Online Student Expectations

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What to Expect When Taking Online Courses at TSU

Online courses at TSU are offered primarily as asynchronous (any time), Web-based instruction. While anytime, anywhere learning increases the accessibility of TSU courses, students should reflect carefully on whether online courses match their learning style and expectations for study. In particular, students should self-assess their level of readiness to learn in an online environment. Online courses are geared for the mature, self-motivated learner. They are not easier or less time-consuming than face-to-face (F2F) courses; many students feel that online courses initially require additional effort to adapt to new modes of course delivery and new ways of interacting with the instructor and fellow students.

Online courses are designed as active and collaborative (including peer-to-peer) learning environments. The instructor will provide his or her expertise through lectures, readings, activities, and discussions with students, serving as a facilitator, and encouraging students to explore and interact with fellow learners to reach new levels of understanding and knowledge. Some instructors may even schedule optional synchronous (a.k.a., real time) meetings to aid students.

Successful peer interactive learning requires regular attendance and participation; students enrolled in online courses are expected to log into the course website frequently (at least four or five times per week). Although asynchronous courses allow for flexibility in how students schedule their class work, activities and assignments often follow a rigorous schedule with firm deadlines. Typically, students will log into their course at the beginning of each week to receive instructions about what learning activities to complete; these activities are often bundled as a "learning module." Over the course of each week, they will be required to complete various activities (e.g., quizzes, exercises, short papers) and participate in online discussions by the dates the instructor has established in the syllabus and weekly learning modules. Students may also work on term projects over the course of the term in addition to weekly assignments.

Throughout the semester, online classroom participation through Web tools such as discussion boards, weblogs, and wikis is expected on a regular basis and often represents a significant portion of the final grade for the course (30 percent or higher in many cases). Students should examine the syllabus closely to determine requirements for the course and weighting of each assignment.