Pre-Online Test

SouthArk wants you to be successful in any online classes you might take.  Success is much easier if you have basic computer skills and know more about online classes before enrolling.  This Pre-Test is designed to help you determine if you have the technology skills and knowledge you need to succeed in online classes. 


Please follow these directions carefully.  You will be asked to do certain tasks in a very specific way. 


1.  Online classes often require that you create written assignments and submit them to your instructor as an attachment. 


a.    Please open a blank document using whatever word-processing software you have on your computer.

b.    Type your name, address, phone number, and email address into the document.

c.  Type the name of your computer's operating system and your web browser and version.

d.    Save the document.


2.  Using whatever email system you normally use, create a new email message.  Put tpatterson@southark.edu in the To line, and Online Learning Pre-test - Your Firstname Lastname  in the Subject line.  Attach the document you just created in Step 1 to this email.


3.  Open the file given below.  Copy and paste what you find there into the body of the email message. 


 Copy and Paste Example


4.  Read and respond to the following statements.  Each statement talks about some basic requirements for online students, and will help you evaluate your expectations for online learning.  Put your answers into the body of the email also.  Please put the item letter before each answer.

a. Online classes cover the same content as a face-to-face class.  Although they are more convenient, they are not easier and may even take more time than a regular on-campus class because of all the reading and writing involved.  If necessary, would you have extra time to devote to an online class?


b. Online classes at SouthArk are not self-paced, and almost every online class has frequent due dates for assignments, just like a regular class.  Are you good at keeping track of due dates and getting things done on time?


c.  Although your instructor will be in the class frequently to guide and assist you, online classes often require you to work independently without immediate feedback.  Are you comfortable working on assignments without having an instructor available to immediately answer questions?


d. Almost every online class requires that you check-in frequently during the week to submit assignments, check email, and interact with your classmates.  Do you have time to get online and into the class at least 3-4 times each week?


e. Online classes require a lot of reading, and you must be able to understand what you read without direct explanation from the teacher.  Is this something that would be easy or hard for you?


f. Online classes require you to have easy access to a computer, and high-speed Internet* is highly recommended.  Would you have both of these things if you took an online class?   



    - A Dial-up connection [56k modem] will run very very slowly for online classes, and is not recommended.

    - Wireless cards from a cell-phone provider [like Cricket or Verizon] or satellite internet [like Hughes] do not always have the speed or reliability needed for online classes.  It is possible to take online classes with these types of internet service, but you may experience connection problems when uploading or downloading large files, loss of service during storms, etc. -- so you should have an alternate way to connect to the internet if this occurs.

    - Attempting to regularly use your cellphone to do the online classwork is not a good idea because many of the functions inside Blackboard will not work with your phone.


5.  After doing all the items above, send the email.  You will get a reply back as soon as possible.   





Choose one:


If you have any other questions about online learning at NWACC, please contact the Distance Learning Department at tpatterson@southark.edu.


























If you had difficulty performing any of the tasks requested above, or have hesitations about the basic requirements for taking an online class, you will need to consider carefully if online classes are right for you. 


If you had problems with the technical tasks above, you might want to take a class called Computer Basics.  Speak to your advisor.



If you have any other questions about online learning at SouthArk, please contact the Distance Learning Department at tpatterson@southark.edu






























If you were able to perform the above tasks easily and feel well prepared for the requirements of online learning, you can find distance learning classes in the SouthArk class schedule.


Speak to your counselor about enrolling in distance learning classes.


If you have any other questions about online learning at SouthArk, please contact the Distance Learning Department at tpatterson@southark.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains some frequently asked questions about Distance Learning and online courses at SouthArk. Please refer to this first when you have questions. If you can not find the answer to your question here, contact the Distance Learning Department.

1.  Admissions and Registration

1.1 - Is online learning right for me?

1.2 - Take the Online Learning Pre-Test

1.2 - I’m a student at another school and want to take some courses that I can transfer to my college.  How do I get admitted and registered?

1.3 - What do I need to do after I register for my online course(s)?


2. Classes and Degrees

2.1 - How do I find out what classes are available online?

2.2 - What degrees are available online?

2.3 - What do I need to know about being a Distance Learning student?


3. Compressed Interactive Video

3.1 - How do I go about renting the Interactive Videoconference room?

3.2 - Can I take an Interactive Video course from home?

4. Blackboard Support

4.1 - How do I log into Blackboard?

4.1.1 - How do I log into Blackboard if My SouthArk Connection is down?

4.2 - What other online systems might be used for online courses?

4.3- When can I start my online course for next semester?

4.4 - How can I protect myself from losing work if there are techical problems.

1.  Admissions and Registration

1.1 - Is online learning right for me?

Online courses require four things for success:


1. Motivation – You need to be able to motivate yourself to complete your work and stay on schedule.  Procrastination in an online course is a recipe for failure.

2. Organization – You need to be able to organize your time to work on your online course.  Even though you won’t be meeting in a classroom, online students can reasonably expect to spend 6-9 hours a week on each 3 hour class.  You need to organize your time to be able to do the work necessary, and also to have quality, undistracted time in which to work.

3. Communication – You need to stay in contact with both your instructor and your classmates to be successful in an online class.  The vast majority of SouthArk’s online courses are designed for this kind of dialogue, so you should be regularly communicating in the course.  Don’t be afraid to go beyond the minimum required communications as that will increase your study and discussion of the subject matter and improve your learning experience.

4. Internet Connection and Skills – Students need tohave a high-speed internet connection    Students should have access to a computer at home or regular and consistent access to one elsewhere.  Home access is strongly recommended.  Students entering an online course should know how to browse the internet, send e-mail with attachments, word process documents and save them in different file formats, and fill out forms online.  Students should know how to download and save files as well as install software.

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1.3 - I’m a student at another school and want to take some courses that I can transfer to my college.  How do I get admitted and registered?


You should first confirm with your advisor at your regular school that the courses you take here would be transferable to that school.  Once you have done this, you will apply for admission, be advised, and register, just as any other online student at SouthArk would. 


Specific details as to how the process works can be found HERE and HERE.

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1.4 -What do I need to do after I register for my online course(s)?


As soon as you register for your online course, you should contact your instructor, preferably by e-mail. There is a Faculty and Staff Directory on the main College homepage.

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2. Classes and Degrees

2.1 - How do I find out what classes are available online?

A general list of Distance Learning classes is located at http://www.SouthArk.edu/disted/nwdeclas.php -- however, this is not always up-to-date. The best way is to use the regular class search engine located here: https://www2.SouthArk.edu/pls/nprod/bwckschd.p_disp_dyn_sched

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2.2 - What degrees are available online?

Currently SouthArk offers two fully online degrees: AA General Education, and Environmental Regulatory Sciences. Please click here for more information. However, nearly all the core courses of many other degree plans are online, too.

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2.3 - What do I need to know about being a Distance Learning student?

Distance Learning students should be prepared for the amount of self-directedness and independence that come with these kinds of courses. There is a certain level of responsibility that students have to have to ensure their success in courses. SouthArk wants DL students to be motivatived, organized, and communicative in their class. Details on each of these traits can be found on the Information About Distance Learning page.

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3. Compressed Interactive Video

3.1 - How do I go about renting the Interactive Videoconference room?

An external facilities request form is needed to reserve the room.  Interested parties should contact the Distance Learning office at (479)619-4299 first, in order to determine the availability of the room, before sending in a facilities request form.  Fees and other information are located at http://www.SouthArk.edu/disted/nwdeuse.php

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3.2 - Can I take an Interactive Video course from home?

No. Interactive Video classes are classroom-based and involve classrooms from different locations being connected.  So, it is not possible to take this kind of class from home.

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4. Blackboard Support

4.1 - How do I log into Blackboard?

Please go to the Student Resources page HERE and read the Brochure: How to Access Your Online Classes.

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4.1.1 - How do I log into Blackboard if My SouthArk Connection is down?

If My SouthArk Connection is not available online, that does not mean that Blackboard is down. The systems are linked but are separate. Blackboard keeps running even if My SouthArk Connection is down.

If needed, you can log in directly at the Blackboard entry page: http://SouthArk.blackboard.com Follow the instructions there about your username and obtaining your password. 

Please go to the Student Resources page HERE and read the information about Blackboard Passwords.

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4.2 - What other online systems are used for distance learning courses at SouthArk?


Some courses at SouthArk may use different online programs as part of their materials. Math courses in particular may use another system.

The best thing to do, particularly if you are taking an online Math class, is to contact your instructor to see which system you will be using.

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4.3 - When can I start my online course for next semester?


Online courses are scheduled to begin on the same date as on-campus courses, and should become availalbe on the morning of the first day of classes.

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4.4 - How can I protect myself from losing work if there are techical problems.

Though it happens rarely, technology can fail, resulting in lost time or data.

Students and faculty can protect their own data and work by keeping backups of all documents for the course. Also, we recommend that students make copies of any discussions or e-mail assignments that they submit for a grade. ALWAYS SAVE A COPY OF EVERYTHING YOU SUBMIT IN THE COURSE.

SouthArk cannot guarantee data can be recovered in the event of a major outage, however rare. We will do everything possible to preserve data, but students are responsible for keeping backups of their individual work wherever and however possible.

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What IS Distance Learning?

What are Distance Learning courses?

Distance Learning courses are fully-accredited courses where, in which instead of attending on-campus lectures, you learn via online course websites, e-mail, discussion boards, and other technologies. Distance Learning courses have textbooks, assignments and tests, just like any other class. They are conducted by regular SouthArk instructors and the credits count the same as any other SouthArk class. There is also no difference shown on your transcript between classroom-based courses and online classes.

The advantage of a Distance Learning course is that you can work on the course and study at the times most convenient to you, allowing for a flexible schedule. This could be especially helpful for those who work during the day, have families, or other life  situations that make it difficult to attend classes on campus.

What kinds of Distance Learning courses does SouthArk offer?

SouthArk offers two kinds of Distance Learning technologies: 

W - Internet: Online courses at SouthArk generally use Blackboard or another online website as the central means for participating in class. Students log into their course online to participate in discussions, read class notes and documents, take quizzes and tests, and send e-mail to the instructor or classmates. But not every single thing is done online -- you'll still need to read a textbook, for example. Also, some of these courses do required proctored exams, where someone is responsible for verifying that you are the person takingthe test, but even these can be done in a variety of ways. The key is that, by working online, you can set the times and days of the week when you will do your work. Also, because the course is online, you can access documents, interact, and communicate in the class, all from your home or wherever you have access to the Internet.

V - Compressed Interactive Video: Interactive Video classes are not like the other types of Distance Learning mentioned here, in that they require you to meet in a specific location, at a specfic day and time, just as you would in an on-campus class. The difference between regular on-campus classes and these classes is that with Interactive Video your classroom is connected to one or more additional sites at other locations, with students who are also in the class.  Cameras and micro-phones allow the different sites to see and hear each other, so students and instructors can both see and hear each other. 

What do I need to know to succeed in a Distance Learning course?

There are three key traits that can lead to success in a Distance Learning course: MotivationOrganization, and Communication.

Motivation: In Distance Learning courses you must be highly self-motivated because you are NOT in a regular class meeting, with an instructor present to keep you on task. Those who put off work on the course and fall behind, will struggle to succeed in these courses. Don't procrastinate! If you can focus on the course and work hard towards the course objectives you will have a better chance of success in this course. Also, don't assume that these courses mean less work. In most cases, a Distance Learning course requires just as much work, if not more, than a regular course, because of the reading and typing required to communicate electronically.

Organization: Because you are not
 meeting at a regular time and place, you must be able to organize yourself and maintain your discipline. If you are able to stay on task and finish readings, quizzes, papers, and projects in a timely fashion, you'll have a better chance of succeeding. Don't put off work or assume that deadlines your instructor gives you are just "guidelines". Turn in work when due and keep up with the course deadlines. Falling behind means you have to squeeze missed work into the time remaining, which is very difficult. Also very important is to keep backups of all work that is submitted for a grade, whenever possible. Make sure you know what expectations your instructor has for you and when due dates for assignments and tests are. Also remember that for any 3 hour college class, a total of 6-9 hours work in and out of class is normal. That amount of time doesn't shrink in a Distance Learning course.

: Keep in contact with your instructor! One of the great things about Distance Learning courses, especially online courses, is that they are designed around communcating. Also, if you have questions or problems that arise from the course, call, e-mail or write your instructor as soon as possible. Your Distance Learning instructors can be reached in a variety of ways and are ready to assist you.

Make sure your instructor knows how to reach you by sending them your South Ark e-mail, a backup e-mail address, and phone number. (You should make sure the College has this on file as well.) Be sure to notify your instructor and the College Admissions and Records office if you have any change of e-mail address, mailing address or phone number. Also, be sure to review the web site or contact us, DRobledo@southark.edu, when you have technical difficulties with your online course. Don't wait to resolve technical issues.


Am I Ready - Personal Skills

Are you self directed?
A good online student will take initiative in asking for help when assignments or information may not be totally clear.

Success in an online class will depend in large measure on how self-disciplined you are and how well you achieve objectives that you set for yourself. If you like working independently and are good at meeting deadlines, then you will do well in an online class. On the other hand, if you depend on other people like a boss, teacher or parent to tell you what to do and when to do it, you will have problems in the more free-wheeling environment of an online class.

If you can determine the steps needed to achieve an objective by reading written instructions, successfully organize your time to complete those steps, and follow through by managing your efforts independently, then you are an ideal online student. You must also be comfortable asking for clarification if you do not understand something. If you are uncomfortable asking your teacher to explain something when you don’t get it then think twice before signing up for an online class.

Personal Habits Inventory

Do the following statements apply to you?  The more “Yes” replies you can make, the more likely it is you will succeed as an online student.

  1. I like working on my own.
  2. I take responsibility for my own learning.
  3. I am regarded by my family and friends as a “self-starter.”
  4. I feel I have pretty good organization skills.
  5. I can stay “on-task” without someone constantly reminding me.
  6. I am curious about many things.
  7. I can set and achieve goals independently.
  8. I have my own opinions, but am open to the opinions of others
  9. I enjoy being challenged, and am motivated by challenging situations.
  10. I like direct, personal feedback.


What can go wrong in an online class?

Don’t fall behind. The biggest problem is falling behind. Some students, for personal or work reasons, neglect to schedule the amount of time it takes to complete their class work.

Stay in touch. Another problem is feeling lost and getting discouraged simply because of failure to ask questions or fully read written instructions. Most instructions you receive in an online class will be in writing.

Finish your work early. In an online class, it is best to finish your assignments early. If an instructor has scheduled a 3-day window in which you may take an online test or upload an assignment, complete the test or assignment on the first day, not at the last minute. Since most of the work in an online class is done entirely over the Internet, and the Internet sometimes fails (lots can go wrong), it is very important to understand your assignments, stay on schedule and finish work early.

Don’t hesitate to ask. If something does go wrong, let’s say you have attempted to take an online exam, but for some reason, no fault of your own, your computer simply froze up and failed to submit your results. You must not hesitate to contact your instructor to clarify the situation and reset the test. Don’t let little glitches become the source of discouragement.

Take responsibility for working on your own. If you have never taken an online class, you may not be used to working completely independently. You may be used to the sort of casual conversation in the classroom or an instructor’s body language to help you “get it.” You won’t have these in most online classes, so you need to rely more on your reading, writing, and questioning skills. If you learn best by interacting with instructors and classmates in person, then an online class will be more challenging for you. On the other hand, the freedom offered by online classes is very liberating.  It does require, however, that you be responsible for managing your own time and efforts.

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