How Online Learning Works
The following list of topics include important aspects of being a fully online student. As you read, it is essential to honestly assess whether being a fully online student is a good fit for you.
Being a Successful Student
As an online student you will need to be a self-motivated and independent learner – willing to commit to a challenging program. You will also need to be comfortable using computers and new technology. When taking an online course, you will be working with multiple forms of technology including software you probably have never used before. If you are not able to use technology with ease, an online degree may be challenging.
Online learning will probably work for you if you…
- have a fast, stable internet connection
- are proficient at using e-mail and word processing programs
- are able to create, save and manage files on your computer
- are able to easily understand and are comfortable with new software
- are able to work independently
- can adhere to deadlines
- are willing to ask questions
You will be expected to actively engage in the online learning environment and will do so using our internet-based course management system (Canvas) and your student email. Time management skills are important because even though you will have significant flexibility, you will still have to complete and submit assignments according to your course schedule.
Having the right technology tools are the foundation to being a successful online student. Consider the following as you prepare to be equipped with the right tools to enter into the online learning environment.
Recommended Hardware Specifications:
- A desktop or laptop computer – although most of our technology is mobile friendly, you will still need an actual computer
- 2GHz processor or higher
- 4GB of RAM
- A working webcam, microphone, and headphones for video chatting and course lectures (depending on course)
Recommended Software Specifications:
- Latest version of your browser – Mozilla or Chrome preferred
- Windows 7 or Mac OSX 10.6 operating systems or newer
- Reliable high speed internet (1.5Mbps upload/download speed or better)
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Latest version of Microsoft Office (this will be provided for free)
The Online Learning Classroom
When designing online courses, we work to create the same quality experience you would expect in person. Our online courses are developed in partnership with our faculty and our Quality Matters team for a learning experience that is challenging, relevant, and focused on established learning outcomes (located on course syllabi).
Most of the classroom experience will take place within Canvas, our Learning Management system. Here you will access your course information, assignments, interact with faculty, and respond to message boards.
Depending on the courses you take, you may also use a web conferencing tool called Zoom (requires a webcam, microphone, and speakers). This allows you to take part in live course lectures from your computer giving you a more hands-on experience compared to traditional online courses.
Various coursework will include research outside of your textbook materials. We have a partnership with Ohio State University’s Broomfield Library allowing you to access a significant amount of scholarly articles and resources all from your computer.
Although our online courses share many of the same components, there is no such thing as a standard course. For example, our geology course’s components will differ from a business course. However, all of our online courses do share the following characteristics:
- fully online
- equal in rigor and quality to campus courses
- interactive and dynamic
Interacting with My Classmates and Instructor
An important component to our online programs is interaction. Since you will not physically be in a classroom, it is important to have assignments that involve discussion between classmates. The best example of this is our discussion posts. For each course you will have at least one discussion post to submit each week related to a course assignment. In addition to posting your work, you will also respond to the posts of fellow classmates. You will be surprised of the rich discussion that often takes place within these posts. This is also an opportunity for the instructor to interact with you and your coursework.
It is equally important to have interaction with your instructor. Other than through discussion posts, you have the option to message your instructor through our learning management system and email. If you need to speak on the phone, instructors will work with you to find a time to discuss any concern you may have throughout the course. Some instructors hold open office hours through our web chatting service, “Zoom.” This allows you to put a face with a name and to connect on a more personal level.
Our courses are designed to work with your busy schedule, providing the flexibility you need to complete coursework when it is convenient for you. The majority of our online courses are structured for asynchronous learning, allowing complete flexibility. Although fully online, our English courses require web conferencing once a week at a designated time. We have day and night sections of these courses to fit your schedule.
All of your course activities, assignments, and exams, however, must be completed by their respective due dates. The typical length of our fall and spring term courses is 16 weeks; our summer term courses are typically 8 weeks. Some courses may have start and end dates slightly different than the normal term timeframe.
You will need to be prepared to spend an average of 2-3 hours of study time and assignment completion a week for every credit hour you take. If you are taking 12 credit hours (full-time status), this mean you will need to spend between 24-36 hours a week on your coursework. Although every student is different and it may not take you this long, it is important to understand the time commitment involved with a fully online program.
Submitting Coursework and Taking Exams
Your assignments are submitted electronically through the Canvas learning management system. Once you start a course, you will have a schedule of assignments with respective due dates throughout the semester. Even though you will have flexibility in terms of when you work on assignments, there are due dates each week for assignments. Exams are also completed fully online and are structured in different ways depending on the course.
You are not alone as you pursue your educational journey. You will be assigned an Academic Advisor who will provide information, help find solutions, and give you advice on achieving your educational goals. Your Academic Advisor will assist you in communicating with different departments and will advocate for your needs. Rest assured, you will feel supported as our student!