Getting Started

This section gives an overview of the site and how to get started as a student in a course.

If you're reading this you have probably already registered an account and created a profile. Details on how to do that are located in the "help" section of the main menu bar.

Navigating this guide

This guide is divided into chapters including an overview (this page) and a guide for each of the types of weeks during a course. There is a table of contents on the left side of the page. Click on chapter title to go to that section. You can also click on the grey triangles on the top and bottom right of this section of text to move to next or previous chapters.

Navigating the site

Main page

The main page of the site includes site news and sections that are customized for you.

During open enrollment the center column of the main page has a list of available courses. See "Course schedule" below for more information on how to enroll.

Available courses

During a trimester, if you are enrolled in a course the center column of the main page will have a section titled "My Courses" which will list your course(s). Click on the course name to be taken to the main page of the course. (There is also a "my courses" section on the left hand side navigation column.)

My Courses

Between trimesters, or if enrollment is closed, the main page of the site will not show a list of courses.

Customizing layout

The left and right columns of each page usually contain sections or blocks, such as Navigation, Calendar, Clock, and others. Blocks can be collapsed vertically by clicking the "-" in the upper right corner, and expanded by clicking the "+". A block can be moved to the left side of the screen, or "docked," by clicking the "<" symbol. 

Block control

Blocks on the side of the screen can be used by hovering the mouse over them. They can be undocked by clicking the ">".

Docked block

Menu and other navigation tools

The menu bar provides a quick way to go back to the home page, to logout, as well as some help and information pages. Below the menu bar is a line that shows the navigation path to the current page. The page names are separated by triangles. To go to one of those pages you click the name. For example after commenting in a discussion group you can click on the course name to return to that course's main page.

Navigation bread crumbs

Course schedule and how to enroll

UBIS has three teaching periods, or trimesters, per year. They start in January, April, and September. There is an enrollment period before each trimester. During the enrollment period you'll see the list of courses on the front page, categorized by language. When you click on a category and then on an individual course, you'll see details about it including the papers covered, a summary of the course, and the facilitator. (Note: even if there is just one course for a language you still must click on the course name to display the page that allows enrollment.) If enrollment is open there is an "enroll me" button. Click on that button to request enrollment in a course.

Enroll me

If there is space in the course you will receive an email letting you know that you've been accepted. Remember to log in again the week the course starts (as early in the week as you can) to participate in the course. Details of course participation are in another chapter. Priority for enrollment is based on how many courses you have requested and whether you completed prior courses.

Course navigation

During the trimester, clicking on a course in the "my courses" section will display the main course page. This will show all current and past weeks of the course. (For example the first week there will be one section, the second week you'll see weeks one and two, etc.) Each weekly section can be expanded or collapsed by clicking on the triangle. The current week will always be at the bottom.

Course Layout

Within each week there will be different activities. To access an activity, click on the name of it. There will be additional instructions for each activity. The student guide has a chapter explaining each of the types of weeks and their activities in more detail.

Overall site features

Most browsers are supported, including phones and tablets. Some pages might be hard to see or use on a phone with a small screen, but the site will display as best it can on limited space. Unfortunately we cannot always provide specific technical support for phones and tablets because there are so many variations, but will always do our best to help you access your courses.  We recommend that you have a computer or laptop to use during the course for typing responses or participating in the discussions, but you can use a phone or tablet to read

When editing a message (either in a discussion group or in response to a question), the site will maintain your login session for 1-2 hours to give you time to finish writing. We do however suggest when writing a response that you periodically click "save" and then continue editing to make sure you don't lose any work if your connection is lost.

Account information, including username and password, is permanent. You'll use the same account for any future courses. (So you should remember your password. Most browsers will offer to remember a password for you.)

Within a course, prior weeks are available for browsing. This lets you review past questions and responses, but each week you need to make sure you've completed the activities for the current week. The current week will be on the bottom of the main course page. To keep the display uncluttered, each weekly section can be collapsed or expanded by clicking the grey triangle next to the label with the date.

The site supports English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. A course is taught in only one language as the system can't translate student responses and messages, but the menu bars and navigation tools can be displayed in any of those four languages.

The site offers a variety of ways to show course material, and different facilitators will customize their courses in different ways, but the primary course activities are common among all the classes and the way to access them is standard.

When you enter text into the system via an edit box, there will be a number of formatting tools shown (it will look a bit like an older version of Word or Write). No need to use any of them if you don't want to. At the bottom of the screen will be a button to save. The label will vary depending on the activity, so it might say save, submit, post to forum, etc. You can then return to your course's main page to do any of the other activities.

Feel free to explore the site and try different things. UBIS courses don't use all the features of the site, so you might find yourself in a section or activity not relevant to your course, and can always return to the main page by clicking home in the navigation bar. As long as you don't click on anything that says "delete" you really can't mess things up (and you'll only have permissions to delete your own things, not someone else's anyway).

If you do get stuck or find yourself getting lost or confused with the website, please ask your facilitator or the webmaster (there is a link at the bottom of every page to send email). We know there are a lot of changes and we want to help everyone and make this a site were people are comfortable sharing and learning.