How Online Education Works

In some ways, online education differs from classroom learning – but at its core, much of it is the same. You will read from textbooks, complete assignments and take exams. You will participate in discussions with peers and instructors. And the best part, of course, is that you will be able to do all of this when and where it fits your schedule.

Let’s take a closer look at how classroom and online learning compare. Then, dig into the advantages of online courses.

How Online Learning Compares to the Classroom/Campus

Online Learning

  • Students receive a high-quality education from an accredited college.
  • Most classes are delivered asynchronously, which means you, your peers and your instructor work on course activities at different times, based on your individual schedules. Though this allows for flexibility, you will still need to meet deadlines throughout the term – typically weekly.  
  • Learning is convenient, but requires organization and self-discipline.
  • Discussions with peers and instructors take place when convenient via Desire2Learn discussion boards, email and private messages. This allows you time to think through responses to the questions and comments posed.  
  • Students receive full UW System student support services and resources, including academic advising, tutoring and financial aid assistance.
  • Successful students spend 3-4 hours per week per credit in full semester classes. (Shorter terms differ.)
  • Does require certain hardware, software and network requirements.
  • In-person graduation.

Classroom Learning

  • Students receive a high-quality education from an accredited college.
  • Classes are delivered synchronously, which means you, your peers and your instructor work on course activities at the same time.
  • Attendance-mandatory classes help keep some students on track.
  • Interactions with peers and instructors are face to face, verbal and spontaneous during set class times.
  • Students receive full UW System student support services and resources, including academic advising, tutoring and financial aid assistance.
  • Successful students spend 3-4 hours per week per credit in full semester classes.
  • Often does not require hardware, software or network requirements.
  • In-person graduation.

What Happens During a Typical Online Course?

So what does a day in the life of an online student look like? As a successful online student, you will: 

  • Log  in to your class regularly – either daily or several times per week – over the course of your three-, seven-, eight- or sixteen-week semester.
  • Work online by reading lecture notes, checking assignment due dates, participating in group discussions, submitting coursework, taking quizzes or exams, and communicating with your professor.
  • Work offline by reading textbook, supplemental material and article assignments, solving computational problems, composing written assignments, doing research, and studying for quizzes or exams.
  • Participate in class at a time that best suits you, while ensuring your coursework is completed by specified due dates.
  • Spend time completing coursework – as much time as you would in a traditional classroom course: 3-4 hours per week per credit on each fall or spring semester course and 5-8 hours per week per credit on each summer course.

Requirements

Requirements

Online learning requires a mix of traditional learning tools, such as textbooks, and new technologies such as Mathlab.

Is online learning right for you? Let's take a look.



UW Colleges Online

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Madison, WI 53711