Online programs have become widely available from colleges, as they provide a flexible way for students to learn on their own terms. Online options may be strictly scheduled or self-paced, depending on the type of program.
Distance learning degrees are available through traditional two-year community colleges, four-year universities, and private online schools. Where to get a diploma online. Learn about course formats, scheduling options, the virtual classroom environment, class participation requirements, technological necessities, and learning style considerations.
There are a wide variety of fully online programs, although some schools utilize a hybrid format, which combines online and campus-based classes. Hybrid learning is more common for majors that require hands-on training, such as engineering or allied health fields.
Scheduling options differ between courses. The more traditionally scheduled class assigns and requires students to complete regular assignments and tests by certain dates throughout the semester. A self-paced course allows students to work at whatever pace they may wish, for as long as necessary to complete the course. Many classes fall somewhere in between these two formats and require students to have all work submitted by a particular date at the end of the semester.
Most online classes are presented via a website that integrates forums, an instant messenger, e-mail, and streaming audio and video. Programs also offer testing and real-time assignment review capabilities to create an online classroom environment for students. This virtual classroom makes it easy for students to view class calendars or informational posts as well as the lectures and assignments that teachers have posted, which can include video, audio, or text files.