Your  Account:

Learning Virtually

I will teach youSometimes the unexpected happens. It is happening now and we have transitioned to a virtual environment. Even if you've been successful with your face-to-face courses, it helps to think about how your academic life is going to change in this new environment. Prepare your learning space, organize your books and papers, set a schedule for learning, install needed software (Office Suite, Adobe Creative Cloud, other software) on your computer, and ready your mind.

Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS), the central IT unit on campus, has important and timely information for faculty, staff, and students on the IITS for You website. CSUSM has a COVID-19 incident response website with timely information and resources.

  • Cougar Courses
    Cougar Courses is the campus learning management system (LMS) powered by Moodle. Instructors use it in a variety of ways to provide resources and collect assignments. We have guides available for students. Select the student option to narrow the list of guides.If you cannot find help in the guide, email your question and course subject, number, and crn (5 digit code) to You will get a response within 24 hours. Check your email often for a response.
  • Access to Textbooks
    In order to facilitate the learning process and make your virtual learning experience more dynamic, our campus store is offering students access to eBooks from a variety of publishers for no additional cost, details at the CSUSM Bookstore website, which covers about 80% of our titles. 
  • University Library Resources
    The University Library COVID-19 Updates and Resources site contains all relevant information related to University Library current operations and response to the COVID-19 outbreak including updates to operations, access to remote services and other helpful links.
  • Zoom
    You can use Zoom to connect with your instructor, your peers, and record presentations. When connecting to a live Zoom session, follow these etiquette principles:
    • Wear appropriate clothing
    • Put your mic on mute
    • Use your webcam unless you are asked to turn it off
    • Use the chat option to ask questions or make comments
    • Put your name in the chat box at the beginning of the session and near the end for attendance
    • Find a quiet location
    • Pay attention
    • Be prepared to ask/answer questions
    • Use the raise hand icon if you want to speak
  • Respondus LockDown Browser

    Many instructors use Respondus LockDown Browser with or without Monitor. Respondus LockDown Browser locks the computer screen so no other programs can be accessed. With Monitor added, the computer screen is locked and students are recorded using a webcam while they take the quiz/exam.

  • Respondus Tips During Quiz/Exam
    • Avoid wearing baseball caps or hats that extend beyond the forehead
    • If using a notebook computer, place it on a firm surface like a desk or table, not your lap.
    • If the webcam is built into the screen, avoid making screen adjustments after the exam starts. A common mistake is to push the screen back, resulting in only the top portion of the face being recorded.
    • Don't lie down on a couch or bed while taking an exam. There is a greater chance you'll move out of the video frame or change your relative position to the webcam.
    • Don't take an exam in a dark room. If the details of your face don't show clearly during the webcam check, the automated video analysis is more likely to flag you as missing.
    • Avoid backlighting situations, such as sitting with your back to a window. The general rule is to have light in front of your face, not behind your head.
    • Select a distraction-free environment for the exam. Televisions and other people in the room can draw your attention away from the screen. Other people that come into view of the webcam may also trigger flags by the automated system.
    • Verify with your instructor if the quiz/exam is open-book or closed-book.
      • If open book, be sure to have all the materials you need prior to starting the quiz/exam.
      • If closed book, be sure to have your desk clear and your phone put away prior to starting the exam.
  • Assignments
    There are different types of assignments your instructors can use. Be sure to ask your instructor which type of submission is required.
  • Scan hand written paper and submit
    You may be asked to write answers to questions or show work for problems on paper that needs to be submitted to your instructor via an assignment, quiz, or forum.
  • Communication
    Communication with your instructor is key to being a successful student.
    • Email - use campus email to contact your instructor
      • Include your course subject and number in the subject line
      • Clearly articulate your question
    • Cougar Courses - review content in Cougar Courses daily and look for new content posted. Look for a forum where students can post questions and respond to others. If you don't see one, ask you instructor if they will create one.
  • Check your internet speed
    You will now be taking tests/quizzes online in this virtual environment. Be sure to check your internet speed and contact your internet provider if you have any issues.
  • Be cautious with your email and your password
    A number of bad actors are using the Covid-19 pandemic to target us for money or credentials. A common threat is phishing scams posing as free software or hardware to assist in working remotely. These emails ask for your username and password and then use those credentials to commit fraud or identity theft. Others offer resources such as maps to track the virus but direct you to malicious sites.Be very careful – avoid unsolicited offers and make sure your computer is protected with anti-malware. If you suspect that an email is not legitimate, forward to and we will analyze and let you know. 
    • Note: IITS will never ask for your username or password.
  • About this toolkit

    This toolkit was developed to provide you with resources and support as you keep learning. The tips, tools, and resources below will help answer some common questions and direct you to specific assistance. We use Cougar Courses powered by Moodle as our campus learning management system (LMS). You will login with your CSUSM username and password. We recommend using Firefox or Chrome browsers on Mac and PC. You can also access it through the CSUSM campus app.

    Your instructors have been working diligently to prepare courses to keep on teaching and keep on learning. Don’t worry! Your professors will do everything they can to make sure your course stays on track. It is vital to keep in regular communication with your instructors, check your CSUSM email and Cougar Courses daily, and keep focused on your learning.

  • Undergraduate Studies
    Visit the Undergraduate Studies Office "Keep Learning" website with tips & tricks and important reminders.
  • Microsoft Teams