Ten Online Class FAQs


Friday, May 15, 2020

High schools and universities have switched to online learning and online education methods as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Essentially, all colleges and universities these days are online colleges. Practically all college students are online college students. How do these online classes work? Let’s ask and answer 10 Frequently Asked Questions about online class!



Students can usually expect online college classes to be a mix of video recordings or live lectures that are supplemented with readings and assessments that students can complete on their own time. Nothing, however, is normal about the sudden transition to online learning that high schools and colleges have taken to on as a response to the COVID-19 health crisis.

Colleges and universities quickly moved into emergency mode. They shut down campuses to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further and moved all college life online. Most education experts think that there will be online classes this fall as well. For example, the California State University System has already announced its plans for a virtual fall.

For students—whether they are incoming freshmen, seasoned university seniors or returning adult learners—here are 10 Frequently Asked Questions and their answers.

      1. How is an online classroom structured?
      2. Do online college students go to class at a specific time?
      3. Do online courses involve in-person components?
      4. How do students interact with each other in an online class?
      5. What is the normal workload for an online class?
      6. How many weeks do online classes go for?
      7. What are assignments like in online classes?
      8. How do students take proctored exams and tests in online classes?
      9. What should students know before enrolling in online classes?
      10. Are there ways to accelerate the completion of an online degree?

      How is an online classroom structured?

      Online classroom structure varies but, in general, students will log in to an online learning management system—often referred to as an LMS—on a regular basis. An LMS is an online, virtual portal where they can view syllabus and grades; contract professors; classmates and support services; access course materials; and monitor lesson progress.

      LMS use requires strong internet connection and any required software.

      Students must understand that online learning as it is, during coronavirus, is “emergency remote learning” and not an accurate reflection of what online college or high school classes are like when they are well-planned and faculty are well prepared.

      Do online college students go to class at a specific time?

      Online classes usually offer asynchronous, or self-paced, timing. Online students complete online coursework on their own and must meet weekly deadlines. This offers great flexibility and also requires independence.

      Online classes may also include a synchronous component, where students have to view live lectures online or participate in videoconference discussions using platforms such as Zoom.

      Do online courses involve in-person components?

      Some online courses may require that students attend a residency on the school’s campus before or during the program. Details will vary based on the course.

      Students may also have to complete team-building activities, network or attend informational sessions. In fields such as nursing, online programs may require working in a clinical setting.

      How do students interact with each other in an online class?

      Students can use discussion forums, social media and videoconferencing in addition to phone and email communication.

      Students should never forget to take advantage of their professors as a resource. Attend online office hours if they are offered. Reach out to professors via email and engage with them using discussion forums and videoconference tools.

      What is the normal workload for an online class?

      The workload can vary but make no mistake: do not expect a class to be easier just because it’s online. Online learning students spend anywhere from 15 to 20 hours a week on coursework. This number can and will vary depending on whether students are full-time or part-time.

      ASU Online, Arizona State University’s online college, says that students usually spend six hours a week per credit hour in which they are enrolled in.

      How many weeks do online classes go for?

      Many online degree programs follow traditional semester-based or quarter-based schedules. Others may divide the year into smaller terms.

      What are assignments like in online classes?

      Online course assignments will vary depending on the discipline. In general, assignments are similar to on-campus program assignments. Students can expect research papers and proctored exams as well as online-specific assignments such as posting on online discussion boards. Group projects are also a definite possibility.

      How do students take proctored exams and tests in online classes?

      Not all online students will need to take proctored exams. If so, online students may have to go to a local testing site with an on-site proctor. They may also need to take virtually monitored exams online, where a proctor or software program can make sure that test-takers are not cheating.

      What should students know before enrolling in online classes?

      Prospective students should always visit the admissions page for their online college of interest. Requirements for the degree program of interest will vary based on the program and the school.

      Registration processes are normally the same for online and on-campus classes but prospective online students should check up requirements

      Are there ways to accelerate the completion of an online degree?

      Sometimes it is possible to earn a degree faster online.

      Competency-based online learning programs, for example, will allow students to move quickly through the material they already know and spend more time on unfamiliar topics.




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