eLearning Centre



Once you register for an online course

Technical support

Am I ready to take an online course?

Before you take a web-based course, you should have the following:

  • Ready access to a computer connected to the Internet.
  • 10 to 15 hours a week to read the course materials, take part in the on-line discussions, and prepare the assignments.
  • Ability to learn online – An online survey is available to assess your ability to learn online.
  • Support of family and/or an employer.
  • Ability to come to the Saint Mary's campus for mid-terms and final examinations if required, or arrange for an invigilator for the examinations.
  • University-level language and writing skills in English.
  • Basic computer and Internet skills.

Can anyone take an online course?

To be able to take an online course, you must be admitted to Saint Mary's University, and have a student ID number which is issued through the Admissions Office before you can register for course(s). You can be a new or returning student to Saint Mary's University or a visiting student from another university on Letter of Permission.

Please consult the online Academic Calendar for Admissions and Registration procedures and policies plus information about Admission and Application Forms.

How do I register for a Saint Mary's course that will be delivered through the internet?

Once you have been accepted to Saint Mary's University then you may register for online course(s) through the Registrar's Office, in-person or use the Banner Self-Service which is online registration.

Please note: Payment of tuition fees is an integral part of registration.

How much will it cost?

 Depending on the Faculty of the online course will determine the cost.  For more information, please see Tutition and Fees.

What if I don't have a computer?

There are many computers available to the general public in Canada. In Nova Scotia, the government has set up Community Access Points throughout the province. These access points provide the internet services free of charge to the general public. In the rest of Canada, communities and local governments have set up similar programs.

Each Community Access Program (CAP) site has its own hours of operation and policies.

To use a CAP site, you may need to pay a membership fee in the range of $20-$25.

Most CAP sites limit the use of a computer to one 1/2 hour at a time. You will need to make reservation for the 1/2 hour of time by contacting the Reservations Site Coordinator at the CAP site.

Can I start and complete the course at any time?

All online courses are completed within a specific timeframe and deadlines must be met.

All students should start their online course(s) on the first day of the current semester and proceed through each week's modules of study and assignments as they are due.

All online course(s) ends on the date indicated for the end of the semester on the Banner Self-Service and the Academic Calendar.

Will another university accept this course for credit?

Most Post-Secondary schools across Canada accept other Post-Secondary schools' courses for transfer of credits. You must have a certain passing grade and provide an official transcript for your Saint Mary's course to be evaluated at the other Post-Secondary school

I am a student in another university. What do I have to do to take a course at Saint Mary's?

If you are enrolled in a degree program at another university and wish to take a course at Saint Mary's, you will need to obtain a Letter of Permission from you home university. Once you obtain this from your university, you will need to fill out an application (Application Form B - Visiting Student) and present this signed Letter of Permission to the Saint Mary's admissions office. You can then follow the normal registration procedures by registering on Banner Self-Service or in-person at the Registrar's office.

Once You Register For an Online Course

What do I need to start this course?
You should have the following requirement for your computer for the online course:

  • Any modern PC or Mac computer with a high speed internet connection (e.g.: DSL, Cable, Wi-Fi)
  • Access to the Internet - As a student, it is your responsibility to login to the online course. For a course on the Internet, this means that you need to have a way to connect to the Internet. The local Internet Service Provider (ISP) is able to provide you with the information that may be needed.
  • A Web Browser (e.g.: Internet Explorer 7.x or higher)
  • E-mail - In order to ensure that the instructor can communicate with you and you can reciprocate. You must have the ability to send and receive e-mails. Information is drawn from the Academic Calendar which is the final authority on any item. You are responsible for being familiar with the Academic Regulations which are contained in the Academic Calendar.

What are my responsibilities as a student?

Academic Responsibility

a. University students are expected to have a reasonable measure of self-discipline and maturity. While the University's teaching resources are available for help and guidance, and instructors and staff will make every effort to assist students with academic or other problems, the final responsibility for success or failure in academic studies rests with you.

At times there may be considerable pressure to achieve high grades. One may be tempted to obtain grades by dishonest means. The integrity of the University, and of the degrees it awards, is compromised by practices such as cheating and plagiarism. The University does not condone such acts under any circumstances and will take appropriate disciplinary action.

b. Plagiarism - Plagiarism is the presentation of words, ideas or techniques of another as one's own. Reference to or appropriation of another's work whether by direct quotation or paraphrase must be acknowledged by proper citation. When in doubt, one should seek the advice of the instructor before submitting the work. The above definition of plagiarism is not restricted to literary works and applies to all forms of information or ideas that belong to another (e.g., computer programs, mathematical solutions, scientific experiments, graphical images, or data). Submission of the same piece of work for credit in more than one course is usually not permitted. The approval of the instructors of the courses involved must be obtained in advance.

c. Examinations - Cheating is the attempt to secure a grade by unethical means. Knowingly assisting someone to cheat is itself cheating. Cheating would include such practices as:

i. Arranging for someone to impersonate oneself at an examination or the impersonation of another at an examination

ii. Requesting, providing or accepting unauthorized assistance on a test;

iii. Possession of unauthorized materials at a test;

iv. Unauthorized procurement of a copy of an exam.

Anyone observed committing one of the above offences is presumed guilty of cheating unless you can establish his/her innocence.

d. Other - It is an offence to falsify any academic record or to use a falsified record. Notice is hereby provided that documents in a student's official file may be examined and routinely verified. Evidence of falsified or misleading documents will result in an investigation which in turn, may lead to disciplinary action including the possibility of dismissal from the University. The University reserves the right to share this information with the members of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (A.U.C.C.).

It is an offence to tamper with University library materials or computer system resources in any way which would deprive others of their use. Unauthorized copying of, reading, or use of programs or files, is not permitted.

e. Sanctions - Usually, on the first offence of cheating or plagiarism a mark of zero will be assigned to the work in question. You will not be permitted to withdraw from the course. The instructor will inform you, Deans of the Faculty in which you is registered and/or the Faculty in which the course is taught, and Registrar, in writing, of the offence.

In the event of a second offence, or serious first offence, the University may impose one or more of the following sanctions:

  • A grade of F in the course;
  • A record of the offence on your transcript;
  • Suspension from the University;
  • Dismissal from the University;
  • Revocation of degrees, diplomas or certificates.

Withdrawal from a course prior to the discovery of the offence does not restrict the University's right to take action. Further information is found in the Student Discipline sub-section of Section 8. For more information on Academic Regulations visit Saint Mary's University's site.

Student Discipline

a. Student behaviour - Saint Mary's University, in accepting students, takes it for granted that they are prepared to engage seriously in the pursuit of learning within an ordered academic institutional environment. Rules and regulations which affect student behaviour are intended to ensure that the quality of life of students and of those associated with them in the work of the University is respected and preserved.

The largest measure of responsibility for maintaining standards of conduct rests with you, the student. The University reserves the right, however, to counsel, admonish, limit the activities of, impose penalties on, or dismiss any student or group of students whose conduct violates normally accepted standards of civilized behaviour or is in conflict with the University's objectives, policies, rules and regulations.

b. Discipline System - The Senate-approved disciplinary system operates under the general responsibility and direction of the Director of Student Services. The Saint Mary's University's Discipline Code was officially passed by the Academic Senate on 22 September 1995. Copies can be requested from the Director of Student Services. Several administrative officers of the University receive complaints, examine the evidence, and make decisions with respect to the disposition of cases. If there are appeals against these decisions, they are heard by the three-person Student Disciplinary Appeal Board. Decisions can involve monetary fines, suspensions, or expulsion from the University.

c. Authority of the President of the University - In addition, the Saint Mary's University Act empowers the President of the University to deal directly with matters relating to student discipline. The President reserves the right to deal with academic and non-academic offences on an ad hoc basis and to determine the appropriate process in each case.

d. Students and parents (or guardians) of students are advised that Saint Mary's University does not agree to accept custody guardianship or responsibility for any student, whether under the age of 19 or otherwise. The University is not responsible for acts or omissions of any student.

What are the reading materials that I need?

Reading Materials will depend on the online course. You may require a textbook which is identified in your online course package and the syllabus.

  • In addition to the course contents which you will read on-line, you may need to buy a textbook(s) identified by the course professor in the online course package or the course syllabus. Saint Mary's University Bookstore stocks textbooks and you may order your text from them (Phone 902-420-5562 or 902-420-5562 Fax 902-420-5006; e-mail bookstore@smu.ca). For an additional charge, the Bookstore can ship textbooks to you by courier.
  • Depending on the online course the course syllabus may identify supplementary readings. You can arrange with the Saint Mary's University Library, a public library, or another university's library near you to obtain these through inter-library loan. You can learn more about this by visiting the libraries' websites

How does copyright affect the course materials?

Copyright is obtained by Patrick Power Library, Saint Mary's University for online contents.

  • Saint Mary's University makes every effort to identify all holders of copyright and to receive permission to use the materials in the online course(s) which is being offered. If you are aware of a copyright problem, please contact Marie DeYoung, University Librarian / Copyright  Officer, Patrick Power Library.
  • The copyrights for all courses information is held jointly by Saint Mary's University and the professor of the course(s).

How will I be tested?

Testing for quizzes, mid-terms and final examinations are given in different methods depending on the instructor of the online course.

  • For each module the online course(s) has a self-test or quiz so that you can check your knowledge. These activities are automatically graded online and your mark is released to you right away.
  • Your course may also have a mid-term and/or final examination. In these cases, you will be required to come to the Saint Mary's campus at a designated time and place to write your exam.
  • For students who live 100km or more away from the campus, you are responsible for arranging for an invigilator to proctor your examination. Please contact the Studio Teaching and Learning - eLearning for more information.

How will my mark be determined?

Grading System

a. The final grade for a course will be based on the quality of a student's work including, where appropriate, essays and exercises, class tests, end of semester examinations, final examinations, reports, class participation, laboratory work, tutorial sessions, projects and field work.

b. Instructors must inform students in writing of the grading system to be used in each of their courses. The written statement must include the relative weight which will be given to class and/or laboratory participation, examinations, tests, written assignments and other means of evaluation. The statement must also show how these evaluations will be used to determine the final letter grades. This detailed grading system for the course must be given to students on the first day of class in that course. Subsequent changes to this system must also be made available to students in writing. A copy of the grading system and any subsequent changes to it must be placed on file in the office of the Dean of the Faculty at the time when they are distributed to students.

c. Instructors must also inform students in writing on the first day of class of any “in-class” test which will be scheduled outside of the regular instructional hours of the course.

Undergraduate Rating, Grades and Quality Points The undergraduate grading system was revised prior to September 1, 1997 and these revisions were made applicable to all students registered for undergraduate credit courses from September 1, 1997 onward. A number of the University's academic regulations had to be revised in conjunction with these revisions to this grading system.

a. The rating of undergraduate students' performance is given as shown below in equivalent grades, quality points, and percentages.

Grades Grade Points Percentage Points Rating (Full or Half-Equivalent Courses)
A+ 4.300* 90 - 100  
A 4.000 85 - 89 Excellent
A- 3.70 80 - 84  
B+ 3.30 77 - 79  
B 3.00 73 - 76 Good
B- 2.70 70 - 72  
C+ 2.30 67- 69  
C 2.00 63 - 66 Satisfactory
C- 1.70 60 - 62  
D 1.00 50 - 59 Marginal Failure or withdrawal after deadline
IP     In Progress (Applicable ONLY for undergraduate honours courses)

* In November 1997, the Senate of Saint Mary's University voted to have the A+ grade carry 4.30 quality points, retroactive to Summer Session I, 1988. All past decisions on academic matters, such as academic probation/requirement to withdraw, placement on the Dean's List, qualifications for graduation, academic distinctions, and scholarships, shall not be affected.

b. The following grades shall be given when appropriate but will not be calculated in the quality point average: Aegrotat standing (see Q. 12)

AE Authorized withdrawal from course W (see Q. 16)

c. The minimum passing grade is D (or its equivalent). Students should be aware, however, that a grade of D (or the equivalent) is regarded as a marginal pass and therefore carries negative connotations. For example, many programs require a grade higher than "D" in an introductory course in order to declare a major.

d. To receive a passing grade in a course, students normally must complete all course requirements, including all tests and examinations. Students' attention is directed to the fact that those courses carrying double numbers, i.e., HIS 517.0 (617.0) will require additional work and a higher level of academic performance from students registering for the higher number. If students are unsure about the requirements, they should check with the faculty member offering the course.

e. Students who have not completed the work of the course may, in special circumstances and with the prior written authorization of the Dean of the Faculty, be given the grade IC (incomplete) by the instructor. The IC (incomplete) grade will be considered permanent in those instances where students do not complete the work of the course and do not take any steps to get deregistered from the course. The IC grade will be regarded as a failing grade and so calculated into any quality point averages.

f. A grade of IP (in progress) may be assigned in that instance where students do not complete the work in honors courses and on theses on time. Furthermore, in those instances where students never finish the work, the IP will be considered a permanent grade. The IP grade will not attract any quality points and therefore will not be calculated into any quality point averages.

g. The maximum time limit permitted for a change of final grade is six months from the last day of classes in the semester. Except for the changing of an approved "incomplete" to a real grade, a grade change must be approved by the Dean of the Faculty in which the course is offered.

h. In cases where, through no fault of your own, grades have not been received and processed by the deadline stipulated by Senate, a temporary grade of AI ("administrative incomplete") will be assigned but will not be included in the calculations of quality point and cumulative quality point averages. This temporary grade of AI is assigned by the Registrar.

i. Once a final grade has been determined, supplementary examinations or any additional assignments for the purpose of changing that grade are not permitted.

What if I can't finish the course?

Withdrawing from a Course

If you need to withdraw from a course, you must withdraw through Banner Self-Service before the last day of withdrawal.

If you withdrew after the last day, you can expect to incur an academic penalty such as a failing grade for the course. It is important to consult the Registrar's office. See the Academic Calendar or Banner Self-Service for other important dates.

What if I start the course and it is not what I expected?

At the beginning of each course, be sure to read through the course syllabus, the assignments, and the course content which will be available to you. You may want to contact the course instructor to discuss your expectations.

If you find that this is not the right choice for you, you should withdraw from the course either by Banner Self-Service. Alternatively, you can notify the Registrar in writing in a letter form if you do not use the Banner Self-Service, you must write to the office of the Registrar which must include your name, address, Saint Mary's ID number, and the courses, labs and recitations involved in the withdrawal.

If you withdrew early from the course, you will get most of your tuition payment back except for a small administration fee if prior to the end of the add/drop period. For a detailed schedule of tuition refunds by date, please consult the Banner Self-Service.

Technical Support

What if I have technical problems? ....where can I get help?

If you have technical problems, please see the list below for guidance.

  • Saint Mary's University technical support is maintained through I.T.S.S. Help Desk: 902-496-8111 or 902-496-8111 or helpdesk@smu.ca.
  • Internet connection support is managed by your Internet Service Provider, such as Sympatico.
  • Computer technical support is managed by the computer store or company from which you bought your computer

The following are some questions and answers that may assist you in solving your Brightspace problems. Please read carefully.

Are you using the proper link to access your online courses?
To access the online courses, go to Saint Mary's University's homepage and click at the SMUPort login tab. Enter your "S" number and password. Under the heading of Academic Tab, choose the course you wish to access.

Are you entering the proper ID and password?
If you had an SMUPort account during the previous semesters, it may no longer be active. Every 90 days you will need to reactivate your password to have access to the current session. The Blackboard account is automatically generated for you.

Remember the SMUPort username and password is case sensitive. Change the password for security reasons. Record the new password in a secure place where it will be easily located. It is your responsibility to remember your password and keep it secure. If you forget your password, please contact the ITSS Helpdesk (see above).

What type of browser are you using?
Most Broswer is compatible to access any of Saint Mary's University online courses. If you are using any Internet Exploxer, you may have problems viewing your online course.

Is your computer Java-enabled?
If not, or do not know how to enable the computer, here is How to "enable Java":

Most of the interactive activities are Java applets and as such require a Java capable browser. Most modern web browsers are capable of running Java applets, but some browsers run Java better than others. Some browsers are not capable of running interactive activities adequately (or at all).

If you have a Java-capable browser but the activities will not load, you may need to enable Java in your browser.

For Internet Explorer under Microsoft Windows users: Under the "Tools" menu click "Internet Options". A dialog box will appear. Select the "Security" tab.

Under "Security level for this zone" click the "Custom Level" button. Another dialog box will pop up. Scroll down to the Microsoft VM section. If "Disable Java" is selected, select "Medium safety" instead. Click "OK" in both dialog boxes.

I cannot access the Blackboard Collaborate sessions or any of the Pop-up windows!

A number of different causes can result in your not being able to access the colloborate sessios.

Install Java: If your Browser needs a program called Java to operate the chat room. If you cannot access the chat room, please go to: http://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp to download the Java.

  • Click on Free Download at the right hand corner.
  • Make sure the title reads “Java 2 Runtime environment, SE v1.7.0_45
  • Follow the installation process
  • This could take up to ten minutes
  • It may be required to restart the computer.

Open port 4445 in your Network: If you get a browser error reporting "The server is not responding", this usually means you are using a network or ISP that is blocking access to some network ports (e.g.: working from home network with a firewall). The Chat program runs on a different port than Blackboard itself, and may be blocked. Speak to your Network Administrator about opening port 4445.

If the ports are indeed blocked by a firewall, the ports will need to be opened. If you are trying to use Brightspace at work and the company is not willing or able to open these ports then you will be unable to use Brightspace from work.

Stop Popup killers: While using Brightspace and unable to view discussion postings, quiz windows, and download links then you should disable pop-up killers or ad-blockers on the system.

Pop-up killer applications work in the background on the computer while a person is browsing the internet. When pop-up killers detect a pop-up window that may be an unwanted advertisement, it will automatically close the window. This can prevent Brightspace from performing properly.

What time of the day are you trying to log in?
The peak hours in Atlantic Canada Time (AST) are from 6:00 – 10:00 PM. If you try to login and cannot access the site please try again in few minutes. Make sure to hit the Refresh or Reload button.

On the third Sunday of the month, Saint Mary's University I.T.T.S. department usually does regular maintenance. You may not be able to access your course between 7:00am to 2:00pm.

Are you working from Work? Do you have a Fire Wall issue?
Most companies have a firewall installed on their server that keeps their personal data and privacy safe from Internet hackers and data thieves. The firewall allows in connections that are known and trusted. One of the features of Brightspace is allowing students to use the whiteboard and the chat room which require a special port. Saint Mary's uses Port 8900 for online courses. You can request your system administrator to grant access to the Online site at Saint Mary's University by releasing that particular port.

Can't open the Online Course Page?
Some Blackboard customers have reported being redirected to the Ask Jeeves website or get a "forbidden" message when trying to log onto Brightspace. This is caused by certain browser add-on, spyware, or adware programs installed on the affected computer. These types of programs are commonly installed by file-sharing programs. Brightspace recommends that you uninstall or temporarily disable any of these types of programs to eliminate problems when accessing this. To help you control these types of Internet programs that maybe running on the computer, you may wish to download and install a spyware and adware detection and removal utility, such as:

Install and run "Ad-aware" Ad-aware is a program that will locate and remove adware programs. It will remove various advertising tracking cookies. This program has periodic updates. Download, install, and run the program. If you already have the program installed, check for updates. Adware is free for non-commercial use.

What happens when you try to log in?
If you have any of the following problems, please contact the Brightspace Technical Support.

  • Do you get an error message when you try to login? What does it say?
  • Do you get booted out of Brightspace completely?
  • Do you get a blank screen?
  • Does something else happen?
  • Does nothing happen?

What if I forget my password?

If you forget your SMUPort password, it is recommended to email the ITSS Helpdesk and to have a new password assigned.

What if my quiz does not begin?

The browser settings are probably not set-up for Brightspace. Please go to the Brightspace technical requirements page and the login problems page to configure the browser correctly. This might also be a pop-up issue - please make sure to disable pop-up blockers when trying to access Brightspace.

What if my Blackboard Collaborate session does not open?

Go through the browser-tune up. Students will find this link on the top right-hand side of the Brightspace login page. The browser-tune up will ensure that the browser is optimized for Brightspace use. There are various causes that could result in not being able to access the chat rooms. Install Java: Internet Explorer needs a program called Java to operate the chat room. If you cannot access the chat room, the website a student can go to is http://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp to download the Java.

  • Click on Free Download at the right hand corner.
  • Make sure the title reads “Java 2 Runtime environment, SE v1.7.0_45”
  • Follow the installation process
  • This could take up to ten minutes
  • You may be required to restart your computer.