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Frequently Asked Questions – For Online Learning Students

Course-Related Questions

Technology/System Requirements

Course-Related Questions

Q: What can I expect from an online course?
A:
You can expect to see similar content as a face-to face course; however, online courses offer flexibility, a more personalized learning environment, and access to the latest educational technology

Q: What kinds of students are best prepared to take online courses?
A:
The most successful online learner is self-motivated and possesses strong time management skills. See our tips for success to learn more about the behaviors of successful online students and time management tips for successful online students.

Q: What kind of activities can I expect in online courses?
A:
The rich online learning environment features many different kinds of activities that vary by subject and instructor. Courses may include learning modules with audio and video components, applied learning projects, quizzes, collaborative assignments, discussions and reflections.

Q: How many hours per week should I plan to spend on an online class?
A:
This can vary widely. As a “rule of thumb,” we recommend reviewing the course syllabus and carving out blocks of dedicated study time.

Q: Is it important to meet deadlines for my classes?
A:
Yes. Meeting deadlines, a skill valued by employers, is emphasized in our online courses. A typical online class will require you to complete weekly assignments, and course content builds from one week to the next. You may also have quizzes, assignments, projects or exams with specific deadlines. Please review your course syllabus to determine specific assignments and deadlines as they obviously vary by course, and view our Time Management Tips for Online Students.

Q: What are the differences between campus and online classes?
A:
Our online classes provide the same content as our face-to-face classes. They differ in the method of delivering that content and the means of communication between instructors and students.

Q: Is there a course orientation that I can participate in before the actual course begins?
A:
We have created a number of course access guides that will walk you through the learning management system and web conferencing platform. We recommend that you review the online course guides and other resources found on this site.

Q: Are there a maximum number of students per course?
A:
Course sizes vary, but are always kept to an appropriate size to foster interaction and instructor attention. At GSCS, we strive to keep class sizes manageable for optimizing learner-to-learner and learner-to-instructor interactions.

Q: Can I take your courses if I don't live in North America?
A:
Yes, you can take our courses if you don’t live in North America. We have students from many different countries taking our courses. The courses do include some live chats, but you can usually access a log of the chat if you are unable to attend due to time zone differences. International participants, please note that books shipped internationally will incur additional costs that may be considerably higher.

Q: What are the different types of online courses offered by the Glasscock School?
A:
GSCS offers a wide selection of online learning courses. View all course offerings.

Q: Are your online courses self-paced?
A:
No, most are not. Depending on the instructor, you will have assignments that require you to communicate with other students just as you would in a face-to-face course. Most online courses require you to adhere to due dates for assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. Only courses that are clearly labeled as “on demand” are 100 percent self-paced.

Q: Do I have to be online at specific times?
A:
Depending on the course, you may need to login at designated times. Check individual course information to determine the course schedule and synchronous requirements.

Q: Who teaches online courses?
A:
Members of our online faculty have industry experience as well as academic degrees. Their real-world credentials enrich course materials, class discussions and one-on-one interaction. Additionally, they have completed special training in online education and receive extensive support from the Glasscock School’s Online Learning support team.

Q: Will I interact with my instructors?
A:
Yes. Your instructors will be active within the course and be available during online office hours and via email and phone.

Q: Will I receive continuing education credit for GSCS courses?
A:
Yes. Many of the Glasscock School courses offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Please check the individual course information page for details.

Technology/System Requirements

Q: What kind of equipment do I need in order to participate in an online course?
A:
Computer, headset with microphone, updated web browser, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software are all necessary equipment for the successful completion of an online course. A webcam is optional. See “Technical Specifications” for additional information.

For maximum performance, we recommend these system requirements for the Canvas platform. Additionally, the synchronous sessions in Blackboard Collaborate require a headset with a microphone.

Q: Do I need high speed Internet access for my online classes?
A:
Yes, we recommend high speed wired and /or wireless Internet access, so you can access all course materials, including videos and webcasts. We do NOT recommend less than 56kps download speed.

Q: Can I access my class from my workplace?
A:
For security reasons, many workplaces have firewalls that block outside content. Check with your IT specialist prior to the course start date to ensure you are able to access the learning management system and able to download the Blackboard Collaborate Launcher. System requirements for LMS and Blackboard Collaborate can be found via the following links:

  • Canvas
  • Blackboard Collaborate

Q: Once enrolled, how do I access my course?
A:
You will be contacted by the Glasscock School with your login credentials and link to the learning management system.

Q: What if I forgot my password?
A:
Call the GSCS online help desk at 713-485-9801 or email gscsonlinehelp@rice.edu.

Q: Are there any tutorials that give me an overview of the learning management system or web conferencing platform and show me how to use some of the tools?
A:
Yes. We have created a number of course access guides that will walk you through the learning management system and web conferencing platform. We recommend that you review the online course guides and other resources found on this site.

Q: I am having trouble logging into Blackboard Collaborate for a live session. What do I do?
A:
Call or text the GSCS online help desk at 713-485-9801. Support is available from 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Monday–Thursday and 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. on Friday. For general questions and non-emergency support you can also email gscsonlinehelp@rice.edu.