Getting Started

Your professors will tell you

Your professors will be getting in touch with you about how they will structure your class, including the what, when, where, and how to do this.  This is the single most important set of instructions you will receive for taking your online classes.  

Get prepared

Whether you have already heard from your professors or are still in the process of hearing from them, here are some general things you can do to prepare:

Take an inventory of those technologies you have at your disposal. 

It's okay if you have all, some, or none of these. We can work with you, contact Bridget Jacobson (jacobsbk@whitman.edu, 509-527-5158) if you have concerns about equipment you don’t have.

  • A computer (laptop or desktop)-- Any “recent” Mac or Windows computer is fine.
  • A smartphone (or any phone)
  • A tablet--  Apple and Android tablets are both fine.
  • Internet access
  • A webcam (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
  • A microphone (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
  • Headphones?
  • Chrome and/or Firefox web browsers --  (Safari and other browsers on desktops/laptops not recommended)

Also prepare:

  • Do you have a quiet place to work?  This is especially important when connecting to a live, real-time online classroom.
  • Is your workspace well lit?  This is especially important when connecting to a live, real-time online classroom, so others can clearly see you.
  • Does your workspace experience wi-fi/internet disruptions that you know of?  If yes, try to find another workspace or make arrangements to work when those disruptions don’t happen.  See Bad internet connections: what should I do? for more information.

Access to course materials

Your professors will give you specific guidance on this.  In general, however, it is highly likely that your course materials will be found in Canvas or other mechanisms like email that your professors were already using in your classes.

Access your library resources and you can chat and contact librarians for help/consultation.

If you’re having trouble with access due to internet connection issues, please refer to  Bad internet connections: what should I do? 

You may have lost certain access to course materials. We’ve partnered with our digital course materials provider, VitalSource, and leading publishers, to launch VitalSource Helps, a program that provides access to ebooks to all Whitman students through May 25th. You may begin accessing these materials today at bookshelf.vitalsource.com.  Further information is available including answers to frequently asked questions.

Your class schedule will depend on how your instructor is going to teach their class online.  Some instructors may choose synchronous teaching and keep with their original time slots. Other instructors may choose asynchronous teaching and not keep to their original time slots.  It is important that you keep in touch with your instructor with any questions that you have about your classes, including schedules.

There are no new fees.

Online class etiquette: what you can do to make your classes be as good as they can be for you and your classmates.

Here are some practical tips for participating in real-time online classes:

  • Be in a quiet space: “Quiet” doesn’t just mean aurally.  It also means visually. Try to be in spaces where you will not be interrupted, and where your environment will not distract others in your class.
  • Always wear headphones.  You will be preventing weird echos and electronic noise in the class.
  • Mute your mic as soon as you join a class session, mute your mic (there’s a button in the app that will let you do this).  Un-mute your mic when you will speak.
  • Wait until someone is completely done speaking before speaking yourself – because when online, we’re missing the visual/physical cues that we have in person that help us know when to speak.  
  • Follow your professor’s lead to know when you should speak and/or use the Chat box.
  • Issues with participating in class:  Be sure you know how to connect with your class sessions, and communicate clearly with your professor(s) if you have any conflict or issues with participating.
  • Establish a regular schedule for yourself (example: Log in every morning and review goals for the day)
  • Similar to an in-person class, SHOW UP online: log into your courses frequently, be sure you know what is due for the day and what is coming, stay connected with your peers and professors (leverage Google Meet, Zoom, Canvas Communication tools, or other tools your professors recommend).
  • Don’t hesitate to create virtual study groups, or opportunities to connect with your fellow peers.
  • ASK FOR HELP! -- we are all in this together!

Technology Questions

No, but there will be some often-used technologies.  These include:

  • Canvas
  • Google Meet
  • Google Docs
  • Zoom

Your professors will let you know what you’ll be using in your classes.

Here’s the gear you will need. It's okay if you have all, some, or none of these. We can work with you, contact Bridget Jacobson (jacobsbk@whitman.edu, 509-527-5158) in the Dean of Students Office if you have concerns about equipment you don’t have.

  • A computer (laptop or desktop) – Any “recent” Mac or Windows computer is fine.
  • A smartphone (or any phone)
  • A tablet –  Apple and Android tablets are both fine.
  • Internet access
  • A webcam (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
  • A microphone (built-in or separate from your computer/tablet/smartphone)
  • Headphones?
  • Chrome and/or Firefox web browsers – (Safari and other browsers on desktops/laptops not recommended)

Both Mac and Windows will work.  Any computer should work, but broadly speaking computers that are less than four (4) years old or less are preferable.  Other platforms like Linux may work, but we encourage you to test these out in consultation with your professor(s).

In many cases, yes.  But be sure to try them and out in consultation with your professors.  It’s possible that in some cases they may not have the functionality needed for your class.

I live on campus.  In my residence hall, there’s interference with wifi when people use microwave ovens and printers.  What can I/we do about this problem?

We are aware of this problem, and this type of interference may be impossible to eliminate.  There is no universal “one solution for every student/room/dorm.” Here’s what we recommend you try if you are experiencing this problem:

  1. Try to find a place, ideally in your room, where you do not experience this interference.
  2. When you find this place, don’t move around with your computer.  Stay in that place.
  3. Turn your wi-fi on your computer/device off then on again.

If the steps above don’t work, try this:

  1. Please fill out our "Residence hall wi-fi woes" form: https://bit.ly/report-wifi to help us help you.
  2. Your room should have an ethernet port in it.  Plug your computer into your room’s ethernet port and use a wired connection.  Turn off your computer’s wi-fi at this point.
  3. Your computer may not have a port to plug in an ethernet cable.  If this is the case, contact Technology Services (see”Where do I get Technology Help” below) for advice on the type of adapter you will need.  If you need assistance in purchasing an ethernet adaptor, contact Bridget Jacobson (jacobsbk@whitman.edu, 509-527-5158) in the Dean of Students Office.
  4. If you do not have an ethernet cable, contact Technology Services.
  5. Additionally you might attempt to work with other students in your area when “no microwaving” or “no wireless” printing times should be. Of course this may be impractical, but it may at least be worth considering.

There are several scenarios where this may be the case.

• You’re in an area which has poor internet connectivity no matter what:

Let your professors know about this, and also contact Bridget Jacobson (jacobsbk@whitman.edu, 509-527-5158) in the Dean of Students office to discuss arrangements to allow you to complete your courses.

• You don’t have an internet/wireless plan:

Many internet providers and wireless carriers are offering free and discounted internet access in response to COVID-19.  Here’s a partial list. Note that this is subject to change by these companies:

Spectrum

  • Spectrum is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households. More details at Spectrum's website.
  • Spectrum is also making its Wi-Fi hotspots open across its footprint for public use (https://www.spectrum.com/wifi-hotspots).

 Comcast

  • Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, Comcast is offering 2 months free to new Internet Essentials customers in response to recent and anticipated emergency measures associated with the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Comcast is also temporarily waiving their monthly data caps. More details at Comcast's website. 
  • Xfinity WiFi hotspots are open across their national footprint for public use (https://www.xfinity.com/wifi)

Cox

  • Cox is increasing download speeds for its lowest-cost plans to 50 mb/s for the next 60 days. Income-qualified families can also receive a free month's broadband service through their Connect2Compete program ($9.95/mo.) after. More details at Cox's website.

AT&T (home internet)

Altice/SuddenLink

  • Households with college or K-12 students displaced by COVID and who are new customers without home internet access can get 30 Mbps service at no cost for 60 days. More details at Altice's website.

Sprint

  • By Thursday March 19, most Sprint customers with data plans will have unlimited smartphone data through mid-May, along with an additional 20 GB of hotspot/tethering service. More details at Sprint's website.

T-Mobile

  • Most T-Mobile customers with data plans will have unlimited smartphone data through mid-May, along with an additional 20 GB of hotspot/tethering service. More details at T-Mobile's website.

Class Logistics

Students will withdraw from classes electronically via the portal just as has previously been the case. Students will need to get electronic adviser consent to withdraw from classes. 

We do not have an answer to this question right now and are working on determining this as soon as possible.

Faculty will need to make this decision on a case by case basis. If all requirements have not been completed, it would seem the course would continue on. 

Your professor will...

Give you the assignment parameters, and will either tell you specifically how to do this online or will leave it open-ended.  If the latter is the case, here are some ideas for how to get started. 

Overview 

Screen sharing functions in Zoom and Google Meet allow you to share your screen and presentation in real time just as a professor would.  In addition, Google Slides, PowerPoint and Adobe Spark will allow you to collaborate on presentations with your fellow students as well as insert audio and video. BE AWARE that audio and video elements may not play smoothly or even at all depending on the internet connections you, your classmates, or your professor have.

Preparations 

Do not hesitate to ask your professor for clarification on the assignment.  If your presentation is a group presentation, arrange virtual meetings using FaceTime, Google Meet, or similar platform, and be sure to give yourself as much lead time as you possibly can to prepare and practice (practice, practice, practice).  When your presentation is prepared, if your professor hasn’t already asked, ask if you can share the presentation materials (links, files, etc) with the whole class BEFORE the class happens.  Doing this helps ensure that everyone can see the presentation materials, even if their internet connection is bad.

Technology 

Resources 

Due to circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 Pandemic, any approved transfer course completed during Summer 2020 will not count toward the 10-credit limit maximum for online coursework which can be accepted toward a Whitman degree.

Academic Resources

If you are a student who has active accommodations for this semester, testing accommodations and adjustments in format (audio-enabled texts, for example) will continue to be honored. Many accommodations you might have had in the past (laptop for note-taking, flexible attendance, etc.) will be "built into" this shift in instruction, but you might experience new challenges. If you do, or if you are a student without accommodations who is seeking information and support, please contact Antonia Keithahn at keithaam@whitman.edu or 503-320-2950.  More information.

Center fOr Writing and Speaking (COWS)

The Center fOr Writing and Speaking (COWS) will continue offering tutoring on writing assignments online. 

Language Learning Center (LLC)

Whitman's Language Learning Center will continue to offer support to all of our language learners during this transition to online learning.  While the actual center will be closed to students for the rest of the school year, the people who support that space are still very active. For instance:

  • Our Language Assistants will be offering their regular conversation groups for students in an online format.  If you have not yet been contacted about your scheduled time slot, please be sure to email your LA or contact Jennifer Mouat (mouatjh@whitman.edu). 
  • Our English Language Fellows (peer tutors) will continue meeting their clients in an online format.  If you have not yet been contacted about your scheduled time slot, please be sure to email/text your ELF or contact Jennifer Mouat (mouatjh@whitman.edu).
  • Our Whitman Undergraduate Conference Coaches are awaiting word about the plans for a possible virtual WUC this year, and will be contacting panelists if that moves forward.  

Our Interim Language Learning Center Manager is still available to answer your questions and offer support by email (and Google Meet): mouatjh@whitman.edu. Please don't hesitate to contact me if I can assist you!

While physical access to Penrose Library and Northwest Archives are not available, the library staff has worked hard to make digital resources available for our students. See the Remote Access to Resources and Services website for information about online databases and digital resources to help you. Librarians are also available via email and chat to answer your questions. The chat function is staffed seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

You can also access full-text versions of in-copyright materials via HathiTrust and the National Emergency Library.

See this video to learn more about what virtual resources are available from Penrose Library.

Since academic buildings are closed affecting access to printers, the Whitman College Print Shop will be fulfilling your printing needs.

If you need something printed Monday through Friday, fill out this form before noon and choose a pickup time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. that same day. If your print request is received after noon, your order will be available on the following business day. Printing will not be available on the weekends.

Pickup will happen at Boyer House (34 Boyer Ave., next to the GAC, and across from the Walla Walla Sub Shop). Please enter through the front doors, pick up your printing and exit immediately. We also ask that you keep social distancing protocols in mind.

STEM Hub

The space in the STEM Hub will be closed for the remainder of the semester, but the Hub is still here to promote collaborative learning!

We will use this site to provide information about tutoring, suggestions for group studying, and ways to connect online. Science departments, and classes that offered drop-in, and by appointment tutoring are working to schedule open tutoring hours, and set up online appointment calendars. As we get these in place, we will insert links below.

  • Astronomy: Look for a link coming soon!
  • Biology: If you are enrolled in Biology 111, 112 or 205, online tutoring sessions will become available soon.  Look for a link here.
  • Chemistry: Online chemistry tutoring will happen with Google Meet Sunday – Thursday.
  • Computer Science: Lab aides will be switching to virtual scheduled hours.  A link for how to sign in to virtual lab open hours coming soon.
  • Geology: Tutoring will be happening on Tuesday nights, 7-8pm.  A link to Google meet will be available soon.
  • Math: TBD.
  • Physics: The Physics Fellows program will be moving online, and will be available for the first year classes.  

WCTS can help!

Note:  Some hours and services may change as our institutional, state, and federal situations change.

You may have lost certain access to course materials. We’ve partnered with our digital course materials provider, VitalSource, and leading publishers, to launch VitalSource Helps, a program that provides access to ebooks to all Whitman students through May 25th. You may begin accessing these materials today at bookshelf.vitalsource.com

Also, amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, RedShelf is partnering with the publishing community to provide students with up to 7 free eBooks from participating publishers. (Program applies to students at non-profit, semester-based schools, and access runs through May 25th.) https://studentresponse.redshelf.com/

Subjects and Services

ARC Peer Tutors subject tutoring is available for courses in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Geology, GIS, Mathematics, Music Theory, Physics, and Statistics (all departments).  Other subjects can be considered in consultation with appropriate department professors and Janet Mallen. Skills coaching, including improving learning habits, time management, and goal setting is also available and does not need to be associated with a course.  Learning assistance and tutoring may be limited by the time availability of the tutors and by staffing.

Requesting an ARC Peer Tutor

The portal to request an ARC Peer Tutor is via the link tinyurl.com/wctutoring, and it is listed on the ARC website.  Please direct students that site. Requests are reviewed, the student is matched to an available tutor, and both parties are sent an email informing them of the assignment.  The tutee is also provided next steps to take as well as tutoring expectations, such as to be prepared, attend class, etc. If a request cannot be met due to availability or because another campus resource would be more beneficial, such as when a writing tutor is needed, requestors are appropriately referred. In some cases, due to the number of students requesting assistance for a course, small group tutoring may be held, with it consisting of 2-3 tutees, or if warranted, a large group tutoring effort will be arranged, with multiple tutors on hand.  Examples of large group tutoring are finals, midterm, or other exam preparation events, FG/WC tutoring, or large SA programs in first year halls. Note: during the remainder of the Spring 2020 term, large group tutoring will not be held, but small group tutoring may be arranged. 

ARC Peer Tutoring will be conducted online for the Spring 2020 term going forward.  Normally, ARC Peer Tutoring takes place in Olin 203, which is the ARC’s Teaching and Learning Center, and it will return there when appropriate.

Please direct questions about ARC Peer Tutoring to Janet Mallen at mallenje@whitman.edu.  If you know of a student who you recommend to be a tutor, please direct them to the job posting on Handshake and to Whitman’s Student Engagement Center (SEC) for assistance with the application process.