eLearning & Instructional Technology

About Distance Learning

Distance learning is a flexible and convenient method of earning college credits toward most degrees offered by Virginia Western. These courses do not require regular classroom attendance and are online (requiring a computer and Internet/email access).

Distance learners must take an active approach to learning. The instructor has constructed the course for you and will provide you feedback, but you are responsible for learning the material. Not only will you read the material and complete assignments, but you will also address important issues and ask questions when you need clarification. Most importantly, you are responsible for keeping motivated and engaged with the course content.

Getting off on the right foot is important in any course, but it is especially critical for success in distance learning courses. Capable, committed and conscientious students usually are successful distance learners, but it is easy to get overwhelmed with job and/or family obligations and fall behind in college courses when there are no regularly scheduled class meetings. This page has some suggestions for how students can start off right and achieve success as distance learners.

Orientation

An on-campus orientation meeting will be held at VWCC at the beginning of the fall semester. If you are a student who has never taken a distance learning course, you must either attend an orientation session on the VWCC campus or complete the eLearning Online Orientation. Each instructor determines how the completed online orientation will be recorded and evaluated but the requirement must be met either by attending the campus orientation or completing the online orientation. At the beginning of the semester, distance learning students also need to finish the course orientation activities that the instructor has posted on Blackboard (usually, these orientation activities are under the Course Orientation button).

Tips for Success

Distance learning courses are designed for students who (a) live far from campus, (b) have mobility and/or transportation difficulties, or (c) have busy lives, demanding jobs, family obligations, and tight schedules. Because distance learning courses ordinarily have no classroom meetings, more of the responsibility rests with the student to learn the material and complete the assignments.

The two main reasons for failure in distance learning courses are procrastination and an inability to study and comprehend the material. Students mistakenly think that distance learning courses will be easier, but often discover that the opposite is the case. The course content and requirements are essentially the same, but are done without classroom instruction. Here are some suggestions for success in distance learning courses:

  • Attend orientation on campus or online and review course orientation.
  • Don't over commit yourself. Sign up only for the number of courses you can handle with your other obligations - no more than if they were regular courses.
  • Get the materials right away (videotapes, textbooks, handouts, etc.).
  • Stay in touch with the instructor by phone or email.
  • Follow the schedule of due dates.
  • Set aside a regular time and place for studying.
  • Acknowledge that a three-credit course requires 6 to 9 hours a week at a minimum.

Course Syllabus

In distance learning courses, the syllabus is an important link between the instructor and the student. It is important that students read through the entire syllabus and follow the instructions. Students should ask the instructor about any questions regarding course policies and procedures that are not covered in the syllabus.

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