How Online Courses Work

How Online Courses WorkOnline education often appears daunting to people only familiar with the traditional brick-and-mortar classroom setting for school. The online school logistics of selecting an online school, registering, selecting courses, virtually attending classes, studying and submitting homework, interacting with other students and participating in group projects, receiving grades, communicating with instructors, and perhaps even pursuing and attaining degrees, may all seem overwhelming.

Don’t be afraid, though, because you can do it! Online courses allow you a convenience and flexibility not available with traditional schooling when you have to attend classes based on a set class schedule of specific days and times.

Here’s How Online Courses Work

Online school logistics are not really as overwhelming or intimidating as you might initially think they are. Just take it one step at a time. Check out this overview.

  • Selecting an online school: The first step is to find an online school with the course/s or degree program that interests you. Here at Web College Search, we make it easy for you to do that. Just choose the correct items from the dropdown menu for degree, category, and subject of courses you are considering, and our custom search engine will provide you with a list of schools that meet your criteria. Review the information we provide to gather all the information you need to help you make a decision.
  • Registering for or selecting courses: After you have selected a school with the course or program you want to explore, you either register for the course or apply to the school. Registering for courses is usually as easy as browsing the list of available online courses, selecting one or more, and paying for them. You typically then receive an email with links to your student portal, which is your course site and the location of your materials, assignments, and everything you need to take and complete the course.
  • Registration Fees. If you are actually applying for an online degree program, you must usually pay a minimal application fee (such as $20), and complete the application that often asks about prior education, employment, and career goals. Some colleges require an essay regarding your interest in enrolling and how the degree will help you reach personal or career goals. You must also submit transcripts from high school or any prior college education. Upon acceptance, the process is similar to that described above for individual courses.
  • Virtually attending classes: To virtually attend your class or access your course materials, just follow the links provided to you by the school. Take time to look around and follow the tutorials many colleges offer to help new online students learn how to navigate through the online classroom and other site features. Pay attention to any stated schedule, such as for a live presentation and for due date to submit homework.
  • Studying, submitting homework, and taking exams: Determine your own studying schedule based on the time you have available, with whatever works best for you. Once you complete your assignment, and are sure it’s ready to submit, follow the instructor’s or the course site’s guidelines for submissions. This usually involves uploading a Word document (or Excel or PowerPoint, depending on what’s required) in the appropriate area by or before the specified due date. The format for taking exams varies with each school, but may involve an online exam or an open-book exam that you write in a Word document and submit.
  • Interacting with other students and participating in group projects: Many online programs offer students a number of ways to interact with one another online, in addition to simply sharing emails with one another. You can often post on discussion boards (very similar to posting in a forum or in a Facebook group), enter chat rooms, or occasionally participate in live presentations. Likewise, for group projects, the instructor might open designated chat rooms or discussion boards where you and other students can discuss and collaborate on projects.
  • Receiving grades: Instructors usually return your graded homework and projects into the assignment areas of your student portal so you can download them and read the feedback. At the end of a course, you will receive a grade report and may usually access and print an informal transcript. For a formal transcript, you may request one and it will be sent to you via regular postal mail. Some schools provide them free of charge, while others request a small fee.
  • Communicating with instructors: In addition to email, most online instructors provide “office hours” during which you can call, chat online, or sometimes use a real-time application such as Skype or WebEx to see and speak to each other.
  • Pursuing and attaining degrees: If you start out with one online course, or a few courses, and decide that online learning is definitely the way to go, good for you! Continue to follow the same individual course procedure. When you complete your degree program, you will receive your diploma, which is just as legitimate as one earned at a brick-and-mortar college.

Are YOU Ready for Your First Online Course?

We are here to help you find the school and the online course or degree program that fits your needs or interests. Look for the convenient sign-up form and fill it in, so you can receive valuable information on your ideal online course or degree program at the school of your choice. Yes, you CAN successfully be an online student. Get started today!

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