What to Expect in an Online Class

[Lindsay:] Good morning everyone! Thank you for
joining us today. Welcome to the webinar. My name is Lindsay and I’m with
Enrollment Services here at the Division of Continuing Education at the
University of Colorado at Boulder. Today we’re gonna be covering what it’s like
to take an online class with Continuing Education. I’d like to introduce today’s
presenters: we have Amy Lee and Nik Hunnicutt. Amy is our online program coordinator
and Nik is one of our instructional designers. Now for what we’ll be
covering today, we’re gonna go over what to expect in an online class
and we’ll also talk about some tips on how to be successful. We’ll go over some
of the frequently asked questions that we get and then finally we’ll answer any
questions that you have. On your dashboard, you should see a spot
to enter some questions. So go ahead and do that as the presentation is going on
and we’ll address those all at the end, once we’ve gone through everything. So without further delay, I’ll pass it over to Nik and Amy. to Nik and Amy. awesome well thank you
so much Lindsay so one of the questions [Nik:] Awesome. We’ll thank you so much Lindsay. So one of the questions that we get more often than any other
probably, is if our online courses are just as rigorous as face-to-face classes.
And the answer is yes, in fact, we often have the same instructors teaching the
classes. For example, Anthropology 2010, Physical Anthropology, is often taught by
the same person face-to-face as well as online. We use the same course level
objectives as well as module level objectives in these courses that you’re
going to see on main campus and the same credit that you receive on your
transcript. The big difference between online and face-to-face is that
online provides flexibility. You will have weekly deadlines but you can
structure it in a way that make sense for your life. Maybe you have to work in
the evening, maybe you have to work in the morning. Online provides that
flexibility but the expectations and the course quality is the same as what you
would see on a face-to-face campus class. [Amy:] Students usually have access to an
online turn based course two days prior to the course starting
day for fall in spring and four days prior for summer. So this is a good
chance for you to look over the course and get familiar with the course
platform and structure and the most important thing is to read the syllabus.
So the slide show here is an example of a course homepage. Some instructors will
post a link to the syllabus from their home page and if you do not see the
syllabus link here, you can click on the “Modules” tab, which is on the left-hand
side of the navigation bar and you should be able to find it there. So in the syllabus,
you will first find the information about your instructor’s contact info and
if your instructor holds online office hours. You will also find the course
description, overview, objectives, and required reading and textbooks. Another
important item in the syllabus is the types of assessments, such as written
assignments, quizzes, exams, and online discussions. The grading criteria section
will let you know the weight for each assessment. Also really important is
about policies. There are course policies and the university policies. Course
policies such as late assignment submission. And keep in
mind that even though you do not need to log in to the course at a certain time
and day, you do need to submit a certain assignment or participate in a certain
discussion forum by a certain date. And often times instructors do not accept
late assignments submission unless you can show proof of your extenuating
circumstances, such as a medical documentation. So watch out for the
course policies carefully. And there are university policies such as including
information on plagiarism and honor code. Some instructors also
put information about technology requirements when you take their course.
So you can see there is a lot of information you need to
know, so make sure you read the syllabus before you proceed to the modules. [Nik:] Speaking of the syllabus, one thing that you’re going to find in a lot of our
classes is a syllabus quiz. Because you’re not meeting on the first day of
class to go through the syllabus and ask any questions there, the syllabus
quiz really gets everybody on the same page. The instructor identifies certain
pieces of the syllabus they want you to pay special attention to and will often
ask questions about it. Lectures are also something that’s a
little bit different in an online environment. Here, the majority of our
lectures are video based. And so what this means is that you can re-watch a
lecture over and over again until you understand the content. But a lot of
times the the lecture content is going to be extremely similar to what you’re
going to have on main campus, except these are often chunked into smaller
pieces. So instead of sitting through a 50-minute or an hour and 15 minute
lecture, these lectures are often 10 to 15 minutes, just multiple versions of
those in that small timeframe. [Amy:] Online discussions are held weekly or bimonthly
and some are held more frequently in the week. You will find these discussion
forums under the discussions tab on the left-hand side navigation bar.
Discussions are held asynchronously, which means you do not have to be online
and discuss a certain topic with your peers at a certain date and time. You can
write down your answers in the word document and then copy paste to the
discussion board. Oftentimes, you also have to comment or provide feedback to
your peers postings. The example shown in this slide, you can see the due day
for each posting and often times you can find the information in the course
calendar or syllabus as well. So when participating in online discussions,
please write your submissions in a professional voice and interact
respectfully with your peers. [Nik:] So let’s talk a little bit about assignments. So
while the majority of your assignments are probably going to be completed in
Microsoft Word, each class has a variety of assignments really depending on the
discipline and the course objectives for that class. For example, some classes
require video projects or development of websites, maybe a PowerPoint presentation.
Our learning management system, Canvas, accepts all these different formats and
so the process for submitting it is very similar no matter what type of
assignment you’re submitting. [Amy:] Quizzes and exams are under the assignments or
sometimes instructors will post links in modules. They could be either multiple
choice or essay questions. Before taking each quiz, read the information regarding
time limit and number of attempts allowed for each quiz. And make sure you
have reliable internet connection before you start the quiz. And keep in mind that
you are not allowed to exceed the time limit. Some of you might have experience
with previous CU learning management system called desire 2 learn,
which let you go over the time limit for a minute or two and sometimes even
longer. But with Canvas, when the time is up, that’s it.
So here just a quick is example of a multiple-choice quiz. So you
can see it’s quite self-explanatory. If your quiz has only multiple choice
questions, usually you will be able to see your grade immediately in the
gradebook. And if they are essay questions then you will need to wait
until the instructor finished grading and uploaded the grade in the gradebook. [Nik:] So time management is very important in
an online class. I would recommend selecting a time and a day throughout –
multiple days throughout the week when you’re going
focus on your schoolwork. It’s really easy if you don’t do this to sort of
leave everything to the end of the week and then run out of time.
So for example, if you’re working on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Fridays,
maybe dedicate Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday to the course and making sure
that you’re working it working in the course for a couple hours each day. You
want to be self-directed, the instructor can help but you still have to do the
work and that’s something that’s difficult to do if you don’t have a plan.
So I recommend finding the best time for you based on your work schedule and then
plan your whole course schedule around that. [Amy:] And it is really important to
review your grades regularly in the gradebook so that you are aware of your
progress and if there is any required coursework missing when you submit an
assignment. And again the gradebook could be found in the navigation bar. And
reading instructors feedback on your written assignments or quizzes so that
you continue making improvement throughout the course. If you have any
questions or concerns regarding the grades you received, you should contact
the instructor right away. Another best practice that I recommend is logging in every day.
This not only keeps it at the top of your mind but maybe it even makes you
dream about your course a little bit, which is always a good thing. Discussion boards really take the place
of the face-to-face discussion that you would have in an in-person class. And so
it’s very important to stay up-to-date. What we see often times in our classes
is an initial post that’s due on Tuesday or Wednesday and this is oftentimes a
little bit longer post, responding to some type of prompt. And then a follow-up
post that’s due on Thursday or Friday and this is where you have the
opportunity to interact and respond to other classmates in your course. You’re
also probably going to find the instructor is going to be pretty active
in your discussion and so if you go off the rails a little bit, hopefully your
instructor will get in there and guide you to where you want to be.
Don’t be like this ostrich. [Amy:] Both Chrome and Firefox are the supported
browsers for Canvas, so you may access your course using whichever browser
you prefer. However it is highly recommended that you use Google Chrome,
especially when viewing the video lectures. You can access Canvas using
your mobile phones web browser and there are also Canvas apps designed for
students. So you can perform many of the course activities using Canvas mobile
app, like you can view your course content, access the grades, submit
assignments, post messages to the discussion, and you can even take quizzes.
OIT Office also has a student support videos for Canvas available online. So if
you are interested, please to “oit.colorado.edu” and select Services,
Teaching and Learning Tools, Canvas, and then Student Support. So the composition
hub is basically the online equivalent [Nik:] So the Composition Hub is basically the online equivalent of the CU Writing Center. So if you’ve
ever been to the Writing Center in Norlin Library, this is really just the
online equivalent. With the tutors there, they can help you with brainstorming
ideas for an assignment as well as drafting, revising, or polishing a paper
or other presentations. This service is available synchronously through Google
Hangouts or asynchronously through an email based consultation, whichever works
best for you. [Amy:] Textbooks are available in the CU
bookstore. You may simply drop by the UMC bookstore or purchase by going to the
bookstore website, which is www.class.colorado.edy and do a
course search and then you’ll see the link to find your textbook. You may also
purchase the book through any other online resources such as Amazon or
usedbook.com or borrow from a library. Just need to make sure that you locate
the correct edition of the textbook. You should contact the instructor directly
if you have a question about an assignment, grade, or the course content.
Again you can find the instructor contact information on the course home
page or in the syllabus. If you need technical support or have a question
about your Canvas account, please contact the OIT office at [email protected]
And if you have a question about your registration or a need further
assistance, feel free to contact me in the online credit office at [email protected] [Lindsay:] Awesome, thanks so much, Amy and Nik. Before we get to the FAQ’s,
I just wanted to remind everyone to submit any questions you might have,
again on that dashboard there’s a spot for you to enter those questions. So now
let’s go to some of our frequently asked questions. First one, how long does it
take to finish an online class? [Nik:] Great question, so we have a variety of terms
for online classes. We have 14 week classes, we have 10 week classes, and even
over the summer time we have five week classes. So it really depends on the time
of year. I’d encourage you to go look at the class schedule and pay special
attention to the schedule because that will tell you exactly how long the
course will be. [Lindsay:] Awesome, next question: Is going to be do I have to log into the class at a specific time? [Nik:] Good question. So the
answer is no. We have are all of our classes are asynchronous, meaning that
you have the ability to log on at a time that works for you. There’s not a
specific time, for example at 8 o’clock on Wednesday night, that you need
to participate. It’s really up to you. That being said there are weekly
deadlines throughout the week that are important that you meet. You just have
the option to complete the work at a time that works for you. [Lindsay:] Awesome. Does an online course
count the same as an on campus course? [Amy:] Yes, you do receive the
same University credits. The course will appear on your transcript automatically
as any other classes and the grade will be averaged to your overall GPA. So it
doesn’t show as an online course on your transcript. [L:] Awesome. What should I expect if
I’m on the waitlist for an online course? [Amy:]
Students on the waitlist will have access to the class in Canvas up until
the drop/add deadline. So it is recommended that you follow the first
week’s calendar and read the course materials, prepare for the assignments,
you can even even participate in the online discussion., so that you won’t fall
behind if someone drops and you get you enrolled in. But keep in mind if you do
not get enrolled by the drop/add deadline, we will purge the waitlist and you will not continue to have access to the course. [L:] How many classes can I take online towards my
degree at CU? Generally, you can transfer 30 credit hours towards your
degree program, not really a transfer, it’s going to show on your transcript
automatically. But 30 credit hours. And when in doubt, it is recommended that you
can tell your academic advisor or talk to one of our academic advisors to
confirm, especially when you are taking online courses to fulfill a core or
general ed requirement. There’s also another restriction to keep
in mind. We do offer about 15 online self-paced courses and the policy for CU
degree students is that you can be active in no more than two online
self-paced courses at a time. But you can always complete one or both courses
and register for more. [L:] Awesome. That actually goes right into some of the questions we’ve
been getting, which is great. The first one is can you tell us a little bit more
about self-paced courses? [Amy:] The self-paced courses, students can register
anytime, any day. And then you have up to six months from your enrollment date to
complete the course. And we do have a policy that the minimum timing to
complete a self-paced course is three weeks. But also when you have access to
the course, read the syllabus. Oftentimes the instructor will have the restriction
for how fast you can go through their course.
For example, the instructor will let you know no more than two assignments or one
assignment per seven-day period. So some courses it does take longer, a lot longer
than just three weeks. And so for self-paced courses, you have about 40
days to review the course and look at the platform. If you
decide it is not a course for you, you can drop within 40 calendar days
with for tuition refund. [L:] Good reminder. Okay so back to term based
classes, we have a couple questions about this. Are all of the assignments
posted at the beginning of the semester or do they get kind of unlocked as time
goes on and then with that how far ahead can a student work in a term based class?
it’s really I’d say for the majority of [Nik:] I’d say for the majority of the term based courses, it’s a cohort
model. And so you’re going to see probably on Saturday
Sunday, the weeks ahead will be made available and then the next week ahead.
And the reason that it’s done like that is because they really the instructors
really want there to be a sense of community for the for the students. And
so if you’re going along studying the same thing at the same time, it really
encourages you to be able to interact with your students, other students
that are going through the same content, having the same questions about the
course content. So for the vast majority of our classes, it really is a
week-by-week type of thing as far as the course content is concerned. [Lindsay:] Thanks,
this student has some questions about if there’s additional instructions on how
to use the portals, if they’ve never taken an online class. I think you guys
mentioned something about OIT but are there some good places to go if you’ve
never taken one before? [Nik:] Yeah, I mean Canvas is our
learning management system and so you can certainly watch any tutorials that
canvas produces as well as in individual classes. We actually encourage our
instructors to do course tours because we know that the different online
courses are set up a little bit differently and so the course tour
really is designed to orient the students to that particular class. And so
they know ok this is where I’m going to find this on a weekly basis, I need to go
here, that kind of thing. So really pay attention to the course tour when you
log into the class for the first time. But feel free to look at any of the
resources that Canvas has put out or our our main OIT group has put
out as well. [Lindsay:] Ok awesome. Always good to ask for help right and better sooner
rather than later is always a good rule of thumb. Okay and our last question
and this might be a good question for an advisor but maybe you guys know too. If
the person is retaking an online class to help their GPA or better their grade,
you don’t know how that affects their credits from the in-person class, if they
took it in person previously. It definitely will, the new grade will be
averaged to your overall GPA but you will not receive the credits if you are repeating a class. So keeping my is not going towards
your total required credit hours for your degree program. [Lindsay:] Yeah awesome. Do online course instructors hold office hours? [Amy:] A lot of them do and
most of them are online office hours. Some of them because they are main
canvas professors, so they offer to to meet online students face to face. So
check in the syllabus to see how you can best talk to, communicate with the
instructor. Yeah we also have ones that are happy to meet over the phone or
through Skype or something like that if you’re not based here in Boulder. [Lindsay:] Okay and then the last question is how do labs work for online classes? [Nik:]
I don’t believe we offer a ton of classes that have labs currently. Do you
have anything to add to that Amy? [Amy:] I know that we have geography 1001 and 1011.
These two courses are for credit hour course and one credit is a lab work but
I still there’s not there’s not like a classroom you have to go to. The instructor
will provide information how you can fulfill these lab work for that credit
hour. [Lindsay:] So awesome. Ok, this one we get all the time. When do students get access to
their classes on Canvas? [Amy:] So as mentioned earlier for spring and fall,
students usually have access to the course two days prior to the course
starting date and oftentimes I will send a reminder a week before and also the
the course starting date. So you will receive an email from [email protected]
And for summer, students will have access to the course four days
prior to the course starting date. Again I will send you the .
email reminder. If it’s a self-paced course,
usually within 24 to 48 hours from the day of your enrollment, you will have
access to the course in Canvas. So if you do not, always contact the office to find
out why what’s going on and make sure that your registration, your
enrollment went through. And then our last question is gonna be about
textbooks. So he’s asking if there are textbooks for classes or if it’s just
videos. [Amy:] Depends on courses. A lot of courses do have required textbooks and
some instructors will put the PDF in their courses. So check the syllabus and
check the CuU bookstore website and they’ll let you know if they are required
textbooks or you can borrow or purchase. [L:] Okay all right that’s it! Thanks so much
everyone. Thank you again to Nik and Amy. Thank you all for joining us today and
for having such great questions. And then I did want to say one last thing we do
have a few upcoming webinars.There’s one about financial aid for non-degree
students and then also if you’re not quite set up in the system as a student
yet, an option to learn more about how that works as well. So if you want to
join us for those or hear about any of our other upcoming events, you can see
them at the website which ce.colorado.edu/events and it’s
there on the screen as well. But thank you again to Nik and Amy and thanks for
everyone for joining us. Thanks!

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