Alternative learning begins April 6th

Rio’s distance education programs are designed to give you more convenient ways to earn college credit – especially if you are unable to make regular trips to our main campus. The online learning experience at Rio Grande provides greater flexibility in your course schedule without jeopardizing the quality or personal nature of instruction you usually find in traditional face-to-face classrooms.

Online learning also helps to empower you by giving you more freedom and responsibility for your education, which is a very exciting prospect for many students. So, if you are ready to take control and make the move toward becoming an independent life-long learner, then it is time to get online! Use the links on the right to begin.

At the University of Rio Grande we are continually searching for ways to provide a wider range of nontraditional learning opportunities. Please fill out our survey so we may find better ways in which we can serve your needs.

eLearning - Is it right for me?

Taking an online class has many advantages, including increased flexibility in completing homework assignments, the ability to communicate with your classmates and your instructor from the convenience of your own home, and enhanced access to written materials including Internet resources, saved chats and instructor’s announcements.

However, an online class is not for everyone. For instance, if you need the discipline of meeting on campus several times a week or you enjoy the in-person interaction between other students and your instructor; you are more likely to succeed in an on-campus class. The following are characteristics of students who would do well in an online class.

Successful online students must have both technical skills and study skills.

Technical Skills

You don’t have to be a computer wizard to have the technical skills necessary to be a successful online learner, but you do need:

  • To be able to navigate the Internet
  • To type and use a mouse
  • To know how to save, edit, and open documents
  • To be able to use your RioNet email
  • To know how to attach a file to an email

Study Skills

A successful e-learning student exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Is self-motivated and does not need a lot of direction and motivation from an instructor
  • Is self-disciplined and can budget time wisely to meet deadlines
  • Enjoys the challenge of learning on his or her own and likes to read to learn
  • Takes charge of his or her own learning and is willing to ask questions and get help when necessary
  • Understands and remembers what is read
  • Communicates well in writing
  • Needs a flexible schedule but understands that flexibility does NOT mean the course will be easy

Online Course Readiness Checklist

Before enrolling in or making the decision to continue in your online course(s), be sure that you are:

  • Comfortable with the computer skills required to be a successful online student.
  • Able to learn the Blackboard system quickly and effectively.
  • Comfortable “reading to learn” and monitoring your own comprehension.
  • Aware of where to access resources and support for online learning.
  • Comfortable communicating only through written messages or e-mails.
  • Aware of academic integrity and know what it means to plagiarize or be dishonest.
  • Understand the policy and consequences of academic dishonesty.

Basics for Taking an Online Course

When you register for an online course, you should expect equivalent content and opportunity for learning as students who take the course on campus. Online courses are not “easy” replacements for on-campus classes and they are not for everyone. If you need the discipline of meeting in the classroom several times a week and you enjoy the in-person interaction between other students and your instructor, you may be more likely to succeed in an on-campus class.

How does communication work in an online course?

Communication tools will be available within your online course. University of Rio Grande requires that you use your RioNET student e-mail account, or the instructor may even give a phone number and appropriate hours to call if you need assistance. Communication preferences and expectations will be outlined on the course syllabus or within course information and guidelines provided by your instructor. Keep in mind that many online instructors DO NOT have an office on campus, so it is very unlikely that you will be able to meet face-to-face with some of your online instructors. Knowing how to communicate with your instructor should be one of the first items you get comfortable with in your online course.

Are there deadlines in an online course?

There will be very clear and explicit deadlines for all work in your online course. This includes written submissions, communication on the discussion board or other interactive tools, and tests and quizzes. Typically, course work is assigned either in weekly, and deadlines are communicated in advance. Once you see what work is due for that week, you can complete it at a time convenient for you and submit your work by the deadline.

Do online courses use e-books?

Textbooks for your online course should be obtained the same way you purchase books for your regular courses. While e-books are available from the bookstore, you could still be required to use a traditional textbook for your online course and it is your responsibility to obtain the book before the online course begins. Contact the bookstore on campus to check and order what is required for the course.

What types of things to faculty expect from online students?
  • Very carefully review the syllabus and ALL other information provided by the instructor. It will answer most of the questions you have about the course up front.
  • Understand how to navigate the course in Blackboard. It is very important to become familiar with what is located on each link on the Course Menu.
  • Complete your work on time and meet all deadlines.
  • Actively participate in the course THROUGHOUT each week in course discussions or other interactive activities designed by your instructor. Failure to do so is reflected in attendance reports.
  • Ask questions you have about assignments well before the deadlines. Don’t wait until the last minute to get clarification on assignments. This will give your instructor time to respond and give you time to complete your work before the deadline.
  • Act with academic integrity. Never have someone else complete your online work. And it is extremely important that you cite the sources you use in your written assignments to avoid plagiarism.
  • Be polite in all online communication and correspondence. It is easy to misinterpret tone in e-mails, messages, and discussion posts, and to get frustrated when you cannot speak to someone face-to-face. Be patient and polite in your online coursework.
  • Understand how to use computer software, including saving and uploading files to the web. If you cannot use a web browser or basic software applications included in Microsoft Office, you should consider taking on-campus courses only.

Navigating Your Online Course

On the first day of classes, your first task should be familiarizing yourself with the structure and organization of the course, specifically where everything you need is located. Like your regular courses, each instructor will organize the course differently to meet the objectives and timeline of the class. There are a few items that are common in every class you take online that you will need to know including (1) how to log in, (2) how to find your materials, and (3) how to get help when you need it.

Logging In

You can access Blackboard from the college’s homepage by clicking the myRio at the top of the page.

All students at the time of class registration will be provisioned a RioNET user account that provides authentication and access to networked resources including:

  • Campus Computer Log-in Access
  • eduRoam Wireless Network Access
  • Office365 E-Mail (web and mobile)
  • Blackboard Learning

Know your RioNET Account

All Rio Grande students, faculty & staff are provided a RioNET account which provides login and authentication services for networked services including campus computers, wireless, email, and Blackboard. 

RioNET student usernames are the letter “s” followed by the student’s ID# (s#########).

RioNET email address is their RioNET account followed by (


Login to Blackboard

  • The account used to login to Blackboard is your RioNet Username and Password.
  • Your Username is “S”and your student ID number.
  • Your Password is the same password used when logging in to your University of Rio Grande Email account.  
Using the Course Menu

After selecting a course from your My Courses list, the Course Menu appears on the left side of your course window. It is the cornerstone for the organization and navigation of your course. Your instructor created links on the Course Menu to present your tools and materials to you. Remember that your Course Menu is the way that you will access everything in the course. It is your starting point for all activities.

Getting Help

When you need help using Blackboard or completing a task in your online course, there are resources available to help, including:

  • Students are enrolled in the URG Student Guide to Blackboard course. You will find a link to this course under the “COURSES” tab once you have logged into Blackboard. You can use this course for reference if you have any questions about how to use Blackboard and any of its tools/features.
  • Your instructor is always available to you. Contact him or her using the communication tools provided in the course via RioNet Email
  • You can contact Randy Simpson with anything questions you may have or any other help that you would need by phone Monday through Friday 8:00am – 5:00pm at ext. 7230 or by email

Instructional Design & Media Services (IDMS) Remember, the IDMS Office is a great place to stop for walk-in assistance with your online questions. While assistants can’t help you complete assignments or change instructor settings, they can show you how to access a quiz, post to the discussion board, submit an assignment, or send a message to your instructor. You do not need an appointment to come to the IDMS Office; just stop by when you are on campus for on-demand assistance. Support staff hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. or you can contact that office by email 

Location:  Wood Hall Room 127 (next to the Student Lounge)

Campus Computing & Networking (CC&N) Services provided to the Rio Grande community include the campus network infrastructure, Internet connectivity, desktop computing, computer lab management, and server virtualization, and phones/voice mail. It is our goal to support the campus technology needs of the university stakeholders with effective professional services enabling the faculty, staff, and students to achieve their goals.  Support staff hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. or you can contact that office by email 

Location: Dormitory Alley – Basement of Moulton Hall 


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