Introduction to Online Learning
This resource is for students. For faculty resources, go to ARC ITC Distance Education
Are you ready for Success as an Online Student?
Click below to watch a video Introduction to Online Learning
ARC offers three different types of online learning: online, hybrid, and web-enhanced.
An online course is offered over the Internet. Typically, content is presented through web pages and class discussions using a combination of email, mailing lists, bulletin boards, chat rooms, or newsgroups. All class meetings, assignments, lectures and assessments are online (with the exception of orientation meetings or other face-to-face examinations as determined by the professor).
A hybrid course is taught online using similar web-based tools and Hybrid course activities as an online class. Some portion of the course meeting time is conducted online, and the remaining percentage of the class is conducted in a traditional classroom manner.
The class is taught face-to-face for 100% of the course meeting time, but classroom assignments and materials are supplemented with web-based activities. Examples are online projects, hand-outs and materials, online discussions, or online testing.
Online learning can be an exciting way to learn; it can also be challenging. Your success is directly tied to your effort and organization. It requires a high level of motivation and self-discipline, and you may spend more hours on coursework than you would if you took the same course in a classroom.
Are You Ready for Online Learning?
Taking an online course is different than going to a classroom.
A "yes" answer to most of the following questions indicates that online courses may be right for you.
Do you have reliable access to a computer and the Internet?
To be a successful student in an online course, you need to have regular unlimited access to a computer and the Internet. At a minimum, we recommend using at least a Pentium II-based PC or a G3 PowerMac machine.
You will also need a reliable Internet connection. If you experience frequent busy or dropped signals, you may have difficulty completing courses on time and participating in chat sessions.
Do you enjoy writing and participating in discussions?
Most communication in an online class consists of written messages between you and the instructor and discussions among class participants. If you have difficulty with an assignment or have questions, you must be willing to "speak up" to inform the instructor. Good typing skills also are a plus.
Do you frequently use e-mail and browse the web?
You must login to your online course and interact several times a week. This can include working on assignments, participating in discussions, and responding to e-mail. If you're not accustomed to routinely accessing the Internet, it may be difficult to motivate yourself to do the work. You must be disciplined enough to keep your coursework current.
Do you read course material carefully?
All of the material you're required to read for this course is online and you must read it carefully. Some students just print out the syllabus and key information to read offline. It's important to realize you can't just skim over the content and be able to have a clear understanding of when assignments are due and what is expected of you.
Does your schedule make it difficult to attend classes on campus?
One of the major reasons students register for online classes are for the convenience of being able to take the course without having to travel to the course location. Do keep in mind you still must spend about the same amount of time on coursework as for any normal course or workshop.
Do you like to plan ahead and finish assignments a few days ahead of schedule?
It's often tempting to wait until the last minute. If you're a procrastinator, you may have already learned that sometimes things don't work quite as well as you had hoped. With online courses, it's better to get your work done a little ahead of time so if problems do occur, they can be resolved prior to the deadline.
Do you enjoy solving problems and learning new programs on the computer?
Sometimes learning new programs or applications on the computer can be frustrating if they don't work exactly as you expect. Taking an online course may require you to learn new techniques beyond just e-mail for interacting with other students in the class.
Qualities of a Successful Web Course Student
Successful Web course students are committed to their studies. While Web courses offer more flexibility and convenience, they can be more demanding of time and energy than regular courses or workshops. Web course students need to:
- Know how to use technology (e.g., email, use a Web browser, learn to navigate through the course).
- Login regularly to participate in the class - at least 3 times per week. Some students login as much as twice a day.
- Commit approximately 6 hours per week.
- Use good time management skills and exercise self-discipline to ensure enough time to study and complete all assignments.
- Take notes as they study.
- Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others.
- Seek help when problems arise.
- Good communication is an essential element of an online course. You must be willing to share your thoughts, experiences, and ideas with the group and carefully consider your responses with professional respect and courtesy.
© Copyright 1997-2013 American Library Association. This document may be reprinted and distributed for non-commercial and educational purposes only, and not for resale. No resale use may be made of material on this web site at any time. All other rights reserved.