What is a Typical Online Course Like?

For students who have never taken an online course before, the concept can be somewhat foreign.

Here is a video created by Xtranormal Movie Maker. In it, two students discover the similarities and differences between face to face courses and online courses.

To give you a basic idea, the following scenario describes a typical experience for a KUMC online student, Mr. Jay Hawk.

Jay Hawk enrolled in a KUMC online course and it is the first day of the course. Jay goes to http://mail.kumc.edu/ to check his email and sees his instructor has sent him an email welcoming him to the course and inviting him to log into Blackboard at http://elearning.kumc.edu/ and download the syllabus. Jay also knows that he can access his course through the KUMC portal, myKUMC. Since he is already logged into http://my.kumc.edu/, he clicks on his course through the portal, which forwards him into the learning management system, Blackboard.

Jay clicks into his course and comes to the course homepage, where he sees the announcements and syllabus. The announcement is the same as the email he received from the instructor, so he clicks on the syllabus link and downloads a PDF. He opens this in Adobe Reader, which he had previously downloaded from http://get.adobe.com/reader/
Jay reads the syllabus that tells him he will need to check his KUMC email every day for any updates or changes to the course schedule. He also finds that he will need to meet online in a web conference session, using Adobe Connect every other Tuesday evening at 6:00 PM. He also reads that he needs to introduce himself to his classmates in the discussion forum under the Lessons tab. He also notes that all assignments will need to be submitted to a drop box, and must be a Microsoft Word file. Good thing he uses Word in his job and knows how to use it!

Jay spends time adding the dates and assignments due to his personal calendar. He doesn't want to miss an assignment or a class meeting! Jay finds and clicks on the Lessons tab and finds a course introduction item and a discussion forum named "Introduce Yourself" underneath. He reads and listens to the course introduction (his instructor recorded her voice to welcome her students to the class) then clicks on the "Introduce Yourself" link.

He sees that a few other students have already posted their introduction to the discussion forum. He reads the directions and hits the "New Post" button and types in his introduction. He even uploads a photo of himself scuba diving so that his teacher and classmates see one of his hobbies. He clicks on the other posts and replies to another student. 

By the end of the first week, Jay knows that he is to complete his first assignment by typing a short paper in Microsoft Word and uploading that document to a drop box. Each week's assignments are due every Monday, and the next week of course material appears on Monday.

In the second week, Jay wonders how he did on his first assignment. His instructor explains how to do this in the introduction video, so he goes to his course and finds where to look up his grades. After learning where his grades are located, he clicks on the Report tab and clicks Run. He got a 95% on his first assignment. The instructor's comments indicate that he had one misspelled word and forgot to include a total of three references. He only included two. Next time, he vows to make sure and reread the directions before turning in the assignment.

As the weeks progress, Jay falls into a weekly routine with his online course. He schedules out his time and prepares ahead of time. He also reads all the instructions and information in the course.

As you can see from Jay's experience, online courses can be more time consuming than face-to-face courses because it takes longer to type and edit something than it does to say in class. Often, you are not required to speak up in class, but in online courses, you are required to discuss. Discussion forums take time to read and reply.

Students must be prepared and manage their time well in online courses. In face-to-face classrooms, there are reminders for you to finish projects or assignments, or you get graded for simply showing up and participating. In an online course, you should log into the course every day to see what has changed or been updated, or who has replied to your posts.

You have reached the end of section one, eLearning Overview.

The next section of this orientation will go deeper into how you can succeed in an online course.

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Last modified: Jul 30, 2013