Our digital campus lets students around the world engage with lecturers, preceptors, and each other.
Signum’s online digital campus uses conferencing software to facilitate remote learning and connect students with lecturers and preceptors during live lectures and discussions.
We are constantly assessing the needs of our students and identifying new ways to deliver remote instruction in a flexible and impactful way. See our current digital campus facilities below, along with the technical requirements for taking online classes at Signum.
Signum Account (G Suite)
Upon admission, each student will receive a Signum-issued email account that can be used to access our digital campus.
Some of the resources that require a Signum student email include:
- Google Classroom access for enrolled courses – see the Course Pages section below for more information
- Discussion forum access for asynchronous conversations about topics covered in class
- Communications from faculty, staff, and Signum administration
- Selected resources provided by the Signum Library which require authentication
Student emails and access to course materials never expire. Alumni may continue to use their Signum email account after they graduate.
Students are required to have a reliable computer and Internet access. Modern Windows and Mac systems are supported, and other operating systems may be used so long as they meet the technical requirements listed below.
Minimum Technical Requirements
Student computers must have the ability to play audio and video and must have a functional microphone to participate in preceptor discussion groups. At minimum, we recommend:
- A desktop or laptop computer with at least 4GB of RAM
- A 1Mbps or faster internet connection
- A microphone and speakers OR a headset with microphone.
Students will need the most recent version of a modern web browser to access online classrooms and resources. Google Chrome is recommended, but other modern browsers such as Safari or Internet Explorer are also acceptable.
Our classes utilize Google Classrooms and GoToWebinar. For information about requirements for each of these apps, refer to the following:
Through their Signum student account, students will also have access to Google productivity apps, including Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Third-party applications such as Microsoft Office are not required, but they may be allowed – students should contact their preceptors if they have questions about how to deliver assignments for a particular class.
During live lectures (usually two each week per course), students and auditors can log into the live lecture to watch and listen to the lecturer’s presentation.
While students and auditors will not be able to speak during live lectures, they will be able to submit comments and questions to the lecturer at any time during the presentation. This gives students and auditors the ability to engage synchronously with the lecturer, without having to remember to send an email later. (In the event that not all comments or questions can be answered during the lecture, many lecturers will often respond via email or discuss the topic in the next class.)
One concern that people often have with regard to online learning is whether they will have access to the instructors. At a traditional college or university, many professors establish “office hours” when students can stop by to ask questions, clarify assignments, and receive additional recommendations for further readings or research.
At Signum University, we believe that collaboration between students and instructors is an important aspect of the educational environment. As such, instructors and preceptors for each course establish dedicated times when students can connect directly with lecturers and preceptors to ask questions, clarify ideas, and discuss paper topics.
Signum’s Digital Campus extends well beyond the live-instruction interface. The University also offers ways for students to access course materials and engage with each other outside of the classroom.
Each course offered at Signum receives its own page in our digital campus where enrolled students and auditors can access course information and materials, including:
- The course syllabus and discussion section assignments
- Weekly schedules with links to assignments, readings, lectures, and other materials
- A discussion forum where students, auditors, and professors can exchange ideas about topics brought up in class or related issues
- An archive of recorded class lectures to download for listening or viewing later
These course pages are typically made available before the course begins, so that students can access materials and start readings ahead of time, if they desire. The course pages will also be available after the end of the course, so that students and auditors can continue discussions in the forums and access downloadable materials for review and further study.
Degree-seeking students and discussion auditors* will also engage in weekly moderated discussion sections using the Signum classroom software. During these weekly discussions, all participants will be able to talk directly with each other to present ideas, debate issues, and ask questions related to the course.
The discussion sections are moderated by preceptors, who will be able to direct the course of the conversation as appropriate and when necessary. Each discussion group will be no larger than twelve participants (eight for our language-learning classes).
* Discussion auditor seats are available only for selected courses.
In addition to course-specific pages, our digital campus makes certain resources available to anyone taking a class for degree credit as well as auditors.
Our Community Hearth provides helpful information and videos on a variety of topics including, such as how to access Signum’s digital campus from various devices (e.g., laptop, tablet, mobile devices) and expectations on how to write papers for Signum’s intensive degree programs.
The Community Hearth also provides a general “Student Lounge” forum where students and auditors can connect about any topic they choose related to Signum courses, events, and other aspects of interest to the student body. Many students share papers, insights from their classes, and information about upcoming events and gatherings that may be of interest.
Signum University Library provides access to digital resources critical for helping our students research subjects and complete assignments. Enrolled for-credit students have full access to Signum’s digital library resources, including a number of subscription-based journals and other materials, via our digital campus. These include the Project Muse Humanities Collection, a set of over two hundred high-quality, peer reviewed journals, such as Tolkien Studies and The Chaucer Review. (Students must be logged in to access these materials.)
In addition, our librarians have produced a number of research guides to provide help in locating resources related to the core courses offered by Signum, including literature and language study. As Signum University expands its range, so will the research guides provided by the Library.
A Note About Times (and Time Zones)
Students from all over the world may enroll in courses at Signum University. Obviously, the differences in the times of availability and time zones in which our students and professors are operating create some logistical challenges.
Both students and auditors will be asked to inform us of their time zone and the times of day in their local time when class attendance would be possible for them. We will schedule the lectures in a time slot that works best for the majority of the students in the course. Those who cannot attend the lectures live will still be able to download recordings of the sessions.
For students, different discussion sessions will meet at different times of day, and we will do everything we can to ensure that individuals are assigned to sessions that meet at a time convenient for them.
Depending on enrollment, the professor may deliver lectures at different times. Finally, the office hours of the professor will be given at different times of day during the week, to accommodate as many different time zones as possible.