In the Fall semester of 1998, I offered one of the first Cuyamaca College online courses to help out CIS 212 students on a long wait list. Since then, we've added online sections for many courses. In an online course, students work on assignments at home, using e-mail and the Web to communicate with other students and the instructor.
Am I ready to succeed in an online class?
This online quiz will help you assess your readiness. (I set this up to open in a new browser window. To get back to this page, close the window when you are finished.)
How does it work?
An online course follows a schedule and syllabus (just like an on-campus course), but students can do the work any time during the week. Instead of attending lectures, online students use the class notes, textbooks, assignments, discussions, and video demonstrations to learn. Moodle (an online course management system) is used for announcements, discussion, assignments, quizzes, email, and checking grades. Students are responsible for reading the textbooks and handouts and completing all class learning activities on their own, but help is available by discussion, e-mail, online conferencing, or phone.
You mean I don't have to come to class?
That's right! You can set your own work hours and do everything wherever the course software is installed. You do have to keep up with the schedule.
So what do I need to be an online student?
Here's what you need to be able to succeed in an online course:
- Access to a computer with Internet access (e-mail, Internet Explorer). If there is a lot of video content, you will need high speed Internet access.
- Course software. See the course syllabus to find out what is required.
- Textbooks (see syllabus for your course)
- Ability and willingness to work independently.
- Ability to manage time.
- Willingness to take responsibility for learning and ask questions.
- Solid experience with Internet and with Windows or MacOS.
- Excellent reading and writing skills.
- TIME! Successful students schedule at least 3 hours per unit each week to work on a semester class. Plan to spend 5-10 hours per week for a 3 unit course.
How do I Communicate, Turn Work In, etc.
- Moodle is a course management system used to communicate (discussion forum and e-mail), submit assignments, take quizzes and exams, and check grades. Plan to check Moodle twice a week. Course announcements will be posted to the Moodle discussion forum.
- Occasionally I will contact you by email or phone. I have you complete a form with your contact information as part of the online orientation. Let me know if your email address or phone number changes.
- Assignments are posted on the course Web site with due dates and instructions for turning in the work. Usually, you'll submit a file to Moodle. Look for feedback and a grade on Moodle within a week of the due date.
- Quizzes are on Moodle and you will usually have a week to take a quiz. Most of the time you will get immediate feedback and your score is posted as soon as you submit your quiz.
- Post your questions at the Moodle discussion forum. You should get an answer by the next business day. Email me if your question is urgent or personal.
- You can also call, email me, or stop by my office. See my home page for contact information and my schedule.
Do you have any tips for online students?
- Keep up with the class. The biggest problem online students have is gradually falling behind. You lose points when assignments are late, and you may be dropped from the class if you get behind.
- Schedule at least 9 hours per week to focus on a 3-unit class. You may not need all the time, but schedule it and stick to your schedule.
- Work with a small group, either in-person or via phone or e-mail.
- Contact your instructor as soon as you begin to have problems or if you decide to drop. A lot of times, a short visit or phone call can clear up a question that might otherwise trouble you for days.
- Check e-mail and online discussion several times a week.
- Have a back-up plan in case your computer crashes.
What Do Students Say About Online Learning?
Former students offered these tips:
- Start early on projects and remain focused.
- Find a partner and work with them. The input is of great value, you always have peer review.
- Talk online with each other and find a friend.
- Don't put off any of the assignments.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions.
- This is not an easy class. Stay on top of assignments.
- Stay on top of the assignments and give it more time than "just getting by"
- Be ready to go quickly with all the necessary components (software, books, computer, Internet)
- The single best predictor of success in this course is persistence.
- Schedule 2-3 sessions a week to work on the class. At the beginning of each session, set goals for yourself and prioritize.
- BE SURE to read e-mail regularly -- daily is best
- Don’t be shy about asking questions. There’s no point in struggling for more than 15 minutes on a problem.
- Don’t wait until the last minute to start an assignment. If
you run into a problem, it may take time to get help.
Here's what students liked about online learning:
- I enjoyed having the time to work at home at my convenience.
- Not being held down to a "class time" allowed me to attend class online during my most creative times.
- I liked online interaction from other classmates
- love the online, my schedule, I'm in control
- I liked the fact that I could do it at home. It does prove difficult at times, but having a partner is terrific.
- What I enjoyed most was being able to work on my own projects.
- Self pace, good communication, online discussion
- I enjoyed learning a new program and seeing what other students created.
- It was fun, interesting, and creative.
- Quick response time to e-mailed questions. Class was well organized, but would be easier face-to-face.
- The freedom of not having to come to class, the abundance of information
at the course web site, quick feedback to assignments
Here's what students didn't like:
- It is harder to stay motivated and put the time in
- Some things are hard to explain by e-mail or phone
- You will miss some of the details covered in the Face-to-Face class
- It’s harder for your teacher to get to know you
Good Luck!! Let's have FUN and LEARN!