Are you ready for online learning? See the 10 things to expect from a CMU Online class.
1. Interaction required
CMU Online courses are designed for students to interact with each other. Subject matter and concepts taught within the course are reinforced through the sharing of students' personal experiences. Therefore, you should expect much of your learning will come from your classmates as well as yourself. Learning becomes comprehension when students are able to apply concepts to experiences.
The interaction will take place in many forms and may include:
- Discussion board posts you make.
- Comments you make on other students' discussion board posts.
- Papers you write that are critiqued by your classmates.
- Synchronous class meeting times online where you discuss various topics.
- Group projects.
2. Seeing your face
Some online classes may require your smiling face to be seen. You may need to be physically present to take a proctored exam, to be viewed via a webcam when participating in a live class session or completing an online exam. Be prepared! Review the course syllabus to learn if this will be a requirement for your online class.
3. Giving credit where credit is due
Academic integrity is taken very seriously at Central Michigan University. If you use someone else's work, you must give them the credit for it through proper citations. Instructors will place submitted work through an anti-plagiarism detector. Questions regarding the Academic Integrity Policy can be directed to the Office of Student Conduct.
4. College courses require college-level reading, writing, & critical thinking
Central Michigan University places a high emphasis on each student's ability to write at the college level. In today's culture, we communicate in tweets and via posts. We talk in abbreviations and use emojis to convey our thoughts. CMU courses, however, will require proper grammar, complete sentences, and the ability to articulate your thoughts and defend your position. Writing support is available at no cost through the Writing Center.
Much of the content within an online course is conveyed via the written word. CMU online courses strive to provide content in a variety of formats such as video lectures, internet resources, PowerPoint presentations, etc. Even with these tools, there is much reading to be done within an online class. Be prepared for lots of reading - and not just skimming through. You will be expected to read thoroughly, comprehend what is being presented, and be able to apply the principles you have learned.
Coursework will require students to think critically, perform research, and analyze subject matter being presented and assimilate it into their experiences. Learning occurs when students seek out the answer, so be prepared for your instructor to encourage you to complete this step. Most online courses are a traditional 16-week courses moved into accelerated 8 or 12-week courses. Students should expect the same amount of work a 16-week courses contains but compressed down into a shorter time frame.
5. Due dates do exist
Some online courses at other institutions may be completed at whatever pace and time frame the student desires. Online courses offered by Central Michigan University, however, follow a structured format of weekly schedules and assignments with due dates. This is to help avoid procrastination and to complete sections of the course in a logical weekly format. By having assessments graded throughout the course, students understand how they are doing in the course, what they are mastering well, and what areas need more focus.
6. Time management juggling skills are needed
Students pursuing online courses are often working full-time jobs, raising a family, and busy with other civic obligations. It's challenging to fit educational pursuits in with work demands and family needs. Successful online students should be prepared to do a fair amount of juggling - in other words, be able to plan and manage their time.
Students in online courses should review the upcoming course(s) they plan to take to understand the course requirements and the amount of time they will need to devote to their studies. This should be compared to upcoming projects at work, family events, children's activities, etc. A course calendar is a helpful tool to create prior to the start of class where assignment due dates can be listed along with work deadlines and family events. This will provide a visual guide where study time can be carved out and help students to meet approaching deadlines.
7. Technical issues can and will happen
At some point in time, it will happen. Your computer crashes. You can't get an assignment to upload. A software program won't download. And of course, it always happens at the most inopportune moment. We can't always avoid a technical pitfall, but successful students will be prepared when one does occur. The first step to any tech issue is to try and troubleshoot it yourself by looking for obvious reasons the problem occurred. If none can be found, the next step is to contact the CMU Help Desk for assistance by calling (989) 774-3662. If CMU technicians can't resolve it immediately, the issue will be elevated to a second-tier technician. Having the issue logged with the Help Desk provides supporting validation that may be needed by your instructor and helps CMU identify what could be a larger problem.
For issues resulting from the student's computer crashing, a backup plan should be in place ahead of time where an alternative computer has been identified that can be quickly and easily accessed so coursework can continue without interruption. This may be another device owned by the student, computer access at a local public library, or even using resources available at a nearby CMU service center location. It is a best practice to save documents and files pertaining to coursework in the cloud where they can be accessed from any computer. CMU provides free cloud storage to students via OneDrive which is accessed through their CMU email account.
8. You are here
Online courses break time zone barriers and provide a unique opportunity to be 'in class with students from around the world. This brings with it the challenge of communicating across various time zones, collaborating on projects, and hosting live meeting times.
Online courses follow the Eastern Standard Time Zone. This means that assignment due dates, live meeting times and instructor office hours are always listed in Eastern Standard Time.
Courses are set up in weekly modules which start on a Monday and end on the following Sunday. The term is counted in weeks, so Week 1 of a course would be from the start date on a Monday through to the following Sunday. The final week of the term is the exception as it runs Monday through Friday. Online courses always start on a Monday and end on a Friday.
Often, instructions and due dates are shown as Monday of the 4th week or Sunday or Week 3. It's a lot to keep track of and requires converting the soft dates of 'Sunday of Week 3' to actual dates like November 9th. A great tool to help with this is a calendar (wall or desk calendar, Outlook, smartphone calendar, etc.) where weeks of the term can be mapped out and due dates for assignments can be recorded. The visual a calendar can provide is a very helpful resource to keep you on track throughout the course!
9. There's another professor in my course
Seeing another instructor's name listed in your course doesn't mean there's an imposter in your class. CMU's online courses are developed by a professor selected by the department chairperson. In your online class, you may see video lectures, PowerPoint presentations or announcements by the instructor who developed the courses for the online format but is not the professor teaching your class.
The development instructor ensures that the learning outcomes achieved in the online course are the same learning outcomes that are taught in CMU's classroom courses. Once a course has been developed for online offering, the course content is provided to all other instructors who teach the course. This ensures consistency across course offerings and that learning objectives are being met across all sections.
10. Expect assistance
You have a CMU team available to assist you if you need help. Those 'CMU Connections' include:
- Your instructor.
- Your academic advisor found on Degree Progress.
- CMU Online staff.
- Library Services.
- Help Desk.
If you feel you need assistance, reach out to the area that seems the most logical. If it's not the correct one, they will direct you to where you need to go.