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This page introduces students to the materials and information they need in order to start their computer-assisted class. If you have a question that is not listed below, please contact your instructor or another student in your class.
How do I enroll in a DWRL class?
DWRL classes are identified in the course schedule by a CA designation, which stands for "Computer Assisted." The DWRL hosts courses in the Department of Rhetoric and Writing ("RHE") and the English Department (course prefix "E").
What computer knowledge is required to take a class in the DWRL?
Not much. Since the focus of DWRL courses is studying English composition and/or literature, we do not ask for much prior knowledge of computers or software—just some familiarity with common word processing programs. In fact, the DWRL is often a good place to learn new computer skills. Although classes vary in the teaching and use of available software technology, students taking DWRL courses are free to learn any of the wide variety of programs provided on DWRL machines during the DWRL's open hours.
How do I transport files to and from class?
In a computer-assisted classroom, you will often work with your writing in electronic, not paper form. Therefore, you will need a reliable method of transporting your files from a home or lab computer to a classroom computer. The following methods are available, listed in order of preference:
Webspace: all students have free server space accessible through https://webspace.utexas.edu. Webspace allows you to upload files from one location and download them from another; for example, uploading a paper from home and retrieving it in class. See our Webspace tutorial for more information.
USB Flash Drives: the second best way to transport files (after Webspace) is to use a USB flash drive. You can buy inexpensive flash drives at virtually any computer store.
E-mail: occasionally, flash drives break, are lost, or fail. Although it is not recommended that you use e-mail as your primary means of transporting documents, you may want to use e-mail as a backup method for file transportation. That way, if for some reason your drive fails in class or you can't access your Webspace account, you may be able to retrieve your document by checking your e-mail. To do this, simply e-mail yourself before class with your document as an attachment. Do keep in mind, however, that you may have a problem reading the attachment due to size or format limits that many popular webmail programs have. Test out this method before relying on it.
Teacher folder: see below.
What are Teacher Folders, Public_HTML, and the Transfer Volume?
When you access the Windows side of a DWRL computer in a classroom or a lab, two different virtual drives—or, server volumes—appear on your computer desktop: the Teacher and the Transfer volumes. On the Mac side, you can find the Teacher Folder Opener and the Transfer Folder Opener in the DWRL Applications folder, which should appear on the desktop.
Teacher Folders: this volume houses the projects you complete for your class. Some teacher folders store class handouts while others are electronic drop-boxes for submitting assignments. Whenever you log in to Mac OS X in the lab, you will be asked whether or not you'd like to open your teacher folder. If you say "yes," follow the prompts given by the computer. If you say "no," you can always access the teacher folder later by going to "all applications" and then to "teacher open." When you log in to Windows the teacher folder opens automatically.
Once you have gained access to the teacher folders, your instructor will direct you to where you should save or open particular assignments. When you access the teacher folder, please respect the privacy of other students by only accessing files and directories to which you have been directed by your instructor. NEVER delete or move a file which is not yours unless you have been instructed to do so. Also keep in mind that your instructor may have set access restrictions and passwords for your class folder—ask about these in class. You should always keep a backup copy of all of the assignments you turn in for class. Click here to find out how to access the teacher folder when you are not in the lab.
Public_Html: Many instructors have opted to create a public_html folder inside of their teacher folders. Documents published in this folder appear on the World Wide Web.
Transfer Volume: this volume is a temporary storehouse of files you wish to transfer from one DWRL computer to another. For example, if you wished to transfer a document you worked on in an FAC classroom and wanted to print it out at the Parlin 6 computer lab later that day, you could save it to the Transfer volume so that it is accessible in both places. Similarly, if you have a Mac file and need to access it on a PC, you can save it to and open it from the Transfer volume on either platform. Remember that this volume is intended for same-day transfer of files, and as such, the transfer volume is emptied on a weekly basis. Please note that items in the transfer volume are deleted once a week.
What do I do if my home and school computers use different platforms?
Many students who use a home computer or non-DWRL lab computer end up using a different operating system to compose and edit documents. For example, you may have a Windows-based computer at home but may may lot in to Mac OS X in the lab. Generally, most documents (such as Word and HTML documents) will be readable on both provided you have used Webspace or have a USB flash drive compatible with both computers.
The following file types are usually compatible across platforms:
Microsoft Word (.doc, .docx)
Rich Text Format (.rtf)
Text files (.txt)
HTML (.html, .htm)
Audio files (.wav, .mp3, .flac)
Video files (.mp4, .m4v, .mov)
The following file types are either not compatible across platforms or routinely present compatibility problems:
Microsoft Works (.wps)
Microsoft Access (.mdb)
Filemaker and Filemaker Pro
Windows Media (.wma, .wmv)
Video files (.avi)
What is Open Lab?
Open Lab is another name for the DWRL Multimedia Lab (PAR 102), which is open for DWRL students who want to work on classwork. Since the lab is available only to students currently enrolled in DWRL classes, they are often much less crowded than regular times at the Student Microcomputing Facility (SMF) in the Flawn Academic Center.
During open hours, at least one proctor is available to assist you with technological questions. Feel free to ask questions of proctors concerning technical issues, such as how to use specific software or hardware. Keep in mind that some instructors may have you use software or hardware with which not all proctors are familiar; in this case, your instructor will have to provide the technical support. All proctors do, however, have a general knowledge of most of the software and hardware used in DWRL classes. But proctors are not writing tutors. For questions about writing go to the the Undergraduate Writing Center on the second floor of the Flawn Academic Center (FAC).
You can find out more information about Open Lab and its operating hours here.