Online Learning Orientation

Online Learning at Salish Kootenai College

Online learning is completing academic courses using the internet. Courses are delivered over a Learning Management System (LMS). Learners log into the LMS to access course content, complete assignments, and engage with classmates and instructors.

At Salish Kootenai College (SKC), online learning refers to academic programs or courses that are delivered to learners completely online. Academic programs may have the option for all required courses to be taken at distance and the student rarely comes to campus. Academic programs may also offer a single course online. Students need to communicate with their academic advisor to determine if programs and courses are offered online.

Course Delivery

Asynchronous Course Delivery does not require learners to log into a course at a specific time. Students access course content through the LMS platform. Assignments instructions, requirements, and due dates are listed for students in the LMS. Students are responsible for engaging in assignments, discussions, and activities. Students work at their own pace to meet the assignment due dates. Instructors facilitate the course via LMS messages, emails, and discussions.

Synchronous Course Delivery requires learners to log into a virtual classroom at a specified time. Instructors deliver their lectures during this time. Students access course content through the LMS platform. Assignments, instructions, requirements, and due dates are listed for students in the LMS. Students are responsible for engaging in the live virtual class, assignments, discussions, and activities. Instructors facilitate the course via virtual class time, LMS messages, emails, and discussions.

Online Learning Expectations

Just like any classroom setting, online learning has expectations that students need to meet.  These expectations are centered around student success. Students are responsible for knowing and understanding the expectations required for online learning.


Participation in a course can differ depending on the delivery of the course. Asynchronous courses may require participation in weekly discussions. Online students must engage in the discussion and respond to classmates.  Students may be required to meet weekly or biweekly with the instructor. In a course that is delivered synchronously, a student may have to participate by being present in the online lecture at a specific time. Being present could mean having your camera on and participating in the lecture through chat or discussions.

Participation in an online course also requires a learner to complete all assignments on time. This means students need to access content and review the assignment early in the week. This allows time for the student to understand the expectations of the assignment and gives time for the student to request assistance from the instructor. 


Having the ability to communicate is crucial in the online environment. Online students must communicate with instructors on a regular basis, usually weekly if not more. Students who are struggling need to communicate their struggle with the instructor as early as possible.  When an instructor reaches out to a student, the student needs to respond in a timely manner. The instructor’s role is to assist in the learning process; however, if the student does not communicate, it is very difficult for the instructor to assist the student. 

Accessing Course Content

Online students are expected to access course content regularly.  Students should log into their online course on the first day of classes and review the course syllabus, along with any other welcome information from the instructor. This will allow students to be knowledgeable about the course structure and prepare them to start assignments. After the first day of classes, students should access course content a few times each week. Students need to be aware of assignment due dates and course content that may be added. Instructors may use the LMS as a communication tool to let students know what is happening in the course that week or provide other important information.

How to be Successful in Online Learning

Time Expectations

Time expectations can differ depending on the number of course credits, the student’s learning style and previous knowledge of course content.  At SKC, one credit is equal to one hour per week of instruction. On average for every one credit of instruction weekly, students can expect to spend two hours per week outside of class completing course assignments. Students are expected to know the time commitment of each course they are taking. This will allow students to plan their time accordingly between school, work, and/or family obligations.

Course Credit

Instruction Time Outside of Class Total Time Each Week


1 hour 2 hours

3 hours


2 hours 4 hours

6 hours


3 hours 6 hours

9 hours


4 hours 8 hours

12 hours

5 5 hours 10 hours

15 hours

*Time may differ depending on the student’s learning style, ability, and previous knowledge

Tips for Taking Online Classes 

Taking online classes is very different from taking courses face-to-face with an instructor on campus. Before committing to online learning, students should consider the following tips for taking online classes. Below are tips for taking online classes. Click on the link to read more about the tips.

  • Treat an online course like a “real” course
  • Hold yourself accountable
  • Practice time management
  • Create a regular study space and stay organized
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Figure out how you learn best
  • Actively participate
  • Leverage your network

Source: Northeastern University. (March 26, 2020). Tips for Taking Online Classes: 8 Strategies for Success [Webpage]. Retrieved from

How to be a Successful Online Student

Taking online courses has many advantages, learning from the comfort of your home, being about to work a full time job and go to school, and working on your own time schedule to name a few.  However, online learning can be a challenge if you do not have specific skills needed to be successful. Having the following skills will assist you in being successful in online learning.  Below are strategies to assist in being a successful online student. Click the link to read more about the strategies.

  • Persistence
  • Effective time-management skills
  • Effective and appropriate communication skills
  • Basic technical skills
  • Reading and writing skills
  • Motivation and independence
  • A good study environment

Source: Minnesota State Careerwise. (n.d). What Makes a Successful Online Learner? [Webpage]. Retrieved from

Attributes of an Online Student

Personal attributes can contribute to the success of online learning.  Taking a course online at home can have many distractions. To be an online learner, a student needs to be self-disciplined, self-motivated and possess good time management.  Below is a list of attributes for online students. Click the link below to read more about the attributes. 

  • Self-motivated
  • Independent learner
  • Computer literate
  • Good time management
  • Effective communicator
  • Personal commitment
  • Academic readiness
  • Technologically prepared

Source: North Carolina’s Official virtual School. (n.d.). Characteristics of a Successful Online Learner [Webpage]. Retrieved from

Technology Requirements for Online Students

Having the correct technology is crucial to being successful with online learning.  Online students will need a computer with a webcam and microphone built in and a reliable internet connection.  

How to Choose a PC or Laptop for Online Learning

SKC Recommendations:


PC that runs Windows 10 8GB of RAM, with built in webcam and microphone.

Mac computer running OSX 10.15 or higher and at least 8GB of RAM, with built in webcam and microphone.

Chromebooks are great for running Google Suite and Internet-Based applications. Chromebooks cannot run Microsoft Office Programs or other software that may be required by a specific program.

Computer Software

Make sure your computer has the latest version of Adobe Flash Player and Java. Some academic programs may require other software, such as Microsoft Office.


There are many different internet browsers that can be used. Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge are a few internet browsers. SKC recommends using Google Chrome. Note that not all browsers are compatible with all LMS systems.

Internet Connection

Internet connection may be available in your area through different providers. Students will want to research internet costs with providers in their area. To be successful with online learning your internet connection should be a minimum of 5Mbps+ Download speed. Higher speeds will provide increased quality of content that is uploaded, such as video conferencing for an online class, and quicker download for course content.   

Mobile devices 

Completing online courses on a mobile device, such as a cell phone, is not recommended. Mobile devices do not have all the capabilities that are needed to be successful in online learning. Likewise, the small screens are not adequate for viewing documents for full screens, nor are they adequate for completing coursework.

Online Learning Readiness

Are you ready to be an online student?  Take our short quiz to see if you are ready for online learning.

Getting Started at SKC

Step 1: Apply to Salish Kootenai College

Step 2: Complete the Online Placement Assessment

Step 3: Set Up Your Digital Accounts

Step 4: Accept Your Financial Aid

Step 5: Online New Student Orientation