Distance Learning: What is Online Learning?

Online learning is a learning environment in which the vast majority of instruction, evaluation and communication is done electronically. Attendance in a classroom is not required or necessary for successful completion of an online course. Classes are accessed through a computer.

ECC online classes are asynchronous, which means there is no certain time you have to be online. Classes are accessed when it is convenient for you i.e. anytime, anywhere you have Internet access. Online classes are sixteen week classes and follow the same schedule as traditional classes. In most cases, these classes are not independent study and students progress through the class as a group. In other words, instructors want all students at the same place at the same time.

The ECC Online Course Process

How does an online class differ from a traditional face-to-face class?

All components of a face-to-face class are available in an online class, the only difference is in format

Weekly Assignments:

Just as you have assignments with due dates in traditional classes, there are also assignments with due dates in online classes. Most assignments are turned in electronically via the Desire2Learn dropbox. Check your syllabus for specific directions on the preferred method for submitting assignments. It is also very important to keep a calendar of due dates and make sure assignments are handed in on time.

Quizzes and Exams:

Like face-to-face classes, online classes also have exams and quizzes but they are done a little differently. Some quizzes are taken online where they are timed and only available during a certain time frame, while others are taken in the Testing Center, in a proctored environment. Quizzes and exams may include a variety of questions - true/false, multiple choice, short answer, fill in the blank, and even essay.


Is discussion possible in an online class you might ask? Of course it is! Discussion can take place in an online class just as it does in a traditional class, the difference is in format. In an online class, discussion takes place through a discussion board, which is generally not in "real" time but is asynchronous. Discussion questions are posted to the board by the instructor [or in some cases other students], and it is then your responsibility to respond to the question. In many instances, a large percentage of a grade will depend on the response to discussion questions.

Interactivity and Socialization

In a traditional class students sometimes visit with each other before or after class.  In an online class the opportunity to visit can still exist - again, just done in a different way.  Some instructors have chat rooms available on their class site in which students can visit with each other. Discussion boards are also available, as well as a means for "IM" instant messaging. While this is not the same as visiting with each other in a classroom, provisions are available for students to socialize and visit with each other in the online environment.