About Online Courses

Online courses are not for everyone. There are certain characteristics of online learners that increase the likelihood of success. In addition to  personal characteristics there are  technical skills, resource, and system requirements to participate in online courses.

An online course is a very different learning experience from an in-person course that takes place in a classroom. The benefit is you have a lot of flexibility and can complete classwork around your personal schedule. The caveat is that you will need a positive attitude toward learning independently, strong personal discipline and time management skills.

An online course can be offered in synchronous or asynchronous learning formats. Sometimes online courses are offered as a hybrid of the two. The synchronous format typically occurs in the form of a virtual class meeting via chats or videoconferencing. Often referred to as a "live" or real-time, synchronous class convenings allow teachers and students to have conversations and respond to each other instantly. The asynchronous format typically occurs offline at a time that that works well with the student's availability. The student submits coursework via web, email, and message boards. The student generally completes coursework at his or her on pace using the internet as a support tool. 

Required Skills and Resources

Students taking online courses will need access to a personal computer and the Internet on a daily basis. Some course activities can be completed using electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, or iPads; but these devices do not substitute the need for a personal computer.

Each student should have a POSITIVE attitude and possess the following items and skills:
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work in a small group
  • Ability to send and receive e-mail (with attachments)
  • Ability to use word processing, spreadsheet, email, and browser software
  • Ability to use web-based applications as directed throughout the course of the semester
  • Ability to troubleshoot basic computer problems that may be encountered with internet connectivity, hardware, and software used in this course.
  • Access to the internet and an internet browser (i.e., Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, or Internet Explorer)
  • Access to a modern personal computer with audio-visual recording functionality and a high-speed Internet connection