What is online learning?

Online learning refers to courses delivered through the internet.

Online courses offer the same content as on-campus courses. The difference between online and classroom courses is the delivery format. Students visit their 'classroom' via a web-based course management system called Blackboard.

A variety of course formats are offered to suit your learning style and schedule. 

In online classes, students learn on their own time; remote classes meet in real time online; and hybrid classes combine online/remote and face-to-face instruction. Learn more.

Online courses are taught by the same instructors who teach on-campus courses.

Instructors apply the same standards for success in their online classes as they do in their on-campus classrooms.

Online learning offers flexibility and convenience for learners.

Students may access the class from a computer with an internet connection 24 hours a day, seven days a week from home, work, or other places such as the Prince George's Community College campus computer lab or the public library.

There are weekly deadlines and assignments, and few or no on-campus sessions.

Lectures, class assignments, tests, and discussions take place online. Note: Some courses require on-campus proctored tests.

Most of our online courses are a full semester in length and follow the regular semester academic schedule.

Details regarding course duration for each course can be found on the Online Class Schedules page.

Typically, coursework is completed during the week assigned at a time convenient for the student.

Except for tests, turning in assignments, and meeting other course deadlines can be completed during the week at a time that is up to the individual student. Many students find it helpful to commit to specific time blocks to complete their online courses.

Our instructors use Blackboard for all online courses.

Blackboard is the course management system students use to access course materials, submit assignments, take tests and quizzes, participate in class discussions, and other activities as required by the instructor. Instructors may use additional software and websites, depending on the course.

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.

Is online learning right for me? 

Taking an online class has many advantages, including increased flexibility in completing homework assignments, the ability to communicate with your classmates and your instructor from the convenience of your own home or workplace, and enhanced access to written materials ranging from discipline-specific internet resources to saved chats and instructor's class announcements.

However, an online class is not for everyone. For instance, if you need the discipline of a meeting on campus several times a week and you enjoy the in-person interaction between other students and your instructor, you are more likely to succeed in an on-campus class. The following are characteristics of students who would do well in an online course.

Successful online students must have both Technical Skills and Study Skills.

Take a good look at yourself as a learner.

What grades do you typically earn?
Students who do well in on-campus classes usually do well in online courses. So, you can expect to earn the same grade in an online class as you would earn in an on-campus class.

Do you understand and remember what you read?
Most online classes are text-based and rely on the written word to communicate instructions and course content. If you are a poor reader, you will have more difficulty understanding directions and the course material.

Do you meet deadlines?
The world is divided into two types of procrastinators: those who meet deadlines and those who don't. You can be a procrastinator and still do well in an online class, but you must turn in your work on time if you expect to be successful.

What skills do I need?

Study skills

Successful eLearning students usually have the following characteristics:

  • Self-motivated (does not need a lot of direction and motivation from the instructor)
  • Self-disciplined (can budget time wisely and meet deadlines)
  • Enjoy the challenge of learning on their own time
  • Take charge of their own learning (willing to ask questions and get help when necessary)
  • Understand and remember what they read
  • Communicate well in writing
  • May need a flexible schedule but understands that flexibility does not mean the course will be easy

Budget your time

At a minimum, you will need to study between six and nine hours each week to be successful in an online course.

Get organized

It is recommended that you don't procrastinate and don't get behind. It's easy to go off track in an online course because you don't actually see the instructor or your fellow students regularly. No one can force you to log in to Blackboard or to answer your email.

Meet deadlines

Many students incorrectly believe that an online course is student-paced, and they can choose when to hand in assignments. Actually, most online courses are instructor-paced, and there are real deadlines that must be met if you are to pass the course.

Keep in touch with your instructor and classmates

Most instructors provide a discussion board within Blackboard for you to post questions about the course requirements, content, or the technology. As soon as you begin to feel confused or have questions, post to the discussion board, and ask for help from your fellow students. Most online students are glad to help and welcome the chance to get to know their classmates better.

Technical Skills

You don't have to have advanced technical skills to be a successful online learner, but you do need to:

  1. Be able to navigate the internet,
  2. Have basic computer skills, including typing, emailing, and saving documents, and
  3. Have access to a computer with at least a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB RAM, and 5 GB of free disk space.
Tips for Online Success

Log in to Blackboard often (at a minimum, three to five times each week).

Like other forms of electronic communication, the Blackboard course management form records each of your logins and the course areas you visit while online. Your instructors will know if you are participating (just as they would in a face-to-face class), so make sure you log in and use Blackboard to the fullest extent possible.

Most of the College's online courses use Blackboard as their online delivery software. If you are unable to log in, here are some possible reasons:

  • Your username and/or password are incorrect. Review log in directions.
  • Generally, you will not be able to log in to your Blackboard course(s) until the day of the on-campus eLearning orientation (four days before the start date of the course).
  • It may take up to 10 hours after registering to transfer your registration information from Owl Link to the Blackboard server. You will not be able to log in to Blackboard until your information has been transferred to Blackboard.
  • Your instructor may not be using Blackboard. If you can't log in within 24 hours after registering, contact your instructor directly by email or phone. You will find a course list for the semester in which you are registered on the Class Schedules page in Owl Link.

Do your work "offline" in Word or a similar format.

This is the internet equivalent of "the dog ate my homework." Instructors have little patience when hearing that you lost your work just as you were going to send it. Internet users know that service will often be disrupted with no warning. It’s best to work offline and save often.

ALWAYS save your files before you send them to your instructor.

Again, the electronic world is uncertain. Always save a copy of your files in case something gets lost during submission. It's your responsibility to complete and turn in assignments. Instructors cannot assign a grade based on work they've never seen.

Course Formats

PGCC offers a variety of online course options:

The College uses Blackboard as the course management system for all online courses. 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 (Bb). Read More

Online

Using a computer at home, work, or a public place, you will log in to class to receive course information, view course content, submit assignments, and have discussions with your instructor and fellow students. Read More

Accelerated Online

Accelerated Online courses are online courses offered in a condensed time frame. They offer additional flexibility for your schedule because they are shorter in duration than full-semester courses. Accelerated Online courses contain the same amount of coursework as full-semester online courses. Consider choosing an Accelerated Online course if you cannot commit to a full semester course schedule. Read More

Hybrid/Online

Not all online courses offered at PGCC are entirely online. We also offer Hybrid/Online courses that have scheduled on-campus meeting dates and times with online course activities. The number of on-campus meetings varies - some courses only meet once a month, while others may meet every week. Read More

Remote Learning

During the summer and fall 2020 semesters, when PGCC campus locations closed due to COVID-19, classes are transitioned to remote instruction. Classes that were scheduled to meet face-to-face at College locations will meet online via Zoom in Blackboard. Students will access learning materials, assignments, and participate in discussions via Blackboard. Read More

Enhanced On-Campus

Regardless of course format, PGCC makes it easy for students to stay on track by communicating with their professors, submitting completed assignments, accessing grades, and more using Blackboard, the College's online course management system. Read More