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Ask An Advisor: What Is It Like To Take An Online Course?

Ask An Advisor: What Is It Like To Take An Online Course?

Ask An Advisor: What Is It Like To Take An Online Course?

When taking an online course, each will have its own content and its own unique feel because instructors will differ. Like in-person courses, you will follow a curriculum provided in a course syllabus at the beginning of the course. Students are required to complete a syllabus acknowledgement form stating that they understand the rules, regulations, and course expectations. Some online courses provide open education resources (OER) while others use tangible textbooks or e-books. During the first week of an online course, students can opt to take an accelerated 8 week option if the course allows it. Otherwise, the course is 16-weeks unless stated otherwise. If students are unsure about the accelerated option, be sure to reach out to your Academic Advisor.    

All courses in RioLearn are developed with weekly lessons, unless accelerated. Check out the Demo about RioLearn to learn about how to navigate the platform. RioLearn is both user and mobile friendly. While it is fairly straightforward to operate RioLearn some basic technical skills are extremely useful. Need further assistance? New Student Orientation (NSO) is a free helpful tool on how to use the schools learning management system and is not graded.

Every student has their own learning style. In an online course, there are some skills you’ll acquire along the way. For example, rather than showing up at a specific date and time, students will need time management skills since they have flexibility to meet deadlines. Flexibility is a bonus because you can log in and out at your convenience; however, procrastination can become one's worst enemy. It’s a good practice to plan days and times you’ll be available to complete course work. Try not to allow yourself to get distracted by the life around you. 

It’s also a good idea to set yourself up for success with a good study environment. This is a place where you can focus on self-improvement and learning what you’ve set out to accomplish. If you run into a challenge, ask for help from your instructor, tutoring, academic advisement, help desk, counseling & career services, or whichever team you need. We are here to support you and can get you to the right place.

Finally, it’s important to have effective and appropriate communication skills when conversing with your peers, staff, and educational institution. It’s easy to forget to write in full and grammatically correct sentences with a respectful tone. This differs from when we use text or chats. Always treat others how you’d like to be treated, as the old saying goes.

Online courses do require independence, internal motivation, responsibility, but if you're determined to succeed, you already possess the skills needed to get started and see yourself complete.     

Loren Brock is an advisor for our Military Advisement Team at Rio Salado College. She can be reached at

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