What is online learning?
Using a computer at home or at work, you will log in to your class to receive course information, view course content, submit assignments, and have discussions with your instructor and fellow students. The college uses Blackboard as our course management system. Just as you have become familiar with the arrangement of a classroom on campus, you will become familiar with the features of an online classroom within Blackboard:
- Discussion Board
- Course information and content
- Instructor contact information
It is very important to remember the following points about online learning:
- Online learning is flexible and convenient...but NOT EASIER!
- You can expect to study a minimum of 6-9 hours each week
- You should log into your class regularly, at the very minimum 2-3 times per week
- No one will tap you on your shoulder to remind you to go to class; you must remember to "attend" your online class regularly
- You will participate in class discussions using the Discussion Board
- You will submit assignments and possibly tests online
- Most online classes at PGCC are not self-paced. The instructor sets the deadlines for the course work.
Why take an online course?
Taking an online class allows you the flexibility to study from home, using your own computer and the Internet, at any hour or day you choose. You can submit work quickly and easily via the Internet as soon as you have completed it. You can email your professor with questions or problems as they arise and receive feedback online. You can communicate with other students by email or through discussion boards to share ideas and information.
What is expected of me?
To be successful in your online course, you are expected to:
- Have an Owl Link account. (You must have logged into Owl Link and reset your password.)
- Have access to a computer with Internet service and an email account
- Log in regularly to your classes, usually three to five times per week (or more)
- Plan to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
- Commit 6 - 9 hours per week per three-credit class
- Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
- "Speak up" to your instructors when problems arise
- Be willing to take responsibility for your learning
- Be able to learn easily from reading and writing
- Know how to use technology properly
- Read and write well
- Be comfortable addressing problems at a distance
- Have good time management skills to follow a schedule for finishing readings and assignments
- Have good research skills, including how to effectively use the Internet
- Have the ability to work well cooperatively, even when your communication is restricted to email or online chat
- Complete the Checklist for Starting your Online Course (at the bottom of this page) prior to beginning your course
What software and equipment will I need?
To take an online course you will need access to a computer that is connected to the Internet, Internet access, an email address, and the appropriate software.
- Pentium Class computer with 128MB RAM or Macintosh system 7.5 (or better)
- Minimum 50MB free disk space (for assignments, course materials, etc.)
- A modem or other device capable of connecting to the Internet at a speed of 56 kbps (or faster).
- Broadband (DSL, Cable, FIOS) is highly recommended.
- NOTE: The minimum requirements suggested here for hardware and software are those that will allow you to use all the features of the Blackboard learning environment, however, a slow modem and computer may be frustratingly slow to use and may prevent you from using some interactive features of your online course.
- Windows operating system (95, 98, 2000, NT, XP, or Vista)
- Web browser: Internet Explorer 6.0 (or higher) or Mozilla Firefox 1.5 (or higher)
- Internet Service Provider software (i.e. AOL, MSN)
- E-mail program (i.e. AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)
- Word Processing program (Microsoft Word is the college standard)
- Virus Protection software kept current with updates (i.e. Norton's Antivirus, McAfee)
- Some classes may have specific class requirements for additional software. These requirements will be listed on the course information page.
- Register for your course.
- Confirm orientation date, time and location, if applicable.
- Check course dates and deadlines. Online classes begin when campus classes begin.
- Visit your instructor's web page for information about the course requirements and materials and pertinent information about how to access the course.
- Be sure you have internet access and an e-mail account set up before the start date of the course.
- Resolve any technical problems before the class starts, as technical problems are generally not accepted as an excuse for late or incomplete work in an online course. You may contact eLearning Services for assistance.
- Know how to logon to Blackboard. Please note: you will be able to login to Blackboard five days prior to the start date of your course.
- Purchase your textbook.