Online Learning FAQs

What personal skills do I need to succeed in an online course?

  • You must enjoy working independently and be self-motivated. Self-discipline and motivation to succeed are a large part of the online learning success equation. Students who procrastinate have trouble succeeding in online learning.
  • Strong time-management and organizational skills are fundamental.
  • Writing is the primary mode of communication. Comfort with written expression is important.
  • You are expected to be able to read, interpret material, and complete coursework with minimal supervision and direction.
  • You must be comfortable asking questions or expressing difficulties. If not, instructors will assume you are progressing without difficulty.
  • Online instructors do not teach technology skills. Students must have moderate computer experience, including and not limited to the ability to:   
    • Submit and retrieve assignments and other course materials.
    • Send and receive an email with or without attachments.
    • Download files.
    • Work in a Windows environment.
    • Create RTF (rich text formatting) and PDF (portable document format) documents.
    • Effectively navigate the internet/web.


How are online courses taught?

All Sandburg online courses are taught through a course management system. Prior to the course start date, all students must complete the learning management system orientation, located in the student mySandburg portal. Lack of familiarity with the online system will impede learning.

Once logged into the learning management system, you have access to the course syllabus, which outlines the course expectations. In addition to textbook readings, instructors may also use a wide variety of technology tools to supplement learning, such as video recordings of class lectures, informational video clips, web links, social networking programs, etc.


In regard to technology, what do I need to succeed in an online course?

Students need regular and consistent access to a computer and the internet.


What if I have trouble with the technology? How do I get assistance?

If you need tech support, email, or call 309.341.5446.


Are online courses easier of more difficult than traditional lecture courses?

Online courses are neither easier nor more difficult than traditional lecture classes. The same amount of work is expected with either format. The presentation of the information is different, and therefore, in addition to the course content, your learning style and study skills will play a major role in determining the ease or difficulty of the course. Class participation is mandatory. Although flexible by nature, online courses have assignment deadlines just as traditional lecture courses, and late assignments are not accepted. If you fail to make satisfactory progress, the instructor has the right to drop you from the course.


What if I need help with the course content?

  • Students taking internet courses will need to request assistance from their instructor or request tutoring services through the Student Support Center. Contact Stefani Gillen for eligibility requirements at 309.341.5262.


When does my class meet?

Online classes begin on the first day of each semester. Email your instructor on the first day of class, and start out on the right foot. Failure to log into your online class during the first few days of the semester will result in financial aid being pulled for the class.

Online courses are generally conducted asynchronously, which means students and instructors take turns discussing class material in a back-and-forth manner. Most instructors require frequent participation online. You can log into the system whenever it's convenient for you, any time — day or night — to complete assignments, retrieve and/or send course information.


I worry that I'll miss the face-to-face contact of a classroom. Will I be able to communicate sufficiently with the instructor or other students?

Many people mistakenly assume they will feel isolated in an online course. To their surprise, most students find that online courses provide a high degree of personal contact. You will not only be in contact with your instructor, but everyone in the class will be involved in many group and individual discussions. The online format facilitates and enhances communication in ways that would be impossible in other situations. If need be, you can schedule a face-to-face or phone appointment with your instructor.


How do I take my exams for the course?

Some courses are completely online, while some courses require exams to be proctored at pre-approved test-proctoring sites. Proctored exams may be scheduled by contacting the designated test proctor at your local campus:

  • Galesburg campus: Kirk Watson | 309.341.5323
  • Carthage campus: Mandee Allen | 217.357.3129, ext. 7244
  • Out-of-district students should contact your local community college testing center to make test-proctoring arrangements.


What happens if the internet is down or if I have computer problems?

Technology is great when it's running smoothly; however, you should plan and prepare for technology glitches. If your computer is not working, try:

  • Logging off and on again.
  • Rebooting the computer.
  • Access the class by using any computer that is online, including the computers at Sandburg and the public library.
If you do not have computer or internet access at a critical time, call your instructor and let them know your situation. Never wait until the last minute to complete assignments to avoid missing critical deadlines. You never know when computer problems will occur, although you can be certain at some point they probably will.