Frequently Asked Questions about Online and Hybrid Courses

If you are enrolled in an online or hybrid course and have unanswered questions, you're not alone. There is no more valuable resource than your instructor, who is readily available via email, phone, or voicemail to assist you. In addition, you may email canvas@panola.edu or dl@panola.edu.

Someone will reply as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are some FAQ's and answers. Please keep in mind that these are general questions and you should always check with your instructor for specifics.

 


 

 

Can I apply to Panola College online?

Yes, you can apply online. Go to the college home page and click on Texas Common Application.

How does an online class work?

Instead of attending classes on campus, course work is made available online through the course management system Instructure Canvas. Some teachers require a face-to-face orientation, and it is college policy that at least two test or activities must be proctored. Testing services are available in Carthage, Marshall, and Center. However, you may use another institution's testing services with the permission of your professor. It is best to immediately find out what your professor requires.

While learning materials vary from class to class, they usually include textbooks, online podcasts (audio and video) PowerPoint presentations, interactive lessons, and Internet resources. Learning activities may include writing papers, posting comments or essays to online discussion forums, completing individual or group projects, and taking quizzes and exams. While students can choose when and where they work, there are eadlines for homework and exams.

Students interact with their teacher and classmates via web discussion forums, e-mail, chat sessions, and phone calls. If the course is hybrid, then there are face-to-face meetings.

Is an online class the same as a self-paced/independent study class?

No, most online classes are NOT entirely self-paced. You can expect due dates for homework, online class participation, and other activities similar to those you would find in a "regular" on-site class.

Is taking an online class easier than taking a regular class?

No. The course content of an online class usually is identical to that of a face-to-face class on the same topic. Some people think the course is even more demanding than a regular face-to-face class because you have to be have good reading comprehension, good computer skills, and self-disciplined. It is best to have high-speed connection to the Internet. Open labs are available on campus for students.

What Internet skills would be helpful in an online class?

The most successful students tend to have the following skills:

  • Familiarity with web browsers (Canvas prefers Firefox.)
  • Familiarity with email program and attaching documents and opening attachments
  • Knowledge of how to make and organize electronic bookmarks
  • Familiarity with web-based interactions - email, listservs, online discussions, etc.
  • Familiarity with Microsoft Word
  • Experience in successful Internet searches using a variety of search engines
  • A level of comfort using technology

What equipment and software do I need to be an online student?

You will need:

  • Access to a fairly new computer
  • Reliable Internet access - high-speed definitely preferred
  • Firefox browser (latest version)
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word
  • Course specific software - as required by professor

All online and hybrid courses use Instructure Canvas as the Learning Management System.

Do I have to own a computer to enroll in an online class?

Strictly speaking, no. But you must have easy access to a computer with reliable Internet access throughout the semester. You can access computers on campus in several locations (such as the Library or Gullette Student Open Lab). Some students complete online classes from work (having arranged this beforehand with their employer, of course), public libraries, or friends' houses.

How much time do I have to spend in an online class?

In short, you should plan to spend at least the same amount of time you would spend for a face-to-face class. Nearly all online students agree that online courses are neither faster nor easier!

Do I have to log on to class at a particular time?

Usually not. You will have deadlines for posting your assignments, quizzes, etc., but when you complete that work (5:00 am, 11:30 pm or any other time) is up to you. You would be well-advised to set up a daily schedule to avoid being overburdened at the end of the week. If you have a problem, contact the instructor or use the discussion bulletin board to try to get help from other students in the class. You won't like the feeling of leaving work until the last minute and then running into trouble!

Where do we meet for online or hybrid class?

Generally, you won't really "meet" in a physical face to face sense for an online class. Instead, the class will interact regularly through the Internet and everyone will communicate with each other using Canvas email and discussion. Your instructor will make course materials and assignments available using web pages, the bulletin boards, and announcements. Hybrid courses usually meet a majority of the time in a virtual environment.

How do I turn in homework and take tests?

This varies, but you will usually get assignments by email or on the course website with instructions for turning in the work. You might be asked to email or upload your work, complete an online quiz, or participate in web-based discussion. Teachers use Canvas to manage assignments, discussion, quizzing, and grading. Each Panola site has a testing center. Time of operation are not the same each semester, so keep a check on the testing center web page.

What's it like to be an online student?

Online classes are very different from face to face classes on campus. In general you can expect to:

  • Spend 3 hours per week working on the class. For example, for a typical 3-hour course, you will spend at least 6-9 hours per week on course reading, assignments, and communication
  • Participate in online discussions or other written communication
  • Experience an uncomfortable transition period. It can take a few weeks to learn how the course works if you've never had on online class before
  • Experience some frustration with written communication. Most people find it easier to ask questions face to face because the response is usually immediate. You can always call your professor or make an appointment to visit in person.

What can I expect from my professor?

You can expect your professor to do all the things he would do for you in a face-to-face class.

You can expect:

  • A syllabus and course schedule.
  • Assignments with clear instructions and timely feedback.
  • Prompt responses to questions.
  • Clear guidelines about how long it will take to get homework and quiz scores and responses to questions.
  • Netiquette and protocol to be enforced. You are in college.

You should not expect:

  • 24/7 support. Honor the professor's virtual office hours. He or she does not sit at the computer all weekend.
  • Help with prerequisite skills.

What do online instructors expect from students?

There typically is little difference here than in a regular face-to-face class.

Instructors expect everyone will participate in the class with courtesy and consideration for each other and for the instructor. Emails and web postings should be appropriate, relevant, and reflective of a professional demeanor. Inappropriate behavior includes, but is not limited to, the following: inappropriate remarks online, cyber bullying, and plagiarism.

It is a violation of college policy to plagiarize or to recycle work. Panola College instructors had access to and use Turnitin, a leading plagiarism checker. Please refrain from:

  • Taking others' thoughts or words without appropriate acknowledgment.
  • Submitting work that has been written or revised in part or in whole by another person.
  • Submitting work that you have submitted for another class.

Do you have any tips for online students?

  • Schedule time to focus on the class. Don't think that you don't need to make time for class just because you're not on campus. Write session times in your calendar just as you would for an on-campus class, and make sure you have a quiet place to work.
  • Keep up with the class and make it a top priority. The biggest problem online students have is gradually falling behind.
  • Do assignments BEFORE the due date.
  • Have a back-up plan in case of technical problems.
  • Work with a small group, either in person or via phone or email.
  • Communicate! Your teacher can't see your facial expressions or body language. You must be willing to speak up using email, discussion boards, or phone calls. Ask if you are not clear about instructions, due dates, or your progress. Remember, writing an email to your instructor is not the same as texting a friend.

Where can I get materials and books?

Online class materials and books are available from the College Bookstore. Required class materials and text books are listed. All class materials and textbooks, unless otherwise specified, are required for the first day of class.

How do I get started?

For most online and hybrid classes, you cannot log on until the first day of class. To log on, click on the Sign In link on the college's home page. You should be able to log on with the same user name and password that you used to register for the class. If you are unable to access the course, please contact canvas@panola.edu. If you continue to have difficulty, email your instructor. All campus faculty emails are found in the College directory.