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What You Can Expect in an Online Course

Traditional face-to-face courses are different from online courses where students do not meet in a classroom at a prescribed time. Online students attend class, study and learn at times convenient to their schedules. However, online students are not free of time constraints. Online courses have specific deadlines for assignments and tests.

Each online course has a syllabus, relevant course material and interactive forums for discussion in the course. Communication between the instructor and the student are not simultaneous, but occur through e-mail, the discussion board, or chat rooms.

Time Commitment

Since there will be no face-to-face class lecture, it is imperative that you be conscientious, motivated and self-disciplined. While most online courses are flexible in terms of when you put in the time, expect to average about the same amount of time as a normal lecture course -- about three hours total a week per credit hour. This comes out to nine hours per week for a 3 credit course. Note also that most courses are NOT self-paced. Assignments are due by specific dates. You are expected to be aware of the due date for assignments and to complete and submit all assignments on time.


A list of assignments and their due dates are normally included in the course calendar or course syllabus. You are expected to refer to the calendar and to complete all assignments on time. If you have difficulty with the assignments or have any questions, be sure to contact the instructor.

In some online courses, you may be required to come to campus for lab work, specific course assignments or to take tests. Be sure to check the syllabus to see if you will be required to come to campus for any reason.

Interaction with Other Students

You will have opportunities to interact with other students enrolled in the course. Students are encouraged to communicate with each other by email, by use of the discussion board, or by use of the chat room. Interacting with other students in the course is encouraged and will enhance your learning.

A portion of the course grade may consist of "class participation". Class participation is normally accomplished through use of the discussion board. The instructor will provide guidelines for class participation and grading.

Testing procedures

Instructors may choose to give exams online, at the on-campus testing centers, or off-site using an authorized proctor. Be sure you understand at the onset of the course the testing procedures your instructor will be using. Check the syllabus for your course for testing procedures specific to your course. Students are responsible to find an off-campus proctor when testing off-campus.

If your instructor uses the campus testing centers for testing, it is recommended that you contact the testing centers in advance to verify hours of operation and/or make an appointment.

Cumberland campus:  (301)784-5551

Bedford Co. campus: (814) 652-9528 ext. 6204

Technical Problems

At some time during the semester, you may have to deal with computer problems and/or technical difficulties with the Internet or your own computer. Please note: Technical difficulties do occur. However, technical difficulties do not excuse late or incomplete assignments. Be prepared, and never wait until the last minute to complete assignments.