Overview of web courses

The Online Learning Environment

In many ways, learning online is similar to learning in the classroom. Your instructor will provide quality readings, exercises, assignments and quizzes; as with regular classes, what you get out of it is related to how much you put into it. Expect to spend the same amount of time and energy on an online class; in fact, online classes can take more time and energy than regular classes.

However, it is also different in several distinct ways. Click on each to learn more:

Work and study habits
Online classes are convenient and flexible but students have to be disciplined enough to make time to study and participate. Successful online students:
  • Log in regularly to their classes, usually at least three times per week
  • Plan to ensure enough time to study and complete assignments
  • Take notes as they study
  • Commit 6 – 9 hours per week per three-credit class
  • Enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
  • Be able to work with others via email and chat to complete projects
  • “Speak up” to their instructors when problems arise
Online interactions are often an essential element of the learning experience. Be willing to share your ideas, carefully consider your responses to others, and be prepared to have your ideas challenged occasionally.
Effective learning styles
Online learning is best for those who learn by reading and writing; if you learn better by hearing lectures or making presentations, an on-campus class might be a better fit. Successful online students:
  • Are active learners who are willing to take responsibility for their own learning
  • Are visual learners able to learn easily from reading and writing. If you learn best by hearing the instructor, you may want to consider an on-campus class or ITV/telecourse distance education class.
Necessary skill set
The instructor can not see their students and won’t know if you are confused, bored, or frustrated unless you are willing to talk to her/him about it. Successful online students:
  • Know how to use technology properly. This tutorial provides help with computer skills and information about Desire2Learn (D2L), the delivery system we use to present online courses at PCC.
  • Read and write well. Students with weaknesses in these areas can get remedial help or consider classroom learning.
  • Are comfortable addressing problems at a distance. Distance education students need to be assertive in order to make their needs known.
  • Have good time management skills to plot and follow a schedule for finishing readings and assignments.
  • Have solid 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.

Two important qualities of a successful distance learner are flexibility and adaptability. Learning online is an adventure that will expose you to some entirely new – and not always comfortable – experiences. The ability to be flexible and remain open minded is critical to having a positive experience as you move into uncharted territory.


Schedule exampleWhen looking up classes in the online schedule, distance education courses are denoted with a blue label which also describes the delivery method options. Learn more about the different types of distance delivery options.

Clicking on the label will bring up the information page for the class. On each class’ information page, there is a course information section. It is important that you read this information before you enroll, as it may include:

  • Any hardware & software requirements
  • Orientations or other required on-campus sessions
  • Special notes from the course instructor.