (PASPort). The PASPort student portal requires that all students obtain a unique PASPort username and a password account that is generated through the LC Students Information System during the admission process. Students are issued a temporary login password that utilizes the individual's birth date consisting of six digits: month, day, and year. When students log in for the first time, they will be prompted to change their password to one that requires a minimum of 8 characters and consists of a combination of alphanumeric and special characters to increase the difficulty of a login breach to their personal account. Students must choose a password that meets the imposed requirements, is difficult to decipher, is not a common word, personal detail, or a reflection of the user's work activities.
The student's password expires every 180 days; however, they can change their password at any time within this 180 day period by clicking on the Forgot Password Link or from within the student PASPort portal by selecting the "My Account" option on the upper-left portion of the toolbar displaying on the main homepage. Students can also set up secret Questions and Answers in an attempt to recover their password if forgotten. The instructions on this webpage advise the students to come up with responses to questions that are difficult to decipher, all in an effort to prevent intrusion.
PASPort requires that students use the unique account username and password that is given to them by the Enrollment and Registration Services Center during the admissions process. Inside PASPort, students not only have access to Canvas, but also to personal information, like their home address, phone numbers, emergency contacts, tax forms, transcripts, and more. It is important that students create strong passwords, and do not share their login credentials. PASPort accounts are designated for the use of the student that was approved ONLY. Students are encouraged to become familiar with the Security section of the college Internet Usage Policy.
- Each student, employee, or guest with a PASPort account shall be responsible for all use of the account.
- Accounts shall be for use by a single individual – the person for whom the account was
- An employee or student shall not share or give his or her assigned login or password information to
Students are urged not to attempt to read or copy files belonging to others or attempt to decrypt or translate encrypted material unless the files have been made accessible by the owner, or appropriate authorization has been obtained.
Bookstore and Textbook Information
The course syllabus provides required textbook information for online courses. Textbook(s) and other instructional resource materials can be purchased online at the LC Bookstore Website. The bookstore search tool allows students to find a textbook by title, author/publisher, and the price. Students can buy their books online from other web sources and have them shipped directly to their home address. Contact the LC Bookstore at (956) 721-5250 for additional information.
Testing for Online Courses
Students taking online courses, should be able to test without coming to campus. All online courses require the use of Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor, a program that can be downloaded for free from the eLearning Center website at http://www.laredo.edu/cms/Respondus. The LockDown Browser/Monitor program requires a computer with a webcam and microphone to record students testing online. The webcam can be integrated on the computer or connected to the computer using a USB cable. To get a basic understanding of the webcam feature of Respondus LockDown Browser and Monitor, view a short video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuX8WoeAycs. Students who don’t have a webcam can borrow one for the entire semester from the eLearning Center. Students also have the option to come on-campus to take a test. The available locations for on-campus testing can be viewed on our website at http://www.laredo.edu/cms/LECTestingServices/. For assistance downloading, installing, or taking a test with LockDown Browser/Monitor, contact the eLearning Help Desk at (956)721-5880 or submit a ticket at http://ehelpdesk.laredo.edu/.
The eHelpdesk is a self-service portal where you can get help with technical issues related to Canvas and online classes. Students can access the eHelp Desk at http://ehelpdesk.laredo.edu/. Technical support is available after regular office hours and on weekends. You may also call (956)721-5880 to request help during our regular business hours.
Tutoring is available to all students as an online resource, giving access in real-time to tutors who can help with assignments and answer questions. Students can receive live tutoring help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through Smarthinking Online Tutoring, an online tutoring service provided by the Learning Enrichment Center. Students must first log in to PASPort and then to Canvas to find the Smarthinking Online Tutoring link.
The LC Library Services offers online students a broad range of library learning resources and instructional resources such as eBooks, eJournals, eDatabases, Periodical Listings, and the ability to request books or articles from another library, as well as access to eEncyclopedias, Government Information, and other resources. They also have access to the library collection at Texas A&M International University through a mutual borrowing agreement. TexShare services are also available to borrow materials from member libraries across Texas and to access periodical databases. The link How-To Videos provides tutorials on how to access the library homepage from off-campus and be able to find books and articles on the database listings.
The Distance Education link on the Library's webpage has a handy databases Research Guide by subject area, which makes it easy for students to find what they need. Furthermore, the Library has a Mobile App that allows students instant and easy virtual access to all of the library databases, browse the book catalog, periodicals, and more. Online students can obtain library assistance or specific information by sending an email to the Reference_desk@laredo.edu or by calling (956) 721-5274 or (956) 794-4274.
The Special Services Center ensures that all students with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in all facets of college life by providing reasonable accommodations and supportive services. The Special Services Center focuses on being supportive by providing equipment and software to help the student succeed in a college setting. For more information, please contact the Special Services Center at (956)721-5137. The eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center also offers students the ability to test in a private testing room. Please call (956)721-5211 to learn more.
Online students are encouraged to complete a Financial Aid Application online. It is very important to apply early, from January 1st through March 1st, so that financial aid can arrive on time. Students must provide the required documentation to the Federal Student Aid program, LC, and HigherOne by the given deadlines in order to get prompt approval on their Financial Aid Application. HigherOne provides LC students with a debit card that can be used to withdraw financial aid money, quick and easy. For assistance on how to fill out the application, contact the Financial Aid Center via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (956) 721-5361.
Withdrawal from Online Courses
Please contact the Office of the Registrar and Admissions for details on withdrawing from courses. It is the student's responsibility to submit an Add/Drop form prior to the official last day to Drop with a "W." Students who receive Financial Aid Title IV funds and withdraw from LC, may owe a refund to the Department of Education. Students who receive Financial Aid, please contact the LC Financial Aid Center prior to withdrawing from any LC courses.
Students can view their online course progress reports by clicking on "Grades" from the Canvas homepage to open their personal gradebook. This report provides the grade for a particular assignment/exam, the date the assignment/exam was taken, and view any comment the instructor may have made. Additionally, students can use the "What If" tool in Canvas to add a grade to specific assignments or the final exam to obtain an average of their progress or to determine what grades they need to make in order to pass the course. The final exam and overall final course grade can be accessed through the PASPort account under the "Student" Tab. A grade of "I" (Incomplete) will be granted only in extraordinary circumstances such as verifiable serious illness or death in the immediate family.
Course Grades and Transcript Access
Students can view their grades by accessing the Canvas Gradebook in their online/hybrid course or through their PASPort account using their choice of mobile device with Internet access. Grades and other student information such as registration holds, financial aid status, and unofficial transcripts are available on PASPort. Final grades for all courses will be available within one to two days after the end of the semester through the LC PASPort Portal. Official Transcripts can be obtained from the Enrollment and Registration Services Center once specific criteria are met.
Online students who think that the final course grade is incorrect, have two weeks (10 working days) after the grade is issued to appeal their grade. Students who feel that a grade earned in a class activity is incorrect, have one week (five working days) to appeal a grade that has been issued. Online students are encouraged to discuss grade issues immediately with their instructor. If a satisfactory resolution is not achieved after consultation with the instructor, the online student needs to discuss the issue with the division chair as part of an informal process. A formal conference can be scheduled if the issue is not resolved; the Student Rights and Responsibilities Students Complaints section on the LC public website provides the process to file a written complaint.
Complaints and Grievances
Online instructors are not under the supervision of the eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center, nor does it address issues regarding instructional matters. Issues or complaints related to online or hybrid courses or an instructor must follow the appropriate chain of command: Instructor, Department Chair, Division Dean, Vice President of Instruction, and then the President of LC. Please consult the LC Student Handbook for detailed instructions on Students Rights, Responsibilities, and Students Complaints. Students may contact the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs at (956) 794-4988 for additional information.
Family Education Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)
Laredo College is committed to protecting the privacy of traditional and online students by adhering to a Board-approved Student Records Policy. The College President or designee shall develop and maintain a comprehensive system of student records and reports dealing with all facets of the College District program operation and shall ensure through reasonable procedures that records are accessed by authorized persons only, as allowed by this policy. The data and records shall be stored in a safe and secure manner and shall be conveniently retrievable for utilization by authorized school officials. Laredo College shall make a student's records available to the student. The records custodian or designee shall use reasonable procedures to verify the requestor's identity before disclosing student records containing personal identifiable information. Online students can review their records in person during regular business hours without charge upon written request to the records custodian. For in-person viewing, the records custodian or designee shall be available to explain the record and to answer questions. The confidential nature of the student's records shall be maintained at all times. As part of this confidentiality, LC complies with the provisions of protecting the privacy of educational records, establishes the right of a student to inspect and review his/her educational record, and provides guidelines for the correction of inaccurate or misleading data. LC complies with the provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and informs students of their rights by publishing the general policy in the LC College Catalog, the eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center Student Handbook, and the FERPA General Guidance for Students all these documents are available on the eLearning Center webpage under the Student Resources link. Students enrolled in online courses are required to communicate with instructors via email using the LC student PASPort Portal and the messaging system within the LMS which ensures privacy associated with the unique login and password assigned to the student. In order to keep student's grades confidential, online faculty utilize the Canvas Gradebook without the need for emailing student's progress reports to external email services. Furthermore, eLearning Center staff informs students during "live" LMS orientations to accept responsibility for the security of their personal username and password, likewise not to share login credentials with anyone, and to always terminate their personal PASPort sessions after each use.
Graduation from LC
A Graduation Application must be completed and filed with the Registrar's Office in partial fulfillment of graduation requirements once an online student is on the final semester of a degree or certificate program. Consult the Application for Graduation site for additional information on the graduation deadlines and the application process.
The eLearning & Instructional Innovation Center Handbook is designed to provide a quick reference for policies and procedures that govern student conduct and other academic aspects as it pertains to online courses at Laredo College (LC). Also contained in this handbook is important information that LC is obligated by law to provide to its students each year.