Is online learning right for you?
Before registering for an online course there are some minimum technical requirements you should meet:
You will need regular access to a personal computer and be comfortable using software to produce documents of various formats. Most courses require word-processing software. Individual courses may have additional software requirements such as programs for playing audio or video, creating spreadsheets or other specific software applications. In some instances, it may be necessary to upgrade your version of Flash or Java to meet course requirements. Smartphones and tablets may be used to complete some tasks not all course features are available on these devices. A laptop or desktop computer (Windows 7 or higher or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher is recommended).
High-speed Internet access is highly recommended for the best learning experience. Many public WiFi hotspots will allow you to access your course, however, it is recommended you have a reliable, accessible connection for the duration of your course.
A web browser is required. Courses may be offered using different learning management systems which have their own preferred browser:
- Desire2Learn and Moodle - optimized for Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox browsers
- BlackBoard – Internet Explorer 11 or higher, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Chrome or Firefox browsers
If you meet the technical requirements, you have the necessary tools to access and work with course materials. Now you need to determine if online learning is the right fit for your learning and lifestyle needs.
Is Online Learning a Good Fit for Me?
Reflecting on the following statements will allow determining whether online learning is right for you.
- I am a self-motivated and disciplined individual.
- I am able to work independently and can adhere to set deadlines.
- I have strong time management skills.
- I do not require face-to-face interaction to learn successfully.
- I can devote a minimum of six hours per week to complete assignments, prepare for tests and exams, participate in group discussions and review course materials.
- I can operate basic applications and programs on a computer (e.g. word processor, web browsers, file managers, etc.) and can download and install software, if required.
- I am able to create, save and attach files (to email) on my computer.
- I am comfortable interacting with people in a virtual environment (e.g. discussion forums, email, chat rooms, etc.)
If you answered “yes” to most of these statements you would be comfortable interacting in an online course environment. Having a comfort level for online learning is the first step to success. There are additional strategies that you can adopt to ensure success such as:
- Setting up a quiet place to work, free from distractions.
- Review the entire course and plan your time in advance (create a schedule) so that you are aware of all the course requirements, due dates and instructor expectations.
- Check into your course on a regular basis. It is recommended you login in daily to check for updates.
- Be an active participant in the course. Engage in group discussions and chats, communicate through course email and participate in group work if applicable.
- Do not hesitate to ask for help when you need it. There are many academic, technical and library services supports and resources available in the course. You can also reach out to other students and your instructor.
If you answered “no” to most of these statements online learning may not be right for you at this time and you should consider other modes of course delivery. For a complete listing of in-class and hybrid part-time course offerings, visit our Part-Time Learning website (insert link) to find a course that meets your needs.
What is Expected of Me?
You will cover the same material in the same amount of time as you would in a traditional classroom setting. You may spend less time with your instructor and fellow classmates and more time learning on your own but your learning experience will be no less demanding. You'll have to be disciplined and motivated to get the most out of your online learning experience.
At a minimum, you will need to log into your online course once a week. Some instructors may also impose additional login requirements.
The general expectation is that you should spend 4-6 hours per week reviewing course materials, working on assignments and preparing for tests and exams.
You must adhere to the course schedule/timelines and assessment deadlines to ensure the best chance of success. This information is made available upon first login.
You must be an active participant in class. This means you need to participate in class discussions, chats and class activities.
Students in online courses are required to adhere to all College policies (e.g. Student Code of Conduct, Plagiarism Policy, and Academic Dates and Deadlines).
Mid-term tests and final exams (where applicable) may be administered in different ways depending on the course. Some courses allow you to complete exams online (either proctored or unproctored) while others require you to travel to a campus to write in person. If you live more than 50 km from a Centennial campus, arrangements may be made to write a proctored exam at an alternative (approved) location.