Please read this page thoroughly first, then, once you have become familiar with the overall layout, read it a second time and
follow the instructions in various components.
All references to Blackboard are applicable only when the course has opened and you are reading this on Blackboard.
This information was provided during June 2020, and communicated several times, to give students adequate time to prepare.
All regulations apply even if you did not read it.
Do not assume anything before checking with the instructor. Ask questions first.
If you come across any ad for any merchandize you should consider it un-endorsed and you are to ignore it or uncheck it.
Ask the instructor before giving away any personal
information or purchasing any item or downloading any software that is not explicitly mentioned here.
A - Introduction. The seven components of the course:
Blackboard, Aleks, Proctorio, SmarThinking, Resume, Instructor's Website, Course Evaluation
B - Instructional Material: Ebook, Aleks Videos, Text-based Videos
C - Assessments: Knowledge Checks/Topics Mastery, Homework, Quizzes, Midterms, Final, Grading
D - Communication Protocol
E - Good and bad reasons for taking an online course
F - Required Resume/Profile
G - Proctorio
H - Start up To-Do List
A - Introduction
Hello and welcome to Online Precalculus II, MATH 2312-48f, Summer II 2020, July 7 - August 10.
The prerequisite of this course is a grade of C
or higher in Precalculus I MATH 2311 / MATH 1414.
In absence of above your advisor may use Math Readiness Score MRS 750, THEA MATH 270, Old SAT MATH 500, or ACT MATH 19 to place you in this course.
This course prepares for Calculus and Analytic Geometry I, MATH 2413.
It covers functions, inverse functions, exponential functions, logarithmic functions, circular trigonometric functions,
inverses trigonometric functions, and introduction to polar coordinates.
Usually students in sciences, technology, engineering, and
mathematics (STEM) take this course. Most STEM disciplines require 21 hours of mathematics, namely:
Calculus I,II,III, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Statistics.
This is the applied mathematics track, and it is built on precalculus.
Students in several other departments also take this course
as a general math requirement for their degree, most notably for getting ready for Physics 1.
Real success in precalculus is readiness for calculus. Time spent reading and problem solving are the main indicators of your success.
Instructor: Dr. Maesumi, Lucas L206, firstname.lastname@example.org
There are seven components to our course:
Blackboard, Aleks, Proctorio, SmartThinking, Resume, my website, and the course evaluation. Here I briefly introduce them.
(1) Blackboard (Bb)
This is our central gathering place. You are reading this document on Blackboard,
which is also known as a learning management system (LMS). You have already noticed the black strip on the left side.
There are a variety of "classifications" and "tabs" on that strip.
For example, you are now under Course Information/ classification,
and under Start Here tab.
Instructional material are under Course Content/ Content.
You will starts your tests from Blackboard but most activity will occur on Aleks.
Your grades are also on Aleks.
Some email might be originated from Blackboard.
This is our mathematics homework system.
It will give you your ebook, objectives, homework, and quizzes/tests/exams.
Aleks presents you with specialized Knowledge Checks designed to measure your strengths
and suggest ways to deal with your knowledge deficiencies.
Based on these checks, and by the semester end, it evaluates you to determine how many topics you have mastered.
Payment for Aleks: Your original payment for Aleks is good for one year, and it is integrated with your tuition bill.
You may gain access to Aleks by going to Tools tab which is under Course Resources/
classification. There you will find "MH - Aleks Campus",
which should be on the upper left corner of that newly opened page.
By clicking on "MH-Aleks" you start a "pairing process".
Once that is complete you will have access to Aleks. By the way,
MH stands for McGraw-Hill Education, which is the publisher of your text.
You need not enter an access code or purchase access. That is already part of First Day Access you paid for and it is valid for one year.
Read the Communication Protocol, below, carefully decide what email you wish to use,
and register on Aleks with your name exactly as on the class roll, and only once.
Accept popups from Aleks on your browser for email to work. Do NOT use browser back/forward buttons to nvaigate within Aleks, rather use Aleks own navigation buttons.
This is the free proctoring software that monitors your tests.
It records the test taker, student's keyboard actions,
sights and sounds, screen, surroundings, computer activity, etc.
To use Proctorio you need to use Chrome browser and install
The software must be installed by the first day of class.
Read more about Proctorio and its troubleshooting below.
There will be a quiz to make sure everyone knows how to apply Proctorio.
It is your responsibility to make sure Proctorio is installed and running on your PC. If not, then you must drop the course.
(4) SmarThinking tutoring system
Lamar has partnered with
to offer tutoring for online/distance education courses.
To login, user name is your Lamar email address.
Password example: Assuming your name, birth date and SSN are
John Doe, January 25, 1981, Social Security Number 1234567890
then password is 810125&DJ7890
i.e. YYMMDD & Last Initial First Initial Last 4 SSN
If you use the service let us know on the course evaluation how useful it was.
There is also the MATH SHOP, on Lamar campus, in Lucas Engineering Building, L211, where you can get free tutoring in person.
It typically operates M-R 9-4, and F 9-12. However, during emergency (as in the current pandemic) this may be done online.
(5) Resume/Course Contract/Profile Info
Students are required to submit a specific profile for themselves as explained below.
This assignemt has a significant influence on grades, from a penalty of -40 points if not done to a bonus of +5 points, per each exam, for a complete resume.
If you do not do this you will fail your exams.
Here you can find a variety of apps, demos, tools, auxiliary material and additional resources. You can search the page, for example type CTRL F (hold CTRL Button and press F) and in the search box type "precalculus".
(7) Course Evaluation
Toward the end of semester you have an opportunity to evaluate the course. Go to LUConnect->Evals to complete this task.
Take a screen shot of the acknowledgement page showing the enitre acknowledgement page, including all of your courses, and your name.
Email the screen shot to me for extra points. The header of your email should be "Screen Shot Precalculus Evaluation" sent to my lamar email.
Your email should be signed with your full name.
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B - Instructional Material
The instructional material has several components.
The main component is your textbook (by Miller and Gerken). You may access the ebook, for free, through Aleks.
Owning a physical copy is optional.
The secondary source is the collection of videos and instructional material within Aleks.
Especially as you go through the assignments called "Objectives".
The third source is a set of videos that closely match the textbook. To find these,
first go to Blackboard, Course Content classification, and below that, click on Content.
You will see a list of chapters. For example, click on Chapter 3, you see a list of topics, and a list of videos.
The videos are geared to individual sections and objectives as listed in the text. There is also a file for ALL chapters covered in this course.
You are to
(1) read the related sections in the Miller text, and take notes
(2) view the videos listed on Aleks and Blackboard, and take notes
(3) do the Objectives and Homework on Aleks, and, again, take notes by writing the entire statement of problems
and the correct steps of solution in your notebook. Enter final answer on Aleks. Aleks will tell you if you are incorrect,
and may take you back to a stage where it thinks you need some extra practice.
(The more you write the more you learn.
Keyboarding is not as nuanced as writing. For learning mathematics you do need to write.
So, write, write, write!
Here is a related inpirational video
For a young person facing a big challenge, who needed to accept to do the assigned exercises!.)
To encourage you to write, you are allowed to use your notebook during tests. However:
(1) I hope students realize and acknowledge that this is a major privilege
(2) the notebook must be entirely handwritten and only contain the items listed above. No printouts.
(3) for the notebook to be helpful it needs to have a table of content, page numbers, index of technical phrases, etc.
(4) think about ways to make the notebook searchable in easy efficient steps
(5) for a solid preparation for STEM math sequence you need to know all formulas you learn in this course, independent of your notebook
(6) students are not to think that they will be leisurely "studying" their notebooks during tests, otherwise you will run out of time
(7) I recommend you use a binder for your notes, this makes it easier to add/remove/rearrange your pages
Other optional and additional resources, such as various collections of videos and texts, may be placed here for your use. You are encouraged to explore these,
especially prior to start of class, to have a better experience. Here are some additional resources:
Trigonometry course from Arizona State University on EdX platform
Precalculus Text by Stitz and Zeager
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C - Assessment
(Extensions may have a late penalty of (10+delay days)%).
There are six components to assessment (the components and percentages are subject to change):
(1) Aleks "Initial Knowledge Check". To be taken asap. This is not for grade, and it is not an ordinary test.
It is an adaptive test. It adjusts to you as you go along.
It is intended to find out how much of the material is already known to you.
Then, based on that result, Aleks will place you somewhere in the homework stream.
You should not expect to get a high grade on the first Knowledge Check, if you did you essentially are ready to place out of this course.
Make sure not to seek help in answering these questions otherwise your test becomes invalid and your homework becomes harder!
(2) Aleks Objectives. These are essentially Aleks lectures in the form of interactive problems. You read it, practice it several times,
once you show that you got it then you move to the next item. These are a major portion of your grade.
(3) Aleks homework. These will cover the recently studied material. It is static, no lectures and no mutiple similar problems.
(4) Aleks Topics Mastery/Knowledge Checks. Throughout semester, Aleks will give you a sequence of Knowledge Checks,
and the fraction of topics you "master", by the end of semester, will be considered as a part of your grade.
(5) Aleks quizzes. You may have some quizzes to become familiar with Proctorio or on recent material where you will have fewer chances
at correcting your answers compared to a homework assignment.
(6) Aleks tests. You will have two cumulative midterm tests and a cumulative final test.
You want to start quizzes and tests as EARLY as possible so that in case of system failure you have enough time to respond.
Waiting for the last minute to take a test is discouraged and can put you in the risk of missing a test.
Assessment schedule and grade calculation:
This information is subject to change. Especially with respect to percentages and dates. For finalized dates check Aleks schedule.
(Late penalty= (10+delay days)%).
Initial Knowledge Check, 0%. Must be taken asap. Your homework is determinied after this test.
Homework 22%, 11 sets of problems, due about every third day
Aleks Topics Mastery 18%, 3 checks
Proctorio Readiness and Practice quizzes 6%, two quizzes,
Cumulative Midterm 1 Exam 11%, July 20
Cumulative Midterm 2 Exam 11%, August 1
Cumulative Final Exam 11%, August 10
Bonus points and curves:
+3 points for evaluation of the course, per each of the three Exams, (email the Acknowledgment Page, make sure email header says "Screen Shot Precalculus Evaluation")
+5 points, per each of the three Exams, for a complete, timely, and well-written Resume, -40 points per Exam for skipping the assignment and not sending the Resume
The bonus points will be used to shift cutoff grades for individual students before final course grade is give. Your displayed grade will not change.
Maximum bonus point = 8% * 33 =2.64/100 points.
You have access to your notebook on tests (essentially equivalent to +25 points per exam)
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D - Communication Protocol
It is essential that students find the calendar of events and assignments on Aleks and check it and their emails on a DAILY basis
including weekends and holidays.
They are not individually assigned/declared by email etc, they are already on the schedule of Aleks.
As a courtesy, some additional emails may be sent, however,
"I did not receive your email" will not be accepted as an excuse for missing an exam or a quiz.
There is a penalty of (10+delay days %) for missing a test or quiz or homework, that is if an extension is given.
An excused extension requires a written verifiable proof of extended emergency.
This is not a leisurely course. At a minimum it requires 30 hours per week for a compressed summer course.
If you need more time than provided then you should take the long semester version of this course.
Please do make sure that we are on the same page as far this issue is concerned.
We need to make sure we have a reliable way of communicating.
Due to multiple emails and platforms and our difficult-to-change habits there is an issue to be dealt with.
I strongly recommend that:
(1) students should use their lamar.edu address for all issues related to Lamar, and do not use it for anything else
(2) students should update their registration information on Self-Service Banner so that they only have
their Lamar.edu address as their preferred and public address there
(3) students should check their emails on a daily basis
When you registered at Lamar (on the so-called Self-Service Banner System) they system gave you
a lamar.edu email address and then the registration system asked for your "preferred email address."
Somehow, about 15% of students make a mistake at that stage of registration and as a result they end up in a limbo of
apparently having no preferred/public email address or of not knowing their email address.
The responsibility for this issue is on your shoulder.
There is nothing more I can do. If you notice an issue with your email contact Lamar IT, and be persistent.
Also, usernames and passwords should be recorded on other reliable mediums so as to protect you from being locked out.
To reach me and get a timely reply please:
Email me directly at email@example.com from your email service (as in your GMail/HotMail/etc).
Please do NOT use Blackboard for emailing me.
Always SIGN your email with your full name (as on the class roll) and course name i.e. John Doe Precalculus 2312.48f Summer 2020.
I will respond to that same email address. If you do net receive a reply within 8 hours send it again.
Please do not leave a phone message.
I will contact the entire class using your lamar.edu email address and/or your Aleks or your preferred email address
(as indicated by you during registration on Self-Service Banner system).
By the lengthy treatment of this rather trivial-looking email issue you should notice the importance it has!
If you have unresolved issues contact me asap.
Exam time is not the appropriate time to claim your email is not working.
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E - Proctorio
1- Proctorio is a software that proctors your tests and quizzes.
It must be installed by the end of first day of class.
2- On Blackboard enable Secure Exam Proctor. To do this go to Course Resources/Tools.
Search for Secure Exam Proctor (an icon resembeling an old-style webcam), and make sure it is enabled.
3- Procedure: We will use a "container or gateway test" to employ Proctorio.
This means that you initiate your test on Blackboard where you get a password for the Aleks test.
You let Blackboard test stay open. Then you go to Aleks website,
(directly using browser's address line and opening a new tab),
and, once there, open the test using the password you just picked.
Once you are finished with your test on Aleks you submit it there,
then you head back to Blackboard and submit the container test there in order to terminate Proctorio.
Proctorio has some strict standards that you need to adhere to. Otherwise you will be asked to take another test.
We will practice using Proctorio on a quiz to make sure you are familiar with the steps. Therefore make sure you do not skip quizzes.
Here are some videos that explains its use. These videos are from other universities,
so your experience can be somewhat different:
Proctorio Description 1 and
Proctorio Description 2.
Please note: There are separate instructions for the Blackboard container test and the Aleks test.
For example typically Blackboard says you have multiple attempts but the Aleks test says you have only one or perhaps two attempt.
The first one just means if you are disconnected you can get back into the test,
while the second one says you can only submit one answer per question.
Problems with getting into Blackboard Gateway Test
If you attempt to get into Blackboard Gateway Test
and you see a page asking you for a password, similar to the photo below, then that indicates an error message
and you need to
1- Make sure you enabled Secure Exam Proctor on Blackboard as mentioned above.
2- If that does not solve the problem then follow the instructions mentioned here to remove cause of error.
3- If you still need help contact Proctorio Customer Support.
Basics of a proctored test using Proctorio
0- Install it long in advance of tests, to make sure it runs on your computer.
Waiting until the first test to discover that it does not work for you does not reflect well on you.
1- Your environment and your appearance has to be exactly as if you are in a classroom.
2- Turn the light on! make sure your room is bright and well-lit. Otherwise your face and your ID will not be visible.
3- Hold the ID so that your face appears in natural position.
(Don't turn it sideways even if Proctorio's box suggests it.) Look at how your ID appears in image, make sure it is not blurry.
4- When Proctorio says "room scan" the main thing to do is to scan your table.
Count from 1000 to 1020 and slowly turn your webcam over your table showing the items on your table.
For privacy you may use a white sheet hung behind you. Or sit such that a wall is behind you.
5-If a question needs a calculator then Aleks will show one on screen. That is the only calculator you will use.
6- No: phones, calculators, tablets, books, printed materials, secondary computers or monitors is allowed on your tableJ.
7- No: headsets, hats, sunglasses, smoking, vaping, eating, drinking, lying in a bed, music, noise, dark room.
8- No: copying, pasting, downloading, browsing, communicating with unauthorized persons.
9- No: surfing in unauthorized sites or ebooks or files. Aleks pages other than exam page are also off limit.
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E - Reasons for taking a course online
I have a job, I need to study at off hours
I have to take care of a family, I need flexibility
I have a physical restriction or health concerns, I need to stay at home
I am far away from a university, I rather not pay for dorm or rental or commuting
I have a schedule conflict or no other section is available and it is imperative I take this course now
I really study better by myself, from online sources or texts
I am a self-starter, well-motivated, meticulous with schedules, computer savy, ...
I have heard everyone gets an A
I have heard you can outsource assignments
I have heard that this is a self-paced course
I have heard you can do as you want on exams
I have heard you can procrastinate as much as you want
I have heard this is a private tutoring arrangement
I have heard you can tell the instructor
"I did not get your email/I do not check schedule/I did not know there was an exam" to get an extension
On your resume you will have a chance to explain why you are taking this course online.
Other than Covid-19, what other reasons could have influenced you to take an online class? Please explain.
Is taking an online course a good idea? It all depends on what you make of it.
Producing a good online course is an extremely expensive proposition!
It is typically the result of a multi-year team effort.
(Just imagine trying to give swimming instructions over a landline phone,
or writing a manual for your home for someone, as opposed to showing your home to that person.)
A sophisticated support system is needed and then the result is similar to what you see, for example,
in UT, Linear Algebra,
or in sites as listed in
An Online Course Repositories List.
However, you still do not have access to the instructors of those courses. And the completion/success rate of those classes are unexpectedly low.
Here we do not have all the bells and whistles of an advanced setup but you have some access to the instructor.
However, you need to make a concerted effort to make use of all resources and make it work for you.
Online courses face some criticisms, in part related to those "bad reasons" listed above,
but when they work they can be wonderful.
Again, your experience depends, to a great degree, on how you plan to use this option.
If you have an opportunity to study by yourself and take a placement test; and you are well-disciplined,
then it may make good sense for you to take that option.
If you can take this course at a low-cost community college
then you may want to consider that option.
However if you are a recent high school graduate I hesitate recommending that you take a foundation course online,
as a compressed course, or as a summer course, without first going through a complete vetting process. If this course was
available in high school, where it was free and taught on a leisurely time scale, and you missed it at that time,
then it is best to re-evaluate your educational plans to make sure similar mistakes are not being made now.
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F - Resume
I need to get a "resume" from each student. This is not a resume for an office or an industrial job,
it is a resume for getting into precalculus. If this were a job, and I was hiring you as a student,
how would you convince me to hire you?!
So in this resume you include the following required items.
(Make a file (say in WORD) and then convert the final copy to PDF and mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Copy this questionnaire and answer each question in your resume, make a blank line between successive questions.
If an item is not applicable to you just write "not applicable" and explain
I- Identity Information
You are being asked to identify yourself because you are accessing our network and get credit for work performed.
All of this information is collected during tests. Here you are confirming that information.
If any of these change during the course (such as changing address, computer, ISP, etc)
then you need to make an updated resume and submit that before any test.
1- First name
2- Last name
3- Lamar University L number
4- Lamar email
5- Secondary email (optional)
6- Public IP address ((IPv4 and IPv6 if given) of your computers (go to What Is My IP Address to see your address)
7- Your postal/physical address (choose the address where your computers is located)
8- A clear copy of Lamar ID (If there is a credit card number on it you MUST cover it up)
9- A clear copy of another official Picture ID, for example a Driver License.
(You just need to show your name and your picture, you should cover up all the other items.)
10- A large clear ID-type picture (about 4 by 6 inches) showing your face but without hat or sunglasses.
Like what you would take for an ID at DMV.
II- Education Information
11- Declared fields of study, (major/minor)
12- Details of the last three math classes you have taken (where, when, how well did you do, was it online?)
13- Why are you taking this course?
14- Why are you taking this course online, as opposed to on-campus, and why during summer?
15- How do you know that you have the prerequisite of this course? How were you placed into this class?
16- Is MATH 2413, that is Calculus I, on your degree plan?
III- Other Info
17- Specify all hours (at least 20 hours of the week) when you can take a test.
(We cannot guarantee to be able to work around overly restricted schedules).
This information may be used to see if an online chat hour with the entire class is possible.
IV- Do you have a solid computer, good online connectivity, a webcam, a microphone, and an uncluttered study area?
An independent quality webcam with base/tripod is preferred.
Here is an example of a good setup.
Tablets, phones, custom-made computers, etc, may not be compatible. Do a system check on the first day.
18- What is your back-up computer system in case your main computer or wifi or Internet are disabled?
19- During tests you will be asked to use the webcam to show your ID, your face, your table,
and your surroundings to ensure that standards of Proctorio test are met.
This will require some practice.
We apologize in advance for the intrusion and the inconvenience, but there is no other way of taking a secure test.
Proctorio will record all events. If the proctoring standards are not met student
will be asked to take another test.
Do you agree with this requirement?
In your resume you do need to type "I do agree with the requirements of proctored tests.
If the standards are not met, my instructor, at his sole discretion, may ask me to take another test."
IV- Voluntary Information
As a part of your resume you may include optional items and information to let me know
you, your educational goals, your career goals, responsibilities, current employment, what you expect from this course,
and any details that you think might help what we intend to do in the course.
If you have not done well in math classes before, let me know what steps you are willing to take, from the first day,
to make sure you succeed this time.
Pay close attention to the fact that summer courses are more than three times as fast as the long semester courses.
So you need to put your absolute best effort forward.
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G - Start up To-Do List
As soon as possible
(1) read the explanation above, if you have ANY questions please contact me asap
(2) on Blackboard if there is an attendance roll call (or "quiz") for each class, it is required and conducted by Lamar University, do it
(3) on Aleks there is an "Initial Knowledge Check", take it by yourself
(4) find the schedule of various assignments on Aleks (Objectives, homework, quizzes, tests)
(5) find your ebook on Aleks (look for three horizontal bars, on upper left corner)
(6) on Aleks there are Objectives and Homework to be done, with super strict deadlines, you want to get started on that
(7) submit your Resume, without it you will fail the course
(8) heads up: Blackbaord or Aleks could, at times, be slower than usual websites
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