Distance Education

FAQs about Online Learning

Common questions that online learners have about Internet-based classes. They will also provide you insight on handling technical issues.

Is Distance Education for You?

Distance education has certain advantages over traditional face-to-face courses. However, distance education also requires students to be more self-motivated and technologically savvy. Distance education also requires different learning and teaching styles. So, is distance education for you? These questions will help guide you in your decision.

What is Blackboard?

Blackboard is a user-friendly “site” that allows you to navigate through online course materials, send e-mails, chat with the instructor and other students in the class, use discussion forums, and link to online resources. One student login will access all of the courses in which you are registered for each semester/term.

How do I get on the Internet?

You will be responsible for obtaining your own Internet Service Provider, but remember, once you have a provider, you will be able to access many other things on the Internet, not just your class! The provider cost is an additional cost; it is not included in the cost of the class.

Are there special requirements for Internet courses?

Yes. Students must meet specific academic and skill requirements prior to enrolling into an internet course. There are also computer hardware and software requirements for these classes.

When does my online course begin and end?

All online courses begin when the semester (or minimester if applicable) begins, and ends likewise. Instructors will provide a specific schedule for their course. Students will have to meet assignment and testing deadlines set by each individual instructor.

Will I ever have to come on campus for this online course?

Internet classes have no scheduled sessions on-campus, although instructors reserve the right to require test-taking in the on-campus testing center.

How much time will I need to spend studying and doing coursework?

It is expected that students will spend an average of two hours of study each week for each semester hour credit. Please note, in actual practice, some courses may require many more hours of study. In such cases, the online instructor will provide guidance on the amount of time required for his/her course.

What if I have questions about the course, textbooks, grading, or testing?

If a student has questions about a particular online course, he/she should contact the course instructor. Each instructor determines where testing for his/her course takes place (online or in a campus testing center). Some courses use textbooks, others do not. If a student has questions about textbook requirements, he/she should contact the course instructor. The student can also check with the bookstore to see if a textbook has been specified for the course.

Note: Students may purchase textbooks on campus, reserve textbooks for pickup on campus (online credit card payment required), or have textbooks shipped to them. For the details about these and other options, students should review the information posted under “Textbooks” at the RCCC Bookstore website.

Any tips on how to use the Internet more effectively?

The best time to avoid heavy Internet traffic is in the early morning. The heaviest traffic is usually between 5 – 9 p.m. on weekdays.

What if I have questions about using Blackboard?

A Blackboard Help Desk is available 24-hours-per-day, 7-days-per-week to provide assistance to students who have questions about using Blackboard, the software used to create and host course content online. Contact information and links to the online support site are available within each internet course.

Note: Course specific questions (such as those about assignments, tests, grades, and course content) should be directed to the instructor only.

How do I get assistance with technical issues?

First, try to determine whether the problem is a result of a malfunction on your personal computer or if the problem resides on an external network/server. As always, if it is a malfunction on your personal computer, or with your Internet Service Provider (ISP), please contact the appropriate vendor or provider.

If you can’t access your course (server not responding or the page won’t display) but you can access the Internet and other web sites, please notify the Blackboard Help Desk. Our server may be down OR the site may not be accessible using your current Internet provider or web browser. Rowan-Cabarrus does provide technical resources in the form of links to technical sites and skill tutorials. This information is found within each course under the Online Learning Resources section of External Links.

How can I prevent or prepare for technical problems?

You can…

  • Make sure your computer meets minimal requirements (see above for a link to requirements). Whenever possible, use computers that exceed these standards…
  • Know the specifications of your computer. Try not to run programs that you know may be more than it can handle. If you have to get help, knowing what kind of computer it is will help troubleshooters find solutions.
  • Plan your academic schedule and take special care not to put assignments off until the last minute. A broken server or other technical problem is no big deal if you’ve left an extra day or two to finish the work.
  • Save your work frequently, including copies of papers, assignments, important email messages, and anything else you wouldn’t want to retype should an accident occur. Save hard copies of especially important documents as well.
  • Scout an alternate source of Internet access in advance. This might be a school, public library, or a friend’s home. There are so many sources of access anymore that one broken computer is not a good excuse for failure to work on a course.
  • Print contact information for your instructor, your Internet Service provider, and other sources of help. Having it on your computer is no good if the computer won’t work.