September 2, 2021
How Do Online Classes Work: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Online Classes Work: 10 Frequently Asked Questions

Attending a brick-and-mortar school might not be a convenient option for some learners. Online class offers considerable flexibility, especially for people with tight work and family schedules.

But exactly how do online classes work? Is an online learning option and online degree program as good as credits or degrees earned from on-campus programs?

While remote learning has been around for quite some time, many students considering it as an option might still have many unanswered questions. To offer more clarity, this post will provide answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions about online class.

1. How Do Proctored Tests Work in Online Classes?

Proctored or monitored exams are becoming common with increased AI technology. But that doesn’t mean that every online class requires proctored tests or exams.

Online proctored exams can involve a supervisor who monitors students via webcam. Students can also sit for the test or exam in local testing centers with a proctor on site.

In more advanced situations, computer programs using artificial intelligence monitor students’ screens to detect cheating.

2. What Type of Workload Should You Expect in an Online Course?

One common misconception about participating in an online class is that the workload is easier. The online learning format may offer higher flexibility but that doesn’t necessarily translate into lighter coursework.

The exact workload varies between courses, but as with on-campus programs, the number of hours you spend on your online learning will depend on whether you are a full-time or part-time student.

You can expect to spend anywhere between 15 and 20 hours per week studying, especially if you are running a full-time online course.

3. Is Online Education Effective?

Most times when prospective students ask: how does an online class work? They are probably concerned about the effectiveness of the online learning format.

The quality of education offered in an online program is usually the same as the on-campus version, but the success of each student depends largely on their level of self-discipline and commitment to the program.

Usually, an online student is expected to schedule study time to cover their coursework. While this level of flexibility is great, it can be detrimental for students who are not self-starters.

In other words, you need to develop above-average time management skills to balance your online learning and existing schedule if you want to make the most of online class.

4. Are Online Courses Accredited?

male teacher teaching his students on white board in the classroom
Image source: Pexels

Closely related to the question of effectiveness is accreditation. Earning a degree from a non-accredited institution can be a huge waste of time and effort, whether it is a traditional classroom format or an online school.

Thankfully, many accredited and reputable traditional colleges and universities also offer online learning. This means the online learning programs are already accredited.

It is best to confirm the accreditation status of an online learning program before you apply to the school.

5. What Type of Assignments Can You Expect?

Assignments in an online class are generally similar to on-campus programs. You can expect to work on research papers, group projects, and proctored tests. Remote presentations are also part of some online learning courses.

In addition to these general types of assignments, online students can expect to participate in online-style tests or assignments involving questions presented in a discussion board.

6. How Do Students Interact with Professors and Each Other?

Exactly how does online classwork in terms of interaction with other distance learners and professors?

While email, phone calls, and text messages are viable options, most interactions between distance learners, as well as with professors, happen in the school’s discussion forums.

Building strong relationships, especially with professors, will require a more proactive approach. One excellent way to do this is by introducing yourself to your instructors or professors long before a class starts.

You can also take advantage of offers like attending office hours to build a stronger rapport with professors.

7. Are Students Required to Attend In-Person Activities?

Students may be required to attend some in-person programs, such as networking and team-building activities. This depends a lot on the type of online course you choose.

For example, you can expect some travel and on-campus visits if you are pursuing a degree in a health field. Students in this area of study are often required to work in clinical settings, which can only be possible in person.

8. Are Students Required to Attend Online Classes at Specific Times?

happy man using his laptop
Image source: Pexels

How do online classes work in terms of class attendance? Typically, you can expect to participate in more self-paced or asynchronous classes with online learning formats. This will allow you to study and complete assignments at your own pace but you still have to meet deadlines.

An online classroom can also have synchronous components, depending on the specific program. That means some courses will sometimes involve the use of videoconferencing apps, such as Zoom and Google Meet for discussions and live lectures.

9. What is the Typical Duration for Online Programs?

Online academic calendars vary between schools and programs. In some cases, online education is structured into smaller terms, such as a seven or eight-week session. Others follow a semester-based timetable.

The number of courses in an online learning program can also determine its duration. However, some courses do not allow a student the flexibility to choose the number of courses to take at a time. In such cases, everyone is expected to follow the same curriculum road map.

It is usually helpful to consider how an academic calendar will suit your family and work schedules before enrolling in online education.

10. Do Employers Only Value Degrees?

Prospective employers are not overly concerned about the format through which a degree is earned. Instead, the focus is on the reputation of the school.

This is because the perceived difference between a traditional class and online degrees obtained through distance education is becoming increasingly blurred.

Generally, it takes a higher level of commitment and discipline to effectively learn on a flexible schedule and at the same time work well with professors and other distance learners. For this reason, some employers tend to place higher premiums on a candidate who has studied through an online degree program.