Online Learning- Getting Started

Are you ready for online learning?

Myths about Online Learning

  • Online classes are easier than face-to-face (F2F) classes.
  • I won’t have interaction with my instructor or other students in my online class.
  • Online courses make you “teach yourself” the material.
  • Online classes are self-paced; I can turn in my assignments whenever I want in the semester as long as they get done.

What's expected of me in online courses?

Not all online courses are the same but most share similar expectations.

Be Proactive

Depending on the type of course you’re taking, you may not see or interact with an instructor at a regularly scheduled class meeting time. This means you’ll have to be proactive.

  • Ask for help. Your instructor won’t be able to see your confused or frustrated expression sitting in a classroom; you’ll need to reach out to your instructor when you have questions, are confused, or need help. Check your syllabus- some instructors prefer Blackboard messages, others want you to send an email. Don’t get discouraged and give up. Asking questions early may save you time completing your work.
  • Plan ahead. It may take 24-48 hours for your instructor to respond to your questions (more if it’s on the weekend). It’s a good idea to complete your work a few days before the due date so you’ve got time to get assistance if you need it.

You should always ask for help when you need it. AC has a lot of resources- not just your instructor. Tutoring services are available in person AND online.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to succeed.  You’re responsible for understanding the course content and turning assignments in on time. Don’t sit back and wait for things to happen- taking the initiative can make all the difference.


Even if you’re not in a classroom, participation is important.

You’ll be expected to log in to Blackboard to complete not only assignments, quizzes, and exams but also discussion boards or group work. Online doesn’t mean independent study- your syllabus will have due dates for these items and not completing on time can result in a grade penalty.

Many classes have an orientation or welcome module that must be completed in the first week of class. According to college policy, instructors may even drop you from your course if you haven’t logged in within the first week.

Instructors also post announcements and change due dates in Blackboard so it’s a good idea to be in the habit of logging in at least twice a week (more, if the instructor recommends it) to keep up.

Online courses have the same rigor as face-to-face (F2F) courses so you will likely spend 6-10 hours a week doing work for each 3 credit hour course.

Reading and Writing

Online courses include video and images but you’ll probably do more reading than in a face-to-face (F2F) class.

Discussions that would happen verbally in a F2F class will likely be written discussions in Blackboard that you’ll need to read and respond to.

Some instructors also send out written notes that they would share in a lecture in a F2F class, including assignment instructions, information about due dates, or clarification about concepts from course videos/textbooks.

If you need accommodation for disabilities, they are available for online courses and can be requested through Student Services.


You don’t have a to be a tech whiz to take an online class but you will need to know how to use the internet and navigate the platform that gives you access to your courses (Blackboard).

Types of Online Classes at AC

Online (asynchronous)

This is the ‘online’ class you’re probably most familiar with. The course learning and interaction happens online and according to the schedule in the syllabus. While you may meet with your instructor during their online office hours, you aren’t required to be at your computer at a specific day or time to receive instruction.

Online (synchronous)

Synchronous online courses take place fully online but have designated meeting times for lecture or group work. These meeting times allow students to interact with each other, as well as the instructor, and receive real-time learning and coaching from anywhere with a wi-fi or broadband connection.


Hybrid courses complete a lot of their work online but also have required in-person class meetings. It allows for more flexibility in your schedule and still provides face-to-face contact with your instructor and interaction with your classmates. The meeting times are shorter than for the same course in a fully face-to-face model and allow for focused lectures and content.


Hybrid courses provide a choose-your-own-adventure path to education. While there are scheduled class meeting times, anything taking place during that meeting is also live-streamed and recorded. You can choose to show up in person, watch live, or learn with the recording on your own time. This model allows for as much or as little in-person interaction you’re comfortable with and the flexibility to balance work and home responsibilities when emergencies crop up.