About Online Courses
What is an online course?
An online course is a course that is taken via the Internet. Online courses and face-to-face courses have the same learning goals, objectives, and amount of work. However, online students require a different kind of self-motivation, because in a typical online course, individual attention is given only when requested. Although you can set your own daily schedule, you still have due dates for your coursework. Online courses at Spoon River College are not individual, self-study courses. Students interact with the instructor and each other through e-mail, Canvas messaging, online discussions, and sometimes group work. Typically, online students participate in their courses three or more days per week.
How does an online class work? How does learning work in online courses?
Like face-to-face classes, online classes include weekly assignments, readings, and discussions centered on the course’s objectives and competencies. The obvious difference is that you are not going to a physical classroom to interact with your classmates and instructor. Learning in an online classroom still requires involvement and participation, but the motivation for this must come primarily from the student. Students are responsible for posting their informed opinions and thoughts, and also responsible for responding to classmates. Some students find that participating in online discussions suits them well because online discussions allow for thought and planning before commenting, unlike in a traditional classroom.
I work part-time/full-time. Do I need to be online at any certain times?
Since a majority of our online classes are asynchronous, there are no required hours to be in class on the campus of Spoon River College. You can access your class from home, a friend or relative’s home, a library, or from a hotel room while traveling – anywhere there is a computer and Internet access. Remember, successful online students typically participate in their classes at least 3–4 times a week. However, there are some classes that could require a synchronous online meeting. It’s a good idea to check the course description to make sure that there are no requirements that would interfere with your schedule.
How many hours a week should I expect to be online for my class?
The amount of time that you spend in your online course is actually more than a face-to-face course. Since you do not meet in a physical location for class, course information and activities are accessed online. Depending on the required assignments for the class, you should be spending anywhere from 8–15 hours per week, per class. Some activities may be offline, such as reading assignments from a required textbook.
Do I have to come to campus for anything (i.e. exams, research)?
If you are taking an online class, you typically do not have to come to campus for anything related to the course. However, different instructors have different policies. Some instructors may require that any exams or make-up exams be completed in a proctored setting which could require a visit one of our four SRC locations.
Additionally, if you need to conduct research for your online class, you may do that via the Internet search, online databases offered via the Library/LRC page on the SRC website, the Canton campus library/LRC, or your local library.
If I don’t have to come to campus for exams, how do I take them online?
Online exams are provided through the Learning Management System (Canvas). There are a variety of ways that instructors deliver online exams:
- Timed exams require quiet, uniterrupted time, since they must be finished in one sitting.
- Untimed exams allow students to begin and end them during a period of a few hours to a few days (depending on the instructor).
- Open book exams often require students to seek out the information to construct an answer.
Not all online classes include traditional exams. Most classes provide other means of assessment such as papers, projects, or group projects. Most online classes also include intensive reading and writing.
Are online classes easier than face-to-face classes?
In a word: no. Depending on your study habits and willingness to participate, some students consider online classes to be more difficult than face-to-face classes.
It’s important to note that a successful online student must be self-motivated and cannot procrastinate. Many online classes contain the same amount of information as in a face-to-face course, but meet for eight weeks instead of sixteen. Therefore, if a student falls behind, catching up can be very difficult.
Online classes are also not independent study courses. They have a weekly schedule just like a face-to-face course. Students are able to log in to their classes and complete their assignments late at night if they choose, but each assignment will have a due date just like in face-to-face classes. As in any class, looking ahead each week to plan study time accordingly usually creates successful outcomes.
One last thing: many students thrive in online courses. “I wish I had more time to think of an answer for this discussion” is no longer an issue, and many students really enjoy the extra time they can take to formulate an opinion.
Can I meet with the instructor or a tutor if I need help?
Yes! You always have the option to meet with your instructor or a tutor. In fact, it’s encouraged! As online students, you can meet with your instructors in person, by phone, or other online meeting tool such as Google Meet. You can meet with a tutor in the Canton or Macomb LRC’s as well as access online tutoring 24/7 through Tutor.com. See the Student Success Resources web page for more information.
What computer skills do I need to take an online class?
To be successful in an online class, a student should be able to:
- Open a web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari and navigate and log in to SRC’s Learning Management System, Canvas.
- Search and access websites with a web browser.
- Understand basic web/Internet navigation.
- Copy and paste text from one document to another.
- Upload documents or files into the Learning Management System (LMS) for submission.
What are the technology requirements for an online class?
- Access to a reliable computer with an Internet connection.
- A back-up computer (examples: library, school, friend or relative’s computer).
- A web browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari (Note: we don’t recommend using Microsoft Internet Explorer or Edge with Canvas).
- An email account: All students are provided with a student email account (Gmail).
- A word processing program such as Microsoft Word. SRC students have access to Office 365 as well as Google tools via their email account.
NOTE: SRC does not provide support for personal computers of students. Students must contact their own Internet service provider for help with Internet access problems and are responsible for all access charges incurred in connection to the Internet, LMS (Canvas), and all websites affiliated with https://www.src.edu.
What if I don’t have a computer at home?
It’s not completely necessary to have a computer at home if you’re willing to commit to using a computer at your local library, a friend or relative’s house, or one of the Learning Resource Centers. As described above, you need to have a backup plan that consists of one of those locations in case you would have computer or Internet connection issues. However, most students take online courses because they are convenient. For most students, the best scenario for taking an online course is having a computer at home that can be accessed whenever the student needs it.
What if I have computer problems and can’t access my class?
As described above, it is extremely important to create a backup plan in case you encounter technical issues with your computer. Make sure you have additional access at your local library, a friend or relative’s house, or one of SRC’s Learning Resource Centers in Canton or Macomb, and plan accordingly.
It is also extremely important not to wait until the last minute to complete assignments online – you never know when you might lose Internet connectivity or have a computer issue. If you are experiencing an issue accessing your course, check the SRC website. If there is an issue with Canvas, it will typically be posted on the home page. If you don’t see a message there, it could be an issue with your own computer. Call the help desk at 309–649–6381 to see if they can assist you, and then call or email your instructor to let him or her know that you are having issues. This is especially important if you are trying to meet a deadline and are worried about the assignment being late.
How do I know if I am ready to take an online course?
If you can send and receive e-mail, can browse the Internet, and have self-discipline and motivation to learn and complete the class, then you are probably ready. If you are not sure if an online class is for you, you might want to take this self-evaluation.
I’m ready to take an online course, where do I start?
How do I find out which courses are offered online?
Do online classes differ in price than face to face?
See the Tuition & Fees page on the SRC web site.
Where do I register for an online course?
Once I’m registered, how do I access my online course?
All courses are accessible through the Learning Management System, Canvas. Once a student logs in to the Student, Faculty, and Staff portal, a link to Canvas is listed along with other services. Student login information can be found on the Help tab in My SRC.