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Ask an Advisor: How can I prepare for my FIRST online course?

December 08, 2021 by Mandy Byrd |

AskAnAdvisor_First-Online-CourseTake a look at the tools and technology you’ll be using and learn what to expect in the online classroom.

If you’re new to online learning, you probably have questions about how it all works. Never fear — our new blog series, Ask an Advisor, is here to help. Let’s get started!

What tools will I use in my online course?

UNC Greensboro’s online programs are intentionally designed to be online, so the courses are not a replica of the face-to-face learning experience. The online format provides new opportunities for interactive and individualized learning. A variety of content and tools offer lots of ways to learn a topic.

For example, professors don’t rely on textbooks alone. In an online course, you may find links to:

  • articles and journals
  • interactive websites
  • scripts and speeches
  • historical documents
  • anthologies

If you’re nervous about learning online instead of in a traditional classroom, consider the flexibility an online course offers. For example, course materials are often provided in multiple formats online. Prefer to watch a video about the subject matter, or would you rather read a textbook chapter? In an online class, you can usually choose the study methods that work best for you.

Advisor’s Advice: Wondering how you’ll order textbooks for your online course? Our blog walks you through it, step by step.

What technology will I need?

You don’t need to a ton of technology to succeed in an online course. To get started, you only need the basics — a laptop or desktop computer (not a tablet) with wifi, speakers, mic, and webcam. Of course, online courses may include new technology or tools you haven’t used before, but you can learn them as you go. (See below for an introduction to the Canvas platform.)

Advisor’s Advice: Not sure you have what you need? Check out our recommended technology standards.

Will I have to log in for class at a certain time?

Generally, the answer is no. Most of our online courses are asynchronous, meaning they have no set class times. You can log in to a course whenever it suits you — after the kids go to bed, on weekends, or before work.

A few programs have a course or two that is synchronous, which means that everyone takes the class at a set time. You can check this comparison chart to see which online bachelor’s programs have synchronous courses.

Where will I log in for my class?

UNCG uses a learning management system called Canvas, which is where you’ll find your online courses. You can get familiar with it by taking the Canvas Student Tour.

Will my course be interactive?

Yes! As an online student, you’ll be expected to participate in class and interact with the professor and other students through channels you’re probably used to, such video chat, messaging, and email. You’ll also contribute to class discussion boards and may collaborate with your classmates virtually on group projects.

Advisor’s Advice: Want to know more about how the online classroom works? Visit our Ready to Learn site.

How can I contact my professor?

In online courses, professors hold virtual office hours. These set times each week when they are available for students can be via email, phone, or video, through such formats as Zoom, Google Hangouts, or WebEx.

Professors will let you know what to expect from them during the first class, from the best way to reach them to virtual office hours to how long it will take them to respond. (Though you can email them 24/7, you shouldn’t expect a reply at 3 a.m.) In addition to office hours, many professors may send weekly announcements or record weekly update videos.

Want a friend to share in the online learning experience? Get to know your classmates. Just like your instructor, your classmates are only an email, phone call, or video chat away.

Where can I find all the course details?

The course syllabus outlines what you’ll be learning in your online course and includes everything from deadlines to the instructor’s expectations. Be sure to read the syllabus carefully, speak up if you have any questions, and save a copy for future reference.

Explore Our Online Bachelor’s Programs

Now that you know what to expect from an online course, it’s time to explore our online bachelor’s programs.

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