How Online Courses Work: FAQs

Not really sure what an online course is or what to expect from your experience in taking one? This should address some of the most commonly asked questions.

How does an online course work?

Online courses at COD are administered through Blackboard, a commonly used learning management system and where you will complete the majority of your online coursework. There, you will be able to find your course syllabus and calendar and access your assignments, tests and course discussions. You will be expected to log on to Blackboard frequently, every day in many cases, and sometimes over the weekend.

Each course is different, but the majority of online courses are structured just like traditional courses. Work must be completed by certain deadlines (you can't wait until the last week to do it all), which are usually spaced week-by-week. You will need to log on to look at new lecture material and to complete any assignments that the professor has put on the site.

In most cases, you will also be responsible for participating in weekly discussions. These are done through online discussion boards, and you will generally be responsible for a certain number of posts or interactions each week.

Generally speaking, with the exception of not going to a physical classroom each week, your online course will operate just as any other course you've taken, with several different types of work and participation counting towards your grade.

What is a hybrid course?

Hybrid courses are a mix of online and traditional classroom education. In these courses, a portion of the usual time students would spend in the physical classroom is replaced with online education. This allows instructors to take advantage of some of the best features that both online and face-to-face education have to offer.

Hybrids can be a great introduction to online education, especially for students who aren't ready to commit to an entirely online course. They can also make it easier to balance taking courses with working without giving up all the benefits of face-to-face learning. COD offers a wide range of hybrid courses--check the course catalog for more information.

How are online classes different from traditional classes?

In many ways, online classes are no different than traditional courses. The coursework is essentially the same, as are the expectations. 

Of course, not everything about online learning is identical. In an exclusively online course, you will not be going to a physical class location and can learn where and when you'd like. This has some advantages and some disadvantages, as it is more convenient but will require you to be more proactive about completing course work and ensuring you stay on pace with the class.

Will I need to come to campus? 

The majority of online courses at COD are delivered entirely online and will not necessitate students coming to campus. However, there are some online courses that will require you to come to campus for placement testing or for proctored exams. Additionally, all hybrid courses require you to visit campus or another site for at least some of your coursework, whether it's lectures, tests, labs, clinical practice or observations.

To learn if a course requires a campus visit, check in myACCESS

Can I work at my own pace?

Yes and no. You can complete your work any time of day or night that you want. This is part of what makes online classes so great for working adults.

However, you will have to meet weekly deadlines. This means that you will have to keep pace and ensure that you are completing work regularly so that you will not miss these deadlines and fall behind in the course.

What can you do to succeed in an online class?

Many of the things that will make you successful in an online class are the same things that make you successful in a traditional class: completing course reading assignments, asking questions, watching lectures, and studying on a regular schedule.

But because online courses are student-centered, a lot of your success depends on your active participation. For each credit hour you are taking, you will need to spend three to four hours completing the requirements of the course. So for a three hour course, you can expect to commit anywhere from nine to twelve hours a week. 

Will I feel isolated in an online course?

If you are the type of person who needs face-to-face interaction to thrive, then, yes, you might feel isolated in an online course. But if talking with your classmates and professors over email, discussion boards, and other methods of online communication works for you, you should be fine, as you'll get a lot of this kind of interaction. You can expect that participation and serious engagement will make up a substantial part of your grade.

In fact, because everyone must post to a discussion board in an online class, you can get to know your teacher and classmates very well – sometimes even better than you would in a traditional classroom.

What if I need help?

While you may not be on campus, that doesn't mean you're completely isolated from the resources COD provides. You can contact tech support, COD online student support, faculty members, and staff working in every department in the school, from registration to the library, if you need help. You can find a list of contacts here to help support you in your educational journey.

College of DuPage Online

425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL

60137 (630) 942-2490

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