Online Classes FAQ
The answers to the questions below should address most of your questions about online classes. Questions that aren't addressed below can be sent to Angelo de Stephano at firstname.lastname@example.org For technical support during an online class, call our provider's support line at 1-866-436-3797.
A. Technology / System Requirements
A-1. What are the technology & system requirements for online classes?
- Internet Connection: A T1, Cable, or DSL connection is best. A 56k modem will also work, but at a noticeably slower rate
- Browser: Internet Explorer (6.0 or higher), Firefox (2.0 or higher) or Safari (2.0 or higher)
- Operating System: Windows 98, 2000, NT 4.0, XP OR Mac OSX (10.2 and up) or Linux utilizing Firefox
- Telephone: A standard telephone or mobile phone is necessary to listen to the presenter. The audio comes from your phone line, OR with VOIP on your PC’s speakers (see question A-4 below)
A-2. Can I use the latest versions of Netscape to view the online classes?
Only Netscape 4.7 and 4.8 will work please note that Netscape is no longer a viable or supported browser.
Our provider supports only newer versions of Internet Explorer (6.0 or higher), Firefox (2.1 or higher) and Safari (2.0 or higher). Internet Explorer is free and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site. Firefox is free and can run on Windows NT, 2000 and XP, MAC Apple OSX and Linux and can be downloaded from www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/ and Safari, is also free at www.apple.com.
A-3. Any Special Configurations?
Yes, for Windows you must make sure that Active X is enabled to use the VOIP function.
For Apple users you should clear all 2nd and 3rd party cookies, clear your browser cache and make sure that you have at least 500 mg of temporary internet cache.
A-4. Is there a streaming audio function?
Yes, but it is only supported on PCs. Note that streaming audio requires more bandwidth. What you will see on your computer monitor may have a 1 to 2 second delay. If you choose to use the VOIP option you will need to install Genesys Meeting Center. See question A-8 for these instructions. Note: when you reach the “Account” window select the “No” radial button then next.
A-5. During the online classes, will I see the speaker through streaming video?
No, you will see the speaker's PowerPoint presentation as he/she clicks through the slides and makes annotations with drawing tools. With the speaker’s consent, there will be a picture of the speaker in the upper left hand corner of your screen during the presentation.
A-6. What if I only have one phone line and can't be online and on the phone at the same time?
If you have a dial-up modem connection, you must have a separate phone line to listen to the audio. Consider VOIP or a cell phone.
A-7. If I must use a modem dial-up connection to participate, will I notice the difference in speed?
It will be noticeably slow, but it's still possible to participate. If a speaker goes through a slide very quickly, then you might only see the slide in its entirety for a very short period. Also, some of the tools that the instructor will use to point to parts of the screen might appear a few seconds after the comment referencing something on the screen. A broadband connection (T1, DSL, or Cable Modem) is best.
A-8. Do I need to install special software on my computer to participate in online classes?
No. However, if you choose to utilize the VOIP option you will need to install Genesys Meeting Center by clicking the “Install” button on the entry page of http://pge.conferencing.com/. Note: when you reach the “Account” window select the “No” radial button then next. Also, you will need to go to our provider's Web site to make sure that your browser passes a compatibility test. Two days before the class, we will send you a reminder with instructions for performing this test. It’s been our experience that all participants’ Internet Explorer browsers of past online classes have passed the compatibility test. This browser test takes just a few minutes; however, the student should perform the test the day before the class in case he/she encounters technical difficulties.
A-9. Why is there no video so I can see the speaker?
To get quality video of the speaker requires the speaker to not move from one location so we can place a fixed camera pointing at him or her, or we would need to have someone operating a video camera to make sure the speaker is always in view. Furthermore, since the speaker is also talking to a live audience, the lights in the classroom are dimmed which makes for poor lighting for transmitting a video feed of the speaker. We make every attempt to have a static photograph of the speaker in the upper left corner of the screen.
A-10. Is the dial-in number for online classes toll-free?
Yes. That number will be provided in an email after you register for an online class. See question B-2 below for more information about login instructions.
B. Login Instructions and Technical Support
B-1. Do I go to the PEC Web site to log into the online class?
No. The presentation will be on our provider's Web site. The name of our provider is Genesys Meeting Center.
B-2. Where are the login instructions?
If you register for the class, two days before the class we will e-mail you all information required to log on and dial in. The message will include a link to download the speaker's presentation in PDF format. See question E-2 below for more information about class materials. Pre-registration is absolutely necessary since all reminders and details will be handled by e-mail.
B-3. Who do I call for technical support if I experience technical difficulties?
Yes, Please call technical support line at 1-866-436-3797. Do not call us if you are experiencing technical difficulties. Our provider is better equipped to help you.
C. Professional Learning Units and Proof of Attendance
C-1. Will I get a certificate of attendance for participating in an online class?
An e-mail certificate of attendance will be sent to you if you
- Register for the class
- Use your real name when you log into the class
- Stay for the duration of the class.
All three criteria must be met for you to receive a certificate of attendance. We will check system attendance logs to verify your presence during the class. Please note that this certificate of attendance does NOT qualify for AIA continuing education credit.
C-2. Will I receive AIA learning units for online classes?
Due to specific AIA requirements for awarding learning units for online classes, the online classes offered by the Pacific Energy Center and the Energy Training Center, Stockton do not qualify for AIA learning units. If you want AIA credit for attending that class, you must attend the class in person.
D. Logistics During Class
D-1. Will I be able to ask questions if I take a class online?
Yes. Your phone line will be muted, however, you will be able to type a question into a chat window and the speaker will try to answer the question in a timely fashion. The speaker will read and answer your question by voice so everyone hears the question and response. Sometimes the speaker answers questions immediately, while at other times, the speaker waits until he/she gets more questions or until finished making a point.
D-2. Will there be a break during the online class?
Yes. There will be at least one 10 or 15 minute break for a half-day class. For all-day classes, there will be multiple breaks and a lunch break, too.
D-3. Can I set up a computer, projection screen, and speaker phone in a conference room at my office so that several of my co-workers can view the presentation at the same time?
Yes. In all cases, make sure that your computer’s browser passes the inspection/compatibility test mentioned above. We recommend designating one person to type any questions that the group might have. Every person taking the class MUST register for the class at www.pge.com/energyclasses. The group will need to designate ONE person to represent the group. That person will need to log onto the provider's side and will need to confirm who participated in the class. It will be up to the group to decide how to submit typed questions.
E. Online Classes Offered and Class Materials
E-1. What classes are offered online and how do I register?
Visit www.pge.com/energyclasses. Search for classes using "Internet" as the location. You MUST register for online classes. From the list of classes, click the class title for a description of the class and for the registration form. Please note that some classes are simulcast online from the PEC. For these classes, you have the option of coming to the PEC to see and hear the presentation or participating from your home or office. There are separate registration forms for those two options. Please make sure to submit the right registration form.
E-2. Will the speaker's presentation be made available before the class for printing and taking notes?
Yes. Two days before the class, you will receive a reminder e-mail message. That message will include a Web site address for downloading a PDF version of the speaker's presentation. The file is often large in size and can result in many pages that will need to be printed. Due to copyright issues and speaker agreements, the original PowerPoint presentation will not be made available.
E-3. Why aren't all classes offered online?
Sometimes an instructor might not want to teach his/her class over the Internet. In other cases, parts of the class would be impossible to teach online with our current provider. For example, some classes have a hands-on component, demonstrations, or in-class exercises that are important to the learning experience or to the intent of the class.
E-4. Will the presentation be recorded so I can watch it at a later date?
Typically no. This is, in large part, due to copyright issues. When we seek permission to display an image or another piece of copyrighted information, we are only granted "single use" permissions. Furthermore, some instructors will not allow us to use their materials for unlimited broadcasting.