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What is an online course and is it right for me?

Computers have fundamentally altered our lives in many ways.  A growing new trend involves taking college courses via the Internet.  Statewide 9,599 web courses were offered during the 1998-99 academic term.  In the 2003-04 school year 119,096 different online courses were offered throughout the state of North Carolina.  Online course offerings increased 1,140% in just a five-year timeframe.

While there are no official prerequisites for most web courses, there are some considerations that each student must make.  The online method of delivery is different from the classroom environment in several ways.

In "bricks and mortar" classrooms the student has the opportunity to question the instructor or rely on him or her to explain the material.  With Internet courses the instructor remains a valuable resource; however, the day-to-day instruction is not there and requires the student to be proactive in his or her learning.

The student must be self-disciplined in order to be successful.  Time management and organizational skills are a must in order to excel.  Because there is no official class time, students can easily postpone work in order to have "enough time to do it correctly."  This can quickly become problematic.  Due to the nature of the course, students are required to do a great deal of internet searching and reading.  Both can be time consuming.  Often the time required is not exactly known beforehand and may take longer than a student initially anticipated.  If procrastination creeps in, the work required may become an insurmountable task.  Sometimes a student may become so overwhelmed that he or she may not complete or submit the required work.  Eventually the student may either withdraw from the course or receive a failing grade.

Critical Reading

A characteristic of online course delivery is the amount of reading required.  In an online course students must keep up with reading assignments and comprehend what they read.

Students must have certain computer and internet skills in order to do well in web courses.  Students should be familiar with the following:

  • Experience with e-mail (including how to attach documents).
  • Using search engines.
  • Understanding URLs and web addresses.
  • Bookmarking pages.
  • Saving web pages.
  • Familiarity with netiquette, emoticons, and abbreviations.
  • Reading large amounts of text on screen.

When using Moodle students may be required to know or perform the following:

  • Respond to discussion forum questions.
  • Have access to Microsoft Word.
  • Submit assignments properly.
  • Cut and paste text.
  • Troubleshoot within Moodle.
  • Use Firefox proficiently.
  • Check their grades.
  • Familiarize themselves with Moodle functions.
  • Check their SCC Office 365 email regularly.
  • Find contact information for the instructor and students.
  • Access and calculate their grades.
  • Access their assignments and syllabus.
  • Print documents (e.g., study guides, weekly assignments, et cetera).
  • E-mail their instructor and classmates.



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