FAQ about Online Classes

Expand your horizons through online learning! For many people, online learning is convenient and allows you to participate in diverse educational opportunities from your own computer. You can choose the location, and in some cases, choose the timing and pace as well, depending on the format. Read on for more information.

Formats vary. Most classes fall into two categories: video conferencing or self-paced -- or a combination.

Video conferencing -- allows you to interact with the instructor and other students in real-time, similar to an in-person class. Sometimes this is called "synchronous learning" or "live online." This format can work well if you enjoy seeing, hearing and interacting with the instructor and other students. You can see shared documents and videos, send text messages and other features. Free online software is used, such as Zoom, and the instructor will email you instructions and a link before the class begins. It's quite simple and intuitive to use once you try it once or twice.

Self-paced -- a learning format based on text, recorded videos, and other supplemental learning materials, such as written assignments, quizzes, audio, infographics, and hands-on labs. This is sometimes called "asynchronous learning." Self-paced classes offer you the flexibility to participate on your own schedule, at your convenience, which can be ideal for people with busy schedules and logistical challenges, and independent learners. These courses often have a way for you to ask questions from the instructor, which might be called "instructor-led," and some might allow you to have text discussions with fellow students taking the same course. Most of these classes are offered through our online educational partners.

Combination -- some courses use a variety of formats. The instructor and students might meet through video conferencing and also use self-paced content.

On each class web page, click on the orange "Register" button. That link will take you to our registration platform, CampusCE. After you register, the instructor will send you any additional information that you will need for the class.

If the class web page does not have a page on our website, that class is probably offered through one of our online educational partners. When you click on the class title, it is a hyperlink that will lead you to a co-branded partner web site. There you will see the class description and details. You can find an FAQ on their site if you have additional questions.

For video conferencing, you will need a personal computer that is connected to the internet with a camera and microphone in order to participate fully, see visual presentations and interact with others. However, there's more than one way to connect! If you don't have a computer with a camera and microphone, you might be able to participate without video/mic, or use your phone to call in.

For self-paced classes, you will need a personal computer that is connected to the internet, and NOT need a camera and microphone.

For classes with subjects about technology or computer software, such as InDesign or Photoshop, you might need to have the software to participate, or additional computer specifications. Please see those class web pages for more information.

Using headphones can really help the audio quality and isolation of your microphone and speakers, for you and for the other participantsYou can use regular headphones and your computer microphone, or invest in a relatively cheap ($20) teleconference-ready headset with a built-in microphone.

The instructor will email you instructions before the class begins, so keep a look out for emails about the class.

It's usually a good practice to take a few minutes to check out your equipment and setup prior to class. Most software applications, like Zoom, Skype, Webex or Teams, have websites where you can check things out prior to the class. Once you get details about which software your class will be using, you might enjoy doing an internet search for short tutorials and handy tips to feel more prepared (including some listed below).

Additional Resources

Here are a few handy tutorials about various videoconferencing options. They are all free to use and tend to be quite similar. It is good to take a few minutes to explore the software before the class begins and test your audio and video. Sometimes it works better if you download the related app. A short introductory video or web search will give you all the information you need to get started!