Spring 2006 - Social Security Law > How to Use this Site
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How to Use this Site

1. In general

All elements of the Social Security Law course are accessible from this site <http://www.law.cornell.edu/socsec/course/>. The Course syllabus and schedule page <http://www.law.cornell.edu/socsec/course/syllabus.htm> provides a course syllabus with links to the Assigned readings and the Course of instruction for the full sequence of topics we shall cover. (The link to the Course of instruction for each topic will be opened up at least one week in advance of our coverage of it.) Our schedule for moving through those topics is also set out on that page along with the dates of the four mastery exercises, discussed later in the course introduction. Be sure to incorporate these course dates in your calendar for the term. They are the equivalent, for this on-line course, of your class schedule in a classroom based course.

Once you have gotten into the rhythm of this course, you may wish to bookmark the Course syllabus and schedule page in your browser rather than the course main page since it furnishes a compehensive guide and set of pathways to all elements of the course, without being burdened by the introductory features that are, necessarily, contained on the main page.

The "Readings" page provides direct access to course readings, organized by topic, including both the assigned readings and optional background material.

All course discussions will take place in the course conference or Discussion area.

2. Course materials

All course materials are available from this site. The good news is that you won't have to buy a course book or a supplement containing the act and agency material. The bad news is that many of you will be doing a lot of printing.

Work habits vary widely and so I won't presume to tell you when or how much of the assigned reading material, let alone the background readings, to print. I don't like to read long documents from the screen. On the other hand, I generally do my selection of what exactly to print at the computer, skimming material on the screen and identifying key documents or portions to print.

To facilitate bulk downloading and printing of material that many, if not all, of you may want to print at the outset for reference throughout the term, I have converted my commentary on the field, the relevant portions of the Act, and the portions of the regulations that provide program overview to word-processing file format (rtf). These items together with the Social Security Administration's "Fast Facts and Figures" document are linked for downloading at the very top of the course Readings page.

All of that material is also accessible topic by topic in a Web format that includes hypertext features that are left behind in the conversion to print. The assigned readings also include cases, rulings, and articles which you can print in whole or part as we come to each topic.

Classmates at each participating school may well want to band together to get copies of the readings produced in quantity at a local copy center rather than have each student proceed individually to print them out. That strategy may not only realize some economy but also permit such features as punched or bound pages and printing on both sides of the page.

More on how to work with the readings will be covered under the Course Introduction. In addition to the course Readings, the course site gives you direct access to a full set of Social Security research materials that we call our Social Security Library.

3. Streaming audio presentations

Each of the topics will begin with one or more presentations by me designed to place it in context. And following the readings will be a set of "probes, problems, and extensions" through which we'll begin our work with the material. Each will be contained or based on a page of this color and format. The audio content is begun by the link in the upper right hand corner of the page. (If you haven't yet started the audio for this page, scroll back to the top and do so now.) Once begun these streaming audio presentations can be paused and otherwise controlled by the RealPlayer software.

At the top of these pages you will see a stated duration in minutes. That is how long the audio will run, uninterrupted. Often, however, you will want to interrupt it and perhaps even replay portions. Why? To listen again to a point that went by too quickly, to take notes, or to work with a problem or reflect on a question at the point it is being discussed rather than later. In other words, the "duration" of a page should not be confused with how much time you will need to spend working with it.

4. Topic pages

Each topic has a main page that organizes and gives access to all the presentations, problems and discussion questions that comprise its coverage or Course of instruction. While the topic main pages themselves can be accessed without signing in, all of the presentation and problem pages with streaming audio beginning with Topic 1 are open only to students registered in this course. They, therefore, require that you sign-in.

The topic pages present all the constituent material in sequence. The presentation and problem pages all contain links back to the point on the topic page from which they were reached.

5. Course sign-in

Students registered for the course will be given instructions by their school on how to register with us. That on-line registration process will result in each student having a login name and a self-assigned password. As noted above, signing in will be required in order to access all presentations and problems beginning with Topic 1. In addition you'll need to do a Course sign-in order to participate in class discussions.