There are many ways that online college classes are similar to in-person college classes, and there are many ways that they are different. Here we talk about these similarities and differences, how online college classes work and what to expect if you enroll in an online college program.
Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning
Pre-pandemic, many online college programs simply provided their students with a virtual version of a live class. This was often via a live classroom feed (which is an example of synchronous learning) or via classroom recordings (which is asynchronous learning). This is similar to what many K-12 students experienced during the last year at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In reality, online college classes are not simply adult versions of the distance learning commonly seen in schools. Online college classes tend to be tech-heavy and are designed to leverage different tools and technologies that make it easier for busy, working adults to access their coursework, collaborate with others, research new material, complete assessments, submit work and interact with their instructors and peers.
While some online college courses provide synchronous learning options, such as a dedicated slot for a lecture, most offer access to lecture recordings alongside notes, slides, videos, and other materials that are released at a specific time during the course. Students can access that material anytime once it is made available. Whenever new materials, assignments or notes are shared, students receive a notification that they can log in to their accounts and access the materials in question.
Communications and Scheduling
When it comes to student interactions, live chat, and video along with messaging and email services are the most common way for students to work together and communicate. Students can work with a variety of chat tools, shared document boards, personal mail inboxes and similar applications when working with others. They can also choose when they are online and when they work with others based on their schedule.
Speaking of scheduling, many online programs offer rolling enrollments in which you can take one course at a time and complete it in five- or six-week sprints. That way, you never have to overburden yourself with multiple courses and can complete your course requirements whenever you can during that five- or six-week period. This makes it much easier to balance school, work and family commitments.
At the same time, some students who have time and want to complete their coursework more quickly can opt to enroll in multiple classes at once. This makes it possible to earn a degree more quickly. Furthermore, many online programs may award course credits for relevant work experiences or for courses completed elsewhere. This can significantly lower the cost and the time for completing a degree program.
Flexibility and Accessibility
Perhaps the biggest difference between online and traditional learning is that online programs tend to be more flexible and accessible. As long as you have an internet connection, you can log in, access study materials, message your peers or instructors, conduct research, work on assignments and access other helpful tools and resources.
Whether you are a first-time college student or someone returning to school after years working in an industry, this flexibility is often a make-or-break factor for pursuing higher education. This can be especially true for busy, working adults and anyone with commitments that can prevent them from attending classes at fixed times at a physical location.
Online Programs at University of Phoenix
At University of Phoenix, students have access to a wide range of tools and resources. These include the University’s Learning Management System (LMS). It allows students and faculty to share messages, access course materials, share learning experiences, engage in real-time with others and coordinate while working on assignments.
With regard to coursework, the University of Phoenix’s online classes includes videos, assignments, readings, discussion prompts and a variety of interactive learning activities for each course. Every student has access to the University’s online library, digital textbooks, student communities, and study groups. They can also access tech support, study labs, and academic advisors whenever needed. This is all in addition to useful resources that can help with money management, time management, career planning and striking the right work and family balance.
To make the most of an online college program, it is helpful to have a stable internet connection and a tablet or laptop on which you can watch videos and type. A webcam can also be a good idea and may even be required for some classes.
About University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix offers a wide range of in-person and online study programs that can help you pursue an education that could help you enhance your career. With flexible scheduling, intuitive learning tools and unrestricted access to rich learning resources, we are making higher education and professional advancement a reality for thousands of students every year. Visit us at https://www.phoenix.edu/degrees/find-your-program.html to find your program and to learn more about how a University of Phoenix degree or certificate program could help you.