Online Learning: Frequently Asked Questions

Is online learning effective?
Yes, online classes are effective. Research shows that students in online classes learn as much or more than students in traditional classes.

How is online learning different for students?
Successful online students are self-directed; they are motivated to log in to their courses on an almost daily basis. In a traditional classroom, most of the communication occurs through speaking; in an online course, most of the communication is written. Thus, online students do best if they focus on effective writing skills, and are able to read and comprehend well. Online students take the initiative; when they face challenges they reach out to their instructors for support and guidance.

Are there tips for being a good online student?
Yes. The suggestions below are from successful online faculty and students.

  1. Read the syllabus. You will be asked to read the syllabus when you log on to your class. The syllabus is found under the “Course Info” block in the Moodle site. You may want to print the syllabus for quick and easy reference. Each faculty has his or her own expectations, and successful online students take the time to read the syllabus and understand the requirements for participation and engagement in the class.

  2. Log on to your course every day. Make a habit of logging on to your class every day to remain current and on task. Check the forums for updates, and for weekly assignments. Students in online classes report that it is difficult to catch up if they fall behind.

  3. Participate and Interact. The best way to learn and enjoy your experience in an online class is to participate and interact with your peers and faculty. The more you engage with them, the more you will learn. The best place for interactions is the weekly forum where you will discuss the academic content with your faculty and peers. Students who interact and engage in online classes achieve greater success.

  4. Commit 11 to 14 hours per course, per week. Online classes are not easier than traditional classes. While you don't have to attend classes on campus, you do have to show continuous participation in the weekly forums and meet other deadlines. Your time in an online class may be spent in the forums, completing readings, watching video clips, listening to podcasts and performing research in the virtual library as well as writing papers. Commit six to nine hours per week for each online class for a rich and rewarding learning experience.

  5. Speak up if you are having problems. Your online faculty encourage you to communicate with them. They may not know when you are struggling with the class so reach out to them for help, or for clarification about the course requirements. Communicate directly with them and they will point you in the right direction or facilitate support for you. Use email for personal questions such as understanding your grade, or if you are unable to meet a deadline. Use the public forum “Your Questions” for course-related questions. You need to advocate for your academic needs.

  6. Apply what you learn. Apply everything you learn as you learn it and you will remember it more readily. If it is possible, take the things you learn in your online course today and use them in your workplace tomorrow.

  7. Don't panic when the technology doesn't work. Try again, and if the system still doesn't work, contact the Helpdesk (and cc your instructor so he/she is aware of the issue). If Moodle is “down,” it is down for everyone including your instructor, so sit tight and focus on a reading or other assignment.

What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning?
Synchronous learning is “real time” learning scheduled on specific dates and at specific times. For example, traditional campus courses are taught synchronously. Asynchronous learning allows students to engage with classmates, instructors and the content at times and places convenient to them. There are still due dates for readings, accessing content and completing assignments, but the student can decide to complete these at his or her convenience within the specified time frame.

General CSC Online FAQs

Can I register for an online class if I am not in a degree program?
Yes, you can. You can register for any online course. If there is a prerequisite for it, please contact the registrar.

Will my online credits transfer to another institution?
Colby-Sawyer suggests that transferring students contact the registrar at the receiving institution in advance to verify transfer of credit. Colby-Sawyer College is a regionally accredited institution.

Do I ever have to come to campus?
No, you do not have to come to our physical campus for a 100% online class. Check your program requirements in advance to make sure there are no residency requirements. You may choose to come to campus to use the library, meet your instructor, attend graduation or just to visit and see the beautiful setting.

Will I work closely with my online instructor?
Yes. Colby-Sawyer College understands that close interaction between faculty and students is essential for success, and for achieving the learning outcomes of the course and the program. Expect to work closely with an instructor if you take an online course at Colby-Sawyer College.

Can I earn a degree completely online at Colby-Sawyer College?
Yes. Check here to find out which certificate and degree programs are 100 percent online at Colby-Sawyer College.

How do I apply to an online program?
Apply to an online program here.

How do I register for online courses?
Register for online courses at Colby-Sawyer College here.

How can I get textbooks and course materials for my online classes?
Students can purchase books and course material through the online store.

As an online student, will I have access to the library and library resources?
Yes. Online students have access to the virtual library which can be accessed through the online course room or Web Gateways.

As on online student, will I have access to academic help and tutoring?
Yes. Online tutoring is available 24/7 through Nettutor.

Technology FAQs

What is Moodle?
Moodle is a learning management system that provides access to your course content, instructor and classmates. It is the name of the browser-based software that gives you access to your virtual classroom.

How do I access my Colby-Sawyer College student email?
Go to and > select Web Gateways (located in the upper right hand corner). Select > Student email -

What is myColby-Sawyer and how do I access it?
myColby-Sawyer is the internal portal for Colby-Sawyer-College. As a student, you will find important information about your courses, your program, your grades, and resources within this internal site. To login go to: and log in using your username and password.

How do I access my online courses?
Go to