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The Charter College Online Learning Guide

Everybody’s doing it. While that may not be entirely true, in the wake of the pandemic, more people than ever before learned a little about online learning. And what many of them discovered is that it’s not so scary after all. Online learning provides you with opportunity, convenience, and flexibility. So whether you want to jump into a brand-new career or learn skills that will help you do your current job better, it’s time to check out what millions of people are already doing.


There are many advantages to learning online. Top of the list are convenience and flexibility. You get to study when you want from wherever you are. But if you’re not tech savvy, you might think it’s just not for you. And if you’ve never taken an online course at all, you probably have no idea what you’re in for. It’s time you found out.

Basic Technology for Online Learning

You’ll need a reliable computer and consistent access to high-speed internet. If you’re not a tech wizard, don’t worry. Today’s online courses come with IT support. That means before you enroll, you can make certain that you have the technology you’ll need to ensure compatibility with the online classroom software. And once you’re part of the online classroom, tech help is still available to keep things running smoothly.

Security Measures for eLearning
You’ll undergo student identity verification and be given your own unique id and password to access student email, your course, and all the materials you’ll need to find success. Once enrolled, you’ll need to sign into the course during the first week of classes to be officially “in.” Then, you can choose a new password and customize your page and preferences.

Attendance in the Online Classroom
Just like on-campus programs, if you expect to pass, you need to attend class. Your attendance in online programs will be based on your participation and graded activities. While you might be tempted to skip class, don’t. You’re paying to be there. Why would you throw good money away? And you’re there to learn. You can’t learn if you’re not there.

Online Instruction
Lectures, discussions, assignments, projects, quizzes, and tests all take place online. You will be required to post to a discussion board or upload your assignment through the classroom portal. And although you might have access to a lecture at any time, you’ll still have due dates for assignments so make sure you sync your personal calendar with the course syllabus.

Online Resources
You’ll have access to a variety of online resources like a virtual library with electronic books and research databases. There are often virtual events you can attend like online computer skills training or guest lectures, and information about on-campus events you may want to attend. There are also resources for student success and career opportunities once you graduate.

Real People Behind Online Learning
The most important aspect to remember about your online program is that there are REAL people behind it. That means you can connect with your instructor when you have questions or concerns. It means you can also get to know your fellow classmates in—and out—of your virtual classroom.

What Are the Big Differences Between Online and On-Campus Classes?

You’ve taken face-to-face classes plenty of times before. There’s a teacher, a classroom, classmates sitting by your side. You’re all together in the same room, at the same time. What happens when you take some of that sameness away?

Asynchronous means your leaning doesn’t happen at the same time. It can take place at anytime, anywhere. There is no set time and date for classes to occur, which is what makes online classes so convenient. You will still have to follow deadlines for your assignments and complete tests within a certain time frame. But you have the luxury of completing classes on a schedule that best fits yours.

You need basic computer literacy to take a course using your computer or tablet. You may be taught specific software during your program, but you need to start with an understanding of computers, keyboard functionality, email, and word processing. It’s okay that you don’t know how every piece of software works, but a willingness to learn is essential.

At home, there are a lot of distractions. You may have kids or pets that constantly demand your attention. You may be easily distracted by apps on your phone, pings from social media, or the fuzzy background noise of a constantly-on television. That’s why you’ll need to be self-disciplined to take online courses. It can be tough to focus with everything that happens around you. A good way to combat distractions is to set a schedule for yourself and stick to it. Build yourself an online study space that lets you— and your brain— know that this is where you do school work. Maybe it’s one room in the house, or just a corner of your bedroom. Wherever works for you, keep the space simple and distraction-free. And when you sit down to work, get some work done.

Listening and speaking are important communication tools for in-person classes. But as an online student, you need to communicate mostly through the written word. Reading and writing aren’t just how you’ll complete assignment; they’re also how you’ll communicate with your peers and instructors. Whether through email, chat, or through discussion forums, you need to be able to get your point across with accurate, concise, and respectful writing. And you’ll need to thoroughly read what others have written to get the point.

In an online class, your instructor doesn’t stand at the front of the classroom and lecture to a group of students. He or she can’t see from what you’re doing or the expression on your face whether or not you get it. What they can do, though, is serve as a class facilitator. That means they may prompt you with questions or engage other students in discussions to have them answer your question. Consider your teacher as a bridge between you and the knowledge you need for a new career. Are you ready to cross over?

How to Succeed in the Online Classroom

Now that you understand what online learning is all about, how will you succeed in this new environment? Before you begin, let the people in your life know you’re going to college. It may be virtual, but it’s very real. Encouragement from your family and friends can help keep you focused. Once you enroll, commit to learn and embrace the technology.

Get to Know Your Online Learning Platform

When you take an online program, you’ll spend a lot of time using the software where all your courses will live. Even if you’ve never heard of Canvas or Blackboard or any of the other learning management systems out there, you’ll come to find that they’re pretty easy to use. They allow for flexible learning that’s interactive and personal. And while your platform might be different from another school’s, they all have some common components. These platforms tend to be easy to learn, navigate, and understand. Be sure to attend your school’s online orientation and in the meantime, here’s what to look for in your online learning platform:

Virtual Classrooms

Virtual classrooms are pretty cool. Imagine a cyber version of a traditional classroom, only with students and teachers represented as avatars who communicate through interactive voice recordings. On most platforms, you can watch lectures from your living room, talk to classmates through Skype, and review resources repeatedly once the content has been uploaded. In an online environment, virtual classrooms allow you to take advantage of traditional course methods, but in a way and at times that are convenient to you.

Asynchronous Classrooms

It’s a mouthful to say out loud, but asynchronous (A-SINK-CROW-NUSS) classrooms are similar to virtual classrooms in that they offer digital interactions, but they put the learning more in the hands of the student. For example, an instructor may ask a question in an online forum and give you a week to respond. This is more of a hands-off approach, but it allows for more flexibility to respond at your own pace.

Customizable Dashboard

Digital dashboards are all about accessibility. And you can use them to your advantage: submit assignments, post to forums, manage folders of class materials, keep up on schedules and events, check grades, review syllabi, and update your profile. You can also manage multiple classes to keep yourself organized. If online programs make learning easy, customizable dashboards put learning at your fingertips.

Adaptable to Mobile

Today, lots of your daily activities are probably conducted on mobile devices. This is a good thing when it comes to online learning. Programs are convenient because you can set up in a coffee shop or library and take your class; later, you can submit your paper or assignment. But mobile learning gives you much more. You don’t need to be tied to a WIFI connection in order to do work. You can put the finishing touches on a project when you ride the bus or pick up the kids. A good program will have an interface that’s as easy to use on a laptop or desktop as it is on a tablet or smartphone.

Popular Online Learning Tools

Your school’s learning management system isn’t the only way to embrace technology for your virtual classes. There are online learning tools that can help you organize your classes and even your life. Your instructors can make suggestions on what software might work best for a particular course, but there are plenty you can check out on your own.

Online Note Takers

Apps like EverNote or OneNote let you take notes. They can also help you organize them and add to them with features that enable you to draw or write, clip web pages, and add attachments. If you prefer to talk your notes out, there’s even dictation software like Dictation Dragon. There’s no excuse not to have the notes you need when you need them!

Collaboration and Communication Tools

Maybe you need to work with a partner or group on an assignment. You can use software like Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business to send instant messages to each other, set up video conference calls, share presentations, and more.

Citation Builders

Do you ever have to do research papers? One of the most dreaded parts of the project is often the bibliography. But now there are online websites, like Easy Bib or Cite This For Me, that can do the hard work for you. With a quick search for the article or book or site you want to cite, you can create the citation in less than a minute. Go one step further and download the apps, which generate a citation when you scan a book’s barcode.

eBooks at Library

Get to the library. The digital library, that is. You can visit the Digital Public Library of America to search eBooks, videos, images, and even sounds. You can also visit the website of your local library. Most public libraries now let you obtain a card and checkout items online. And your school probably has its own virtual library with 24/7 access.


Technology is a great tool to help you study, but it can also distract you from your work. To stay focused, follow these tips:

Turn Off Push Notifications

Can you resist the temptation to click on push notifications? Probably not. Once you click, you fall down the rabbit hole into the world of social media and other online distractions. Only leave notifications turned on for apps that may be important such as email or a calendar that can remind you of deadlines.

Block Your Own Access

Did you know you can block access to sites that distract you? Block Site and StayFocusd are two types of Google Chrome extensions that allow you to create a list of sites that will distract you. If you try to access them during study time, a screen will pop up that reminds you to study.

Change Your Status to “Away” When you don’t need to use group chat and collaboration apps, change your status to “away” to let your friends know you’re in study mode. You can also let them know the hours you’re offline for fun so they can contact you when you’re ready to take a break.

Silence Your Phone
Your phone can be a distraction so put it on silent while you study. Find a quiet place to work, away from TVs, video games, or anything else that might distract you.

What Makes a Great Online Program?


Make certain the school where you take your online program is accredited. Accrediting boards set standards for institutions to ensure that students are well-served to get an education that will prepare them for the field they intend to enter.

Charter College is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

Great Instructors

What you learn is really important. But so is the person who’s teaching you! Look for these traits and skills in your online instructor:

Someone who is going to train you in your new career needs to know all the ins and outs of the profession. They need hands-on experience; the more the better. It’s good if they can teach you principles and theories, but it’s great when they can give real world examples from their own careers.

Whether your online instructor is teaching IT or Business, they need to be good with computers. More importantly, they need to know all about the online tools that your program requires. After all, if they haven’t mastered the platforms and portals from which they teach, how can they possibly help you succeed in your program?

Have you ever met someone who really loves their job? Even if they’re not teachers, they probably can’t wait to share what they do with you. That kind of passion for the profession is a great trait for a great teacher. They don’t just want to share what they know. They also want to find people who will be good candidates for a career they love. And they want to help those new professionals succeed!

Just because your program is online doesn’t mean you only deal with computers. A good online instructor will make themselves available to answer your questions and offer guidance and assistance. Whether it’s through your course portal or email, they’re there to help. They’ll also be a facilitator who brings you and your coursemates together through online discussions and group projects.

Your learning style will probably be different from other people in the course. It may even be different from your instructor. But no matter how you learn, a good teacher will find a way to patiently show you the way. Whether you’re having trouble with course content, or just an issue with your technology, a great teacher will calmly help you overcome the obstacles that might get in your way.

Why do people forget that online courses are run and taken by actual people? A good online teacher will remember that your program is not the only thing happening in your life. They’ll insist you meet your deadlines and get your work done, but they’ll acknowledge if you stumble and help you get back on track. They’re people who work with machines, not machines themselves!

Are You Ready to Be an Online Learner?

Charter College offers online programs in Business, Health Care, Information Technology, and Applied Technology. We also have blended learning programs that let you learn hands-on skills on campus and lecture materials online. Are you ready for a better future? Start with an education online.