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What is Distance Education (DE)?

How does an online course work?

Distance Education courses are every bit as challenging as traditional courses. In order to succeed in a Distance Education course, you must be self-motivated and be able to work well independently with minimum supervision. You do not see your instructor regularly, so you must be able to manage your time effectively and stay on track with your coursework. You also need strong reading and study skills. You will find detailed information about the skills and equipment you need to be successful in an online course in the Student Handbook for Online Courses. 

Students in online courses communicate with their instructor and classmates electronically via a course website. The instructor posts such things as lectures, assignments, announcements, and other information to the site. The class may respond with questions, comments, etc.  Online students must have at a minimum:
  • Regular access to the Internet and a computer (either a PC with Windows and a Pentium processor or a Macintosh with at least system 9.0)
  • A recent version of a web browser such as Microsoft Explorer
  • An Internet Service Provider (dial up access will not be sufficient for online courses.)
  • An email address (ECC provides an email address for all students)
  • Current word processing software as required by the instructor Some courses may have additional requirements. Computer literacy and experience with computer communication is recommended.

Will I be required to attend class meetings on campus?

This is determined by the course instructor. Many instructors have on-campus meetings, but some do not. For details, please consult the Student Handbook for Online Courses, available here on our website.

Course Management Systems (CMS)

Most of our online instructors use Etudes-NG to communicate with their students. You may visit the ECC Distance Education website to learn which CMS will be used by your instructor. Your Instructor will provide you with information about the program at the start of the semester. If your instructor is using Etudes-NG, you can read more about it in the Online Student Handbook.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Distance Education? Can anyone take these classes?

Distance Education courses are designed for students who desire flexibility and convenience in their studies. We offer both online and hybrid courses.  Below are the definitions of hybrid and online courses:

Hybrid - Some of the instruction occurs using the internet and some of the instruction is delivered during regularly scheduled classroom meetings.

Online - Most (or all) of the instruction is delivered at a distance using the internet.

Our courses are fully accredited and are considered equivalent to on-campus courses. Anyone who is eligible to take regular courses on campus may enroll in Distance Education courses. Consult the ECC Schedule of Classes or the college website for registration information.

 How do these courses work? How will I interact with my instructor?

Students in online courses communicate with their instructor and classmates electronically via a course website. The instructor posts such things as lectures, assignments, announcements, and other information to the site. The class may respond with questions, comments, etc. Some of our instructors are using a website for their course; others are using course management programs such as ETUDES-NG, Blackboard, and others.

 Will I be required to attend class meetings on campus?

This is determined by the instructor. Many instructors have on-campus meetings at the start of the semester, but some do not. If you are taking a course that has a scheduled first class meeting, your instructor will give you a course syllabus at that time. Instructors teaching entirely online will provide you with a syllabus online. The syllabus will include the course requirements and information about any on-campus sessions you will be expected to attend.

If my instructor holds a first class meeting, and plans to hold additional on-campus meetings later in the semester, will they be on the same day and at the same time as the first class meeting?

Usually, yes. We encourage our instructors to schedule all class meetings on the same day and at the same time as the first meeting. Check with your course instructor for that information.

The first class meeting conflicts with another course I want to take. What should I do?

Do not enroll in both courses – choose only one.

How are examinations administered?

Again, this is determined by the course instructor. Some instructors administer exams at on-campus meetings, while others administer them online. Your instructor will provide you with details.

What software and hardware do I need? You must have at a minimum:

  • Regular access to the Internet
  • A Computer – either a PC with Windows and a Pentium processor or a Macintosh with at least System 10.0
  • A recent version of a web browser such as FireFox or Microsoft Explorer
  • An Internet Service Provider
  • An Email Address
  • Current Word Processing Software as required by the instructor
  • Some courses may have additional requirements. Your instructor will give you more information.

I don’t have a computer at home. Can I still take an online course?

Yes, as long as you’re sure you’ll have regular access to a computer that’s connected to the Internet. Some of our students use computers they have at work. There are also computer labs on campus with Internet access. (Like the Computer Commons in the Library Media Technology Center, for example – more details later.)

What kind of computer skills should I have?

In order to succeed in this type of course, you must be computer literate and have experience in computer communication. That is, you should have good word processing skills, and be familiar with sending and receiving email. You should also feel comfortable navigating the World Wide Web. It is very important that you have these skills before enrolling in an online course, because it will take some time for you to become accustomed to the way an online course works. Before you know it, you will need to concentrate on the course material, and you won’t have much time to deal with technical matters. Check the “Skills You’ll Need” section in the Online Student Handbook. It will help you determine whether or not you’re ready for an online course.

I think I have the technical skills I need, but I’ve never taken a course like this. How do I know if this is right for me?

In order to succeed in a Distance Education course, you must be self-motivated and be able to work well independently with minimum supervision. You do not meet regularly with your instructor in the classroom, so you must be able to manage your time effectively and stay on track with your coursework. It’s also important that you have strong reading and writing skills. (See the “Tips for Success” section in the Online Student Handbook)

Distance Education courses are every bit as challenging as on-campus courses. In fact, surveys we’ve conducted reveal that some students find Distance Education courses more difficult.

Will I have to be online at a particular time?

Some instructors require students to be online at a particular time to take quizzes or exams, or to participate in chat sessions. You may contact your instructor for details.

What do I do if I need help?

It’s very important that you get in touch with your instructor as soon as possible if you’re having trouble. You may contact them by phone or by email. Our full-time instructors hold weekly office hours, so you can visit them in person, if you wish. A Faculty Directory is available at our office and on our website.

If you find you need help with the course material, check out the Tutoring Program administered by the ECC Learning Resources Center (LRC). Tutors help students prepare for tests, learn new concepts, improve study techniques, and answer questions about assignments. Free tutoring for ECC students is available each semester. All LRC tutors are highly trained and certified. Visit the Tutoring website for more information: http://www.elcamino.edu/library/lrc/tutoring/index.asp

What do I do if I can’t access my course online?

If for some reason you cannot access your course, email or call your instructor or the Distance Education Office. We will get in touch with our Information Technology Services department and find out what the problem is. In the future we hope to have a “Technical Help Number” students can call, but until that time, we will contact ITS on your behalf.

Will I have to buy books for the course?

Yes. Your instructor will give you information about the text materials you’ll need for your course. They are available in the El Camino College Bookstore. The El Camino College Bookstore is now open 24/7. They can ship your books to your home or you can pick them up in the store. Visit the online at http://elcamino.collegestoreonline.com/.

Does Distance Education courses transfer to other schools?

We advise you to check with a counselor at the school you plan to transfer to so you are sure the course will be accepted. Many schools accept our courses, but some do not. (By the way, your transcript will not specify that the course you took was delivered in a Distance Education format.)

What if I find I can’t continue in my course? Can I withdraw from it?

Yes, but in order to receive a “W” (Withdrawal), you must withdraw before the deadline. Consult the current ECC Schedule of Classes or visit the ECC WebServices site (http://www.elcamino.edu/myecc/) for more information. Please note that dropping a course is your responsibility. Your instructor is not responsible for dropping you from your course!

 Last Published 11/6/14