|Information students must know before registering for Internet Courses:
- An orientation to all online classes is required. It is held shortly before the semester begins or during the first week of classes. The orientation may be a face-to-face meeting, an online search or form, or a combination of these methods. Failure to attend or participate in orientation results in the student being dropped from the course. Students may often have a conflict between two or more distance education course orientation times. Faculty advisors should stress that it is the student's responsibility to resolve those conflicts and meet all orientation requirements without exception.
- All necessary online course information is available to read on the College's Internet Class page. On this page students and faculty can find the instructor's email, specific instructions, a gateway to the online course syllabus, required hardware/software configurations, and directions for orientation for each online class. A general self-assessment students can take to determine if an online course is right for them can be found on the College's Distance Learning page.
- Students must be sure their computers have the technical requirements for each course before enrolling in the course. To understand what is required students must go to the College's Distance Learning page. Students indicating they are getting a computer, or they are getting email soon often have difficulties starting and keeping up with online courses.
- Online courses definitely require strong student motivation and very strong student discipline. Research shows that active learners are most successful.
- Students who are good readers and writers will perform better in online courses. Three different reading skills are required. First, students must be good readers--the amount of reading is often doubled in web courses since students must read a text and online material. Second, students must be self-starting readers. All assignments, due-dates, and instructions are available on the web, but students must seek them out. Third, students must be good detail readers and proofreaders. The slightest spelling or syntax error can mean hours of frustration. Failure to read and follow directions can seriously harm student performance. Students may also have bad habits contributing to superficial reading such as hitting a page, or checking it out. Course web pages contain too much information for this students must go to the page, stop, and read the page with understanding.
- Online courses tend to require more hours per week than regularly scheduled classes. Faculty can point out that students save some time by eliminating driving, parking, and getting a baby-sitter. But, the time to organize their study, to complete assignments, and to review for exams adds up to a significant commitment.
- Online courses are not self-paced. It is not possible to enroll at any time, take tests at anytime, etc. Some courses allow students to test online and some require students to check into the test center for exams. Courses using the test center may allow students to go to both campuses, or may restrict testing to one campus only. There is flexibility, but all online courses require some scheduled events. It is the student's responsibility to meet these due dates for each course.
- Students who have a year or more of effective use of the Internet perform better in online courses.
Other advising considerations:
- Any “at-risk” student should be cautioned about the time & discipline involved in online courses. While no MTC policy exists, most online teachers feel students on probation should be cautioned before taking an online course.
- Please urge students considering an online course to go to the self-assessment quiz to test their readiness for online courses before they enroll.
- Unless students have superior skills please caution them about taking two or more sections of online courses.
Actions students must take after registering:
- Students should immediately visit all the links for the course listed in that course section of the Internet Class page. Students should carefully follow all directions on these pages and add those pages to their list of browser “favorites”.
- A WebCT tutorial is now available and all students should complete this tutorial.
- Students should immediately email or telephone the teacher to schedule an orientation time. Please remind students to follow the directions of the specific course in which they are enrolled.
- Students will receive a course password only if orientation is successfully completed.
- Penn State's Free Guide to Online Learning
- Several MTC faculty also have resources on their pages where students can assess their readiness to take online courses. Some faculty have pages of student examples or student comments which can help an advisor and/or a student understand what is involved in the course. Many faculty will allow other faculty or students to browse around a course—so encourage a call or email.