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Choosing Online Learning

Choosing Online Learning

There are many reasons you might choose online or blended courses at Pacific Lutheran University.  Online summer courses provide a PLU learning experience at a distance, and many options meet general education requirements. Online undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education courses provide more flexibility for scheduling. In a blended course, students have increased control over the time, place, pace, and path to achieving learning objectives. Although the style of each blended course may vary, hallmarks of blended instruction often include increased collaboration with peers, one-on-one and small group interaction with instructors, and online activities that deepen and extend student learning.

Whether you are taking blended or online courses, academic or continuing education, you can expect the same quality of content and care that has defined PLU since 1890.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a blended course like at PLU?

Blended courses utilize face-to-face and online learning options in a carefully designed mix of both. The specific format of each blended course will depend on the learning objectives and style of the instructor. Typically, a blended course includes significant online instruction and activities; face-to-face meetings may be reduced to ensure the total workload still equals a traditional course. A blended course’s onsite meeting schedule is determined in advance by each individual instructor. Blended courses may be offered during any academic term.  

What is an online course like at PLU?

In an online course, all instructional activities are completed through web-based interactions, with no face-to-face meetings occurring on campus. Online courses achieve the same learning objectives as traditional courses, but include instructional activities tailored to be most effective in the online environment. Online courses may include online lessons, recorded lectures, assigned reading, online discussion, group and independent activities, web conferences, and technology-enabled projects. Online courses may be offered during summer terms or during j-term.

What skills and technology are necessary for online or blended learning?

Online and blended learning requires students to work somewhat independently. Organization and time management are skills that help students to succeed in blended and online courses. Students should be able to use Google applications and the Sakai Learning Management System to complete course work. Online and blended courses require students to have reliable access to a computer and high-speed Internet connection. Speakers or headphones along with a microphone or webcam are usually recommended. Any specialized software or equipment required by the instructors will be communicated in advance.

Which courses are offered in an online or blended format?

Individual instructors and/or programs decide whether to teach online or blended courses. Blended and online courses are noted in Banner with a BL or OL designation for the instructional method. A current listing of online and blended course offering are displayed on the Learning Online homepage.

What is the benefit of an online course from PLU compared to a community college?

When taking an online course from PLU, students maintain their connection to the PLU community.  Online courses adhere to the same standards as traditional PLU courses and instructors are members of the PLU faculty. Plus, there are no extra worries about transferring credits or meeting PLU degree requirements. Undergraduate online courses at PLU for summer 2017 are offered at a reduced rate of $390/credit hour in order to be more competitive with community colleges and state colleges. 

Are online classes right for me?

Still not sure if online learning is the right choice for you?  Here are some things you may want to consider in making your decision:

  • How comfortable are you using computers, email, and the Internet?
  • Do you have reliable access to a computer with a high-speed connection?
  • Are you self-motivated person and capable of working independently?
  • Can you keep yourself on track to complete assignments on time?
  • Do you enjoy listening to podcasts, exploring web content, and watching videos ?
  • Are you comfortable using email and online discussion forums to communicate with instructors and classmates?
  • Are you able to spend as much time and effort learning online as you would participating in a traditional course?
  • Are you comfortable using online learning resources and reaching out to your instructor or PLU support staff when you need help?