What to Expect in Online Learning

Overview of BSU online programs and classes

Not all majors and classes at BSU are offered online. Here is a list of our online and off-site majors. Most online classes we offer are those needed by transfer students to complete a major…courses you would take as a junior or senior college student. While we do offer many online liberal education and introductory courses, there are sometimes very few choices in certain goal areas and academic departments. Take note of this if you are choosing an online program, but are a person who likes to have lots of choices in which courses you can take. The Class Schedule does a good job of helping you identify which courses are offered in various formats.

How are online classes structured?

Most BSU online classes will use D2L Brightspace as the learning management system. In D2L, you will see each class you are registered for, and within each class the structure will vary slightly. Some professors provide a highly-structured class with daily, weekly, or unit-based pacing of the class subjects. There are areas for discussions, content, assignments, quizzes, and more. Take some time to explore D2L before your classes begin. There is an orientation to D2L available in your list of classes, if you are unfamiliar with the platform.

D2L works best using a laptop or desktop computer, but you may access your classes using a modern smartphone as well. You should have a reliable high-speed internet connection anywhere you plan to attend your classes.

Do I need to attend classes at specific times?

You might. Purely online classes typically don’t require you to be online at any given time. However, there are due dates for various assignments and exams, so you will need to be diligent about your schedule. A highly-structured course might have something required of you on a near-daily basis, while other classes will be more loosely scheduled, allowing you greater flexibility in when you must be online and when you must contribute to discussions, etc.

Your classes might also require you to schedule times to work collaboratively with other students and/or the professor. Typically, a range of dates will be offered, or you’ll be able to work with your fellow students on a schedule that works best for your team.

Classes with required in-person meetings should detail the time and place you are required to meet, and this information should be in the syllabus and/or course description in eServices Course Search.

How will I interact with others?

D2L includes several interaction options, including traditional discussion forums with topics and prompts. You may also interact through a videoconferencing tool like Zoom or Google Meet. Some class activities are synchronous, meaning you are meeting at the same time, and some are asynchronous, meaning you are contributing your responses and questions at different times, but in some sort of sequence.

You might also use other technologies like phone, email, and texting to get certain things done in your classes. Everything is on the table in terms of how you interact, with the exception of traditional in-classroom methods. As teaching and learning technology improves, we’ll experience more engaging ways to interact in online classes.

What is the typical workload for an online class?

The workload is similar to in-person classes, if not a bit higher. The reason the workload might be higher is that online classes require you to be mindful of your schedule, keep track of documents, dates and deadlines, and collaborative projects on a timeline that is less structured than in-person classroom meetings. Also, you must be more self-reliant and be comfortable with asking questions without getting immediate answers, especially if you do most of your coursework outside of regular school hours.

In general, plan for 3 hours of work each week per credit you are enrolled in. So for a 3-credit class, plan to work up to 9 hours a week on that one class. If you are enrolled in 12 credits, you guessed it…36 hours a week should be dedicated to your courses. That’s why it’s called “full-time” enrollment…it’s as much work as a full-time job.

How long are online classes?

Most BSU online classes follow the same schedule as our on-campus classes. In the fall and spring semesters, this is usually 15 weeks or about 3.5 months. In the summer, classes are usually condensed, ranging from 3 to 9 weeks in length. There are some exceptions to this, so please check your class schedule in eServices, which should indicate the class start and end dates. Beware! Summer classes are shorter, but include the same content as a fall or spring class, so it will feel as though the class is moving very quickly at times.

What are typical assignments in online classes?

You’ll be assigned to readings, recorded (or live) lectures, videos, and other practical and applied assignments depending on the class. Math classes will include math problem practice, while a Business class might require you to interview a professional, or submit your sales pitch by web cam or smartphone recording. There are technology benefits to online classes that allow professors to utilize tools they may not have access to in a traditional classroom, so expect to learn some new ways of doing and submitting assignments. Whatever you do, plan to make the BSU A.C. Clark Library a resource you turn to frequently!

How do I take proctored (supervised) exams?

Some of your online classes will require that you are supervised while taking your class exams. This does not mean you need to come to the BSU campus, although you may if that is convenient for you. Many online students utilize testing sites with an approved proctor local to their area. Alternatively, your professor may offer a virtual proctor service that utilizes your computer’s web cam to record the testing session. For more information on setting up test proctoring for your classes, head over to our Select a Test Proctor resource page.

What should I know before registering for an online class?

Read the course description, notes, and delivery method carefully when registering. All of this information is found in your BSU eServices Course Search tool. Look for key words and phrases like “proctored exams”, “meetings”, “required software”, and other information that is good to know well in advance of the class start date.

Who should I contact when I have problems?

Depending on the trouble you are experiencing, the answer changes. If you are having technical problems with connecting the D2L Brightspace, BSU eServices, or your BSU email account, contact the BSU HelpDesk at helpdesk@bemidjistate.edu or call 218-755-3777. We also encourage you to search the ITS Knowledge Base for answers to common tech questions.

If you are having trouble understanding how to navigate your class, or with finding certain content, assignments, quizzes, or discussions, please contact your professor directly. If you cannot find contact information in the Class Welcome, try the BSU Directory here.