Frequently Asked Questions
I’ve never taken an online course. How does it work?
Our online courses are developed and offered completely through the Internet in an asynchronous format using a learning management system called Sakai. This asynchronous format means that you can enjoy the flexibility of accessing your courses seven days a week, 24 hours a day, including holidays. Your online courses will have assignment due dates and exams just like face-to-face courses.
How do online courses compare to face-to-face courses?
Both types of courses have dedicated instructors who meet APU’s requirements for academic excellence and Christian commitment. Through discussion forums, email, and other forms of communication, online instructors teach, mentor, advise, and interact with you as they would in a classroom on campus. Online classroom discussions happen in asynchronous forums instead of in a live classroom. You’ll have assignments in both types of courses, but in online courses, you will submit your completed work electronically. If you have an exam in an online course, you will take it online.
How do I participate in online classes?
Fully online courses feature several methods for interacting with your instructors and fellow classmates. Depending on the course, those methods can include asynchronous discussion forums, blogs, multimedia presentations, video conferencing, email, and in some instances group projects.
How can I know if online courses are right for me?
If you are comfortable working independently, have good organizational skills, and are self-motivated, you may find online learning to be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Online learning is not for everyone; therefore, we encourage you to use the checklist below to help you understand if the online format is right for you.
- You have a computer with a high speed Internet connection.
- You spend a lot of time on your computer surfing the Internet and using email.
- You enjoy reading and have good reading skills.
- You have good writing skills and can effectively communicate your ideas in writing.
- You enjoy online videos or other multimedia (streaming radio, podcasts, etc.).
- You are comfortable getting information from the Internet.
- You are comfortable communicating through email instead of face-to-face.
- You would rather have written directions than oral.
- You prefer learning through reading rather than “hands on” training.
- You are self-motivated to study even without a traditional class schedule.
If you said “yes” to each item above, you are ready to take an online course.
How much time do online courses take?
Online learning is not easier than learning in a face-to-face classroom. Both types of courses pass through our rigorous academic governance process. For online and face-to-face courses, a standard rule of thumb is 3 hours of homework time for every hour of class time; therefore, for a three-credit course, plan on spending at least nine hours per week on homework. The difference with online is that, instead of spending your time in traffic and looking for parking, you can spend that time progressing in your schoolwork.
Do I need special equipment or software to be an online student?
You will need access to a computer with an Internet connection. The course platform is Sakai, and it operates within your browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Some courses require additional software. For example, Microsoft Word is required in some courses to complete certain assignments. You may also need to download and install certain plug-ins or other free software (Adobe Acrobat, for example).
Do I need special technical skills to access online courses?
We recommend that students have a strong comfort level using the computer and navigating the Internet. Common skills when taking an online course include using email, attaching files, and downloading files from the Internet.
What type of support is available for online learners?
View our wide range of support services for online learners.