The Online College Education Experience

What Should You Expect from the Professor?

How to make the most of your learning experience from your teacher

While online professors differ just as students do, you should expect to find your professor knowledgeable about the materials for the course and subject area. Professors like to bring their professional experiences to the classroom. Take advantage and enjoy learning about these life experiences, as new knowledge can be gained. Get involved and share your experiences, too. The professor should encourage you to do so.

learning tips
“if you have questions about your performance at any time, ask your professor…”

You should expect the professor to be present during the online course, if not every day, at least every other day. Most often your professor is likely to sign on daily to check into the classroom. While professors are usually not required to be online seven days a week, they probably put more effort into their online course than students realize and are online more often than not. While not all professors do this, most generally do.

Expect the professor to be very professional and considerate of all students in the classroom. The professor should be accessible by every student via email and/or via phone. While you can expect a response from your instructor, do not expect one before 24-48 hours of when you sent the professor the email in the first place. Remember, they do have lives too. The professor for your course should post a schedule in the course syllabus so that you are well aware of how to reach him or her and what time frames are best.

What to expect from online teacher
Online professors assist in your learning.

Prior to the start of the course, the professor should post a course syllabus that outlines what you can expect in the course and how the course is scheduled to run. Take the time to read this very important document. Additionally, the professor is likely to post additional documents that can aid your learning process as well as lectures and materials needed for the course. Furthermore, the professor might post websites or other reading materials that you can refer to throughout the class.

Throughout the course you can expect to discuss topics in some sort of online format, usually similar to an email format, where you post a response to a topic based upon criteria outlined by the professor. Students learn by participating in discussions in the form of threads where students build upon topics that thread-out and grow diagonally. As the professor posts questions for discussion, you can respond to them and then other students can post their responses. This can be a great deal of fun and a helpful way to build knowledge.

You can expect the professor to actively participate in the online class. Keeping the classroom active helps participation and overall engagement. Active involvement also reduces isolation and helps to retain students.

learning tips
“Online education allows students to be central to their learning process and professors realize that students vary in both their learning abilities and their needs.”

Expect to receive feedback from your instructor on a regular basis. However, if you have questions about your performance at any time, ask your professor. All assignments should be graded and feedback given to the student in a timely manner. Most professors usually note in the course syllabus when and how feedback may be given.

You can expect your professor to be somewhat flexible. Remember that professors also have lives of their own with commitments and responsibilities just like you do. They realize things happen, life happens. Have the courtesy to call or email your professor if and when something goes awry. Do not wait until after the fact — do it as soon as you can. Otherwise, professors tend to be less flexible afterwards. Check the course syllabus for the policies regarding what to do when something goes wrong. If you can’t find it, always ask.

Online education allows students to be central to their learning process (Flood, 2002) and professors realize that students vary in both their learning abilities and their needs. Be aware of what expectations are set by the professor and vice versa. Remember, just as online learners are in class to succeed, so too are online professors — they are there to help you succeed!

Online Learning Management Systems

Access to lectures, course syllabus, reading materials, assignments and more

The structure of an online classroom may vary from college to college. However, most online courses (programs) exist or are housed in a learning management system (LMS). The LMS is designed to provide you with access to all that you my need during your time in the online classroom. A simple LMS consists of areas similar to a home page or main online campus area where students can find a section for their login or access into their specific course/program area. Within the online classroom, upon login, the student can find everything he or she needs in the form of icons or buttons where folders or conference areas exist for all classroom discussion.

learning tips
“Participation is critical to an online learning environment because this is where a great deal of the learning takes place.”

The learning management system should include conference areas, folders, or specific areas where students can gain access to the course syllabus, reading materials, lectures, articles, and so forth needed for the course. You can expect to have written lectures posted weekly for you to read and also discussion questions that you respond back to in order to invoke thoughtful discussions that relate to the course objectives. This is generally how participation works in your online classroom. Sometimes there are actual requirements that you must meet in order to gain full participation points for the week. In other words, you might be required to post so many responses per week in order to meet the participation requirement for your online course. This should be spelled out in the course syllabus.

Participation is critical to an online learning environment because this is where a great deal of the learning takes place. However, this ca vary per course and based upon the instructor’s requirements. Take note of this as you check into any online program you are reviewing or ask about it since it can vary, but could become a potential problem if you are not willing to put forth the necessary time needed for the course (program area) you are interested in pursuing.

Additionally, you might also find that you have to meet specific requirements to be in attendance weekly. For instance, you might be required to log-on so many days per week. Again, be sure you can be present and meet the requirements so that you are not surprised later on, while already enrolled into a program, and then realize you cannot be present , which can cause problems with your course completion. The attendance requirement is usually because online universities must meet specific criteria in order to maintain accreditation as an online university as well as the financial aid requirement. This could vary from university to university. Be sure to be thorough when you check out this aspect.

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