Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Meet Josh Schroetter

Hello 2013 Hixson Scholars! Are you excited for the school year to start?? Well, I know I am. My name is Joshua Schroetter and I am so excited to be one of you peer mentors this fall!

I am a 2010 Hixson from Howard County (in the northeast part of the state) and I am majoring in Computer Engineering with minors in Mathematics and Sociology. I could go on and on about how excited I am to meet all of you this fall, but I think it is about time I get to the actually information part of the blog.
If you have been following this blog for a while, you likely already read about some of the resources here at Iowa State (and if you haven’t been following the blog I am honored this is one of the first posts you are reading). My goal today is to get you more familiar with AccessPlus (https://accessplus.iastate.edu) and Blackboard (https://bb.its.iastate.edu), which are two websites that you will utilize for you entire time at Iowa State.

Since most of you attended Orientation and registered for classes, you have likely already seen AccessPlus (A+), which is the website that you registered for classes on. That is just one of the great features of A+. When you first log on to A+ (using your university ID number and a password you set up at Orientation) you will likely see two tabs at the top right labeled A+ Home and Student. If you get an on-campus job another tab called Employee will also be up there. You will spend most of your time in the Student tab. Under the student tab you can do things such as look at your U-Bill (which show the money you owe or are being refunded by the university), check out your dining and housing statuses, see your class schedule, check your CyCash balance, see your grades and get transcripts, look for jobs on the Student Job Board, and many more things. The ones I listed are just some of the main ones I use during the school year. I encourage you to log on and just look at all the options that are under the Student tab. I wish I had a bunch of time to cover every single one, but unfortunately I don’t. Consider this your chance to go exploring all the options (and to be honest, I don’t know what some of them do. Shhh, don’t tell anyone that). Any time you select one of the options in the menu on the left-hand side of the page a smaller submenu will appear at the top left. See the screenshot below for any example. If you ever have any questions about A+ feel free to ask your peer mentors, any one in the Hixson office, your Community Adviser, or even any upperclassmen you know. There is also the Student Answer Center in Beardshear you can utilze and ask any questions you may have.

Blackboard (BB) (I like shorthand, it makes this typing thing easier) is another webpage that most of you will use almost all of the time. BB is where most professors and teachers will post information about their classes. You will log on with your Net-ID (the first part of your ISU email address) and a password that you setup during Orientation. Once logged on, you will see a lot of different things, but the main one you will use is My Courses. In that section you will see all of the classes you are in where the professor has setup BB for the class. As you can see in my screenshot I currently only have one class since it is the middle of summer. Fall classes will show up sometime in August. On the main page you can also see other sections such as My Tasks and My Calendar. Depending on how your BB courses are setup, assignments and deadlines will show up in those sections. However, I have nothing due so they are all empty. You can personalize this main page as much as you would like. I set mine back to default for the screenshot so your BB account should look the same when you log in for the first time. Digging in a little deeper, you can go into each class specifically to get more options. The bottom part of the screenshot shows what a class page looks like (I have blacked out the Announcements since they aren’t important for this blog post). The class page will usually open to the Announcments section if it is setup. This is a good place to look at any thing the professor wants you to know about the class. Things that end up here are also sent in an email to you as well. As you can see, there are a lot of menu options on the right-hand side. The main one you will likely use is Grades. Most professors will update this fairly regularly so you know what scores you are getting in the class. There may also be different menu options such as Assignments. This would be where you can see all past, current, and upcomming assignments for the class. Professors may also post extra materials and class syllabus, usually under the Course Content section. Depending on how the class is setup by the professor, you may also use other sections or have a section that isn’t in the screenshot. I know in the past I have also used the Discussions tab (this is a forum for the class) for help in the class or for certain assignments. Unfortunately I don’t have time to cover all the little nuances of BB, but if you have questions you can ask them to your peer mentors, the Hixson staff, or your class professor (you should probably go with your class professor first).

The last thing I want to mention is that if you ever forget your password for either A+, BB, or even your email account, you can contact the Soution Center (515-294-4000, solution@iastate.edu, 195 Durham Center) to get it reset. They can also help you out with other technical issues you have with either website.

Well, I apologize for the long blog post, but I had a lot of stuff to cover. While A+ and BB may seem confusing at first, you will come to love and hate them with time. Oh, and you will learn how to use them as well. They are full of options and resources and you will use them pretty much all the time while you are here at ISU. With that, I will call it a blog post. I can’t wait to meet all of you in the fall! The school year is almost here, get excited!

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