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What to Expect from an Online, Hybrid, or Televised/Streaming Course


What to Expect from Your Distance Education Course 

  • Expect to learn the same material that you would in a full-time face-to-face class.
  • Expect to receive a full syllabus at the start of the class that includes any orientation, quiz, exam, and assignment due dates
  • Expect to have clear instructions for each phase of the course: what to read, what to do, what to turn in and how to submit it.
  • Expect to spend on average 6 hours per week per course unit. Just because classroom time is greatly reduced, it does not mean that learning time is similarly reduced. It will generally increase depending on your reading and writing skills.
  • Expect to have assistance from your instructor. Distance Learning does not mean that you are on your own. Your instructor is available to assist and guide you in your learning and answer your questions throughout the course.
  • Expect to receive information and feedback from your instructor weekly


1) Distance education courses are exactly the same as face-to-face courses in quality, objectives, credits and learning outcomes. They use a different methodology by using the Internet, instead of or in addition to a classroom.

2) Distance education courses are Student Centered rather than Teacher Centered, so you will not sit and listen to lectures and generally will not be required to log into your course at any specific time. Your teacher is a facilitator and will assist you in learning the material required; explain details clearly in writing; provide you with information links, CD Roms and web materials and references; answer all email questions usually within 24 hours; correct all required work, papers, projects and quizzes in a reasonable time; and post your grade in your grade book on a regular basis.

3) You must be an active learner not passively waiting for your teacher to remind you to do your homework, checking on your progress every day and telling you what you are missing each week. A successful online student will take the responsibility for his or her own learning: completing work on time; emailing the instructor for assistance; keeping the instructor informed of any personal issues and learning assistance you need; communicating with other students in the class; keeping up with readings, case studies and web links; logging into the course daily for updates, emails and information concerning the course; and completing the course on time.

4) Expect to be graded on the value, content and timeliness of your work – not on other issues such as number of emails and questions, class dominance, or past course performance. You can expect your teacher to give you as much of an opportunity to improve throughout your course, but all work must be completed by the timeline on the syllabus.

5) You will find that you learn more than you expected in these courses. By being an active learner, you will remember more of the course and feel more of an accomplishment upon completion. Expect a distance education course to take you more time and energy than a traditional face-to-face course, but the results are often that you learn more, too!

6) Students are often surprised to find that they feel they get to know their teachers and classmates better online than in a classroom, due to the number of emails and contacts, more active class discussions and interactions online than in a traditional classroom setting. (Shy students often comment that they participate more online than in any previous college classroom courses)

7) You will learn more than the content of the course: expect to learn how to do research online, how to utilize and experience new web sites, how to use more computer applications (such as NetMeetings, Adobe Acrobat, file attachments, voice-streaming, PowerPoint(R) presentations, etc), utilize new search engines and, most importantly, how to express yourself better in writing.

Before Your Course Begins:

After you register for your courses, pick up or order textbooks through the campus bookstore. It is best to order books in advance so they are shipped before you begin your classes. You may also order books through other sources on the Internet, but be sure to order the correct edition and allow plenty of time (or pay more) for shipping. For ordering through used books sites such as half.com or amazon.com used books, 4-6 weeks is not unusual.

The college uses Desire2Learn (D2L) as our course management system – your instructor may choose to use a different site – be sure to read the syllabus thoroughly. Review the Desire2Learn student help resources program if you haven’t used it before. To log in to Desire2Learn, go to http://d2l.losrios.edu.

Classes begin and end on the normal district schedules. Logging into courses ahead of the start date may not provide you with the up-to-date, or the correct, version of your course – contact the instructors but remember, they may not be checking their emails until classes start.


Do manage your time. You will need to stay on top of your assignments and keep current with any interaction required in your classes. You’ll find that managing your time wisely will be critical in a Distance Learning class. But, be aware that it is very easy to spend either far too little time, or far too much time on your class.

Do start your work as soon as the semester begins and pay close attention to any schedules or guidelines that your instructor has given you. They will help you to keep yourself on-task and on-time. Since assignments can be completed from virtually anywhere in the world, at least anyplace you can find a computer with an Internet connection, there are very few excuses for late work. Plan ahead.

Do ask for help if something isn’t going right or if you don’t understand something. Even though you do not see your instructor on a regular face-to-face basis, you are entitled to regular contact with him/her. Most instructors have regular face-to-face office hours as well as online office hours.

Do take the time to learn more about your online learning space (if used), such as Desire2Learn. Learn how to navigate through it and how to use the course tools your instructor has included. Find out what everything is for. Review any help files you find along the way.

Do expect the first week or two of your online class to be an adjustment period. By the third week, you should feel much more comfortable with the program. Any technical problems should be worked out, and the rhythm of your class should take over.

Do take advantage of the support services and resources available through the college. The Sacramento City College website has detailed information on what is available for you. Be sure to make contact with a school counselor.


Distance Education (DE) course modes can be a great convenience when tight schedules, family and job responsibilities, and transportation needs impact your education.

To help you find which DE modes best fit your needs and learning styles, we have a couple of surveys for you.

Are Distance Education Courses for Me? Complete this brief self-evaluation to help determine if you are a good match for distance education courses.

Learning Styles Assessment. This survey of learning styles will help you determine if your learning style is suited to distance education.

There are no right or wrong answers, and learning more about yourself is fun and useful. An SCC counselor can help you pick the right DE modes for you.

Faculty teaching DE courses maintain regular effective contact with students. This means your instructor will be accessible to you and provide you with regular information and updates about the course. Click here to learn more.

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