Success at Distance Learning
Important information YOU need to know to be successful in a Distance Learning course
What are Distance Learning courses?
Distance Learning courses are fully-accredited courses in which, instead of attending on-campus lectures, you learn via online course websites, e-mail, discussion boards, and other technologies. Distance Learning courses have textbooks, assignments and tests, just like any other class. They are conducted by regular NWACC instructors and the credits count the same as any other NWACC class. There is also no difference shown on your transcript between classroom-based courses and online classes.
The advantage of a Distance Learning course is that you can work on the course and study at the times most convenient to you, allowing for a flexible schedule. This could be especially helpful for those who work during the day, have families, or other life situations that make it difficult to attend classes on campus.
What kinds of Distance Learning courses does NWACC offer?
NWACC offers three kinds of Distance Learning technologies:
W - Online: Online courses at NWACC generally use Blackboard or another online system as the central means for participating in class. Students log into their course online to participate in discussions, read class notes and documents, take quizzes and tests, and send e-mail to the instructor or classmates. But not every single thing is done online -- you'll still need to read a textbook, for example. Also, some of these courses do required proctored exams, where someone is responsible for verifying that you are the person taking the test, but even these can be done in a variety of ways. The key is that, by working online, you can set the times and days of the week when you will do your work. Also, because the course is online, you can access documents, interact, and communicate in the class, all from your home or wherever you have access to the Internet.
Y - Hybrid: Hybrid classes are face-to-face classes that meet partially in the classroom and partially online. This generally means that you will meet less frequently on campus, and do a portion of your work in one of our online systems. They are not the same thing as an 'online class', because you have to actually come to an NWACC classroom at a scheduled time.
Exactly what you will do online will depend on the class and the instructor. Your instructor will explain how this will work when you go to class on the first day. Be sure to check your schedule in EagleNet for the date and time of your class, and remember to attend regularly! V - Compressed Interactive Video: Interactive Video classes are not like the other types of Distance Learning mentioned here because they require you to meet in a specific location,on a specific day and time, just as you would in an on-campus class. The difference between regular on-campus classes and these classes is that with Interactive Video your classroom is connected to one or more additional sites at other locations, with students who are also in the class. An instructor will be at one of the sites (usually at the NWACC main campus) but may periodically visit and teach from the other sites. Cameras and micro-phones allow the different sites to see and hear each other, so students and instructors can both see and hear each other.
What do I need to know to succeed in a Distance Learning course?
There are three key traits that can lead to success in a Distance Learning course:
Motivation, Organization, and Communication. Internet connection and technology skills are a must.
Motivation: In Distance Learning courses you must be highly self-motivated because you are NOT in a regular class meeting, with an instructor present to keep you on task. Those who put off work on the course and fall behind, will struggle to succeed in these courses. Don't procrastinate! If you can focus on the course and work hard towards the course objectives you will have a better chance of success in this course. Also, don't assume that these courses mean less work. In most cases, a Distance Learning course requires just as much work, if not more, than a regular course, because of the reading and typing required to communicate electronically.
Organization: Because you aren't meeting at a regular time and place, you must be able to organize yourself and maintain your discipline. If you are able to stay on task and finish readings, quizzes, papers, and projects in a timely fashion, you'll have a better chance of succeeding. Don't put off work or assume that deadlines your instructor gives you are just "guidelines". Turn in work when due and keep up with the course deadlines. Falling behind means you have to squeeze missed work into the time remaining, which is very difficult. Also very important is to keep backups of all work that is submitted for a grade, whenever possible. Make sure you know what expectations your instructor has for you and when due dates for assignments and tests are. Also remember that for any 3 hour college class, a total of 6-9 hours work in and out of class is normal. That amount of time doesn't shrink in a Distance Learning course.
Communication: Keep in contact with your instructor! One of the great things about Distance Learning courses, especially online courses, is that they are designed around communication. Also, if you have questions or problems that arise from the course, call, e-mail or write your instructor as soon as possible. Your Distance Learning instructors can be reached in a variety of ways and are ready to assist you. Make sure your instructor knows how to reach you by sending them your NWACC e-mail, a backup e-mail address, and phone number. (You should make sure the College has this on file as well.) Be sure to notify your instructor and the College Admissions and Records office if you have any change of e-mail address, mailing address or phone number. Also, be sure to review the web site or contact us [firstname.lastname@example.org] when you have technical difficulties with your online course. Don't wait to resolve technical issues.
Internet Connection and Technology Skills – Students need to have a high-speed internet connection. Students should have access to a computer at home or regular and consistent access to one elsewhere. Home access is strongly recommended. Students entering an online course should know how to browse the internet, send e-mail with attachments, word process documents and save them in different file formats, and fill out forms online. Students should know how to download and save files as well as install software.