What's like to take a Distance Learning course?
How is it different from a course on campus?
In a web-based course you have more flexibility about when you do your course work. However, that DOES NOT mean that you don't have just as much or even slightly more work than in an on-campus course. Most web-based courses have deadlines to submit papers. You may also have to work with other online students in study or writing groups. Therefore, if you are to be successful in the course, you must participate regularly and stay on top of your work. YOU are responsible for your learning, but you also can work at your own pace to a certain extent and log in to class at 6 in the morning or at 9 in the evening if you choose. Also, don't forget that your instructor is a real person who teaches at PVCC and who cares about your progress in the course. They will be in regular contact with you, reminding you of assignments, offering feedback and evaluation and encouraging you to stay up with your work.
Who is responsible for initiating first contact in my course?
YOU are responsible for first contacting your instructor. You should do this by obtaining your Blackboard Username and logging in to your course (you will learn how to do this in Part II of the Online Orientation). Once you have successfully accessed your online course, you should first read any announcements in the course, then review the syllabus. Common activities to initiate contact in the course are often to send an email or to post an introductory letter to the Discussion Board. Different instructors will have slightly different procedures for doing this.
How do I communicate with my instructor and classmates?
There are several different ways to communicate in a web-based course. Most courses have asynchronous (not real-time) discussion boards where students post and answer questions. The instructor also posts and answers questions at this site. In addition, you can participate in real-time chats with your instructor or classmates. Once you have logged in to the Blackboard Course Management System, be sure to visit those features of your course and familiarize yourself with them. Many times, you will be graded based upon your participation in the class discussions.
You may also communicate with your instructor via email or the old standby-the telephone. Our distance learning instructors are very open to student input and questions and make every effort to answer your email messages on the same day on weekdays.
How are assignments handled?
This is particular to each course. However, usually you will be required to send your homework to your instructor as an electronic file, either as an email attachment or through the Assignment feature. You may also be asked to post information to the class Discussion Board as an assignment.
How is my learning assessed?
This is particular to each course as well. However, most courses include homework assignments, participation grades, online quizzes and proctored exams which must be taken either at the PVCC Learning Center or at another similar proctored environment. If distance prohibits you from taking exams on the PVCC campus, you should contact your instructor so that the two of you can establish another testing site that is more accessible for you.
What can I do to make sure I am successful as an online student?
Number one: stay on top of your work and realize that YOU are responsible for your learning.
Number two: review our study tips
But don't just take our word for it. Read what past PVCC Distance Learning students had to say:
- "Pace yourself."
- "Don't get behind."
- "Like any class, discipline yourself to do a little bit every day or every other day to keep up because there are no reminders like in a traditional class."
- "Make sure that you don't save it all until the end and then try to cram. It will not work."
- "Make sure you have a strong and comfortable working knowledge of computers in general, make sure you are willing to commit to something that requires a great deal of self-discipline and organization."
- "You must be mentally and emotionally ready to learn. This class is time consuming and you must be willing to put forth the effort to learn a lot of information. This class is not a joke."