Summer 2024 Schedule of Classes and Syllabi are now available! Registration is Open!

Introduction to Online Course Management Systems

Traditional classes are familiar to many: attending lectures, interacting face-to-face with professors and peers, and submitting hard copies of assignments. But how do online courses actually function? Online classes operate through specialized platforms called course management systems. These platforms, hosted on university servers, serve as the bridge between students, professors, and course materials. While each system may have its unique features, they typically encompass tools for class discussions, announcements, assignments, content delivery, communication, assessments, and grading.

Navigating Your Virtual Classroom

Upon entering the virtual classroom, it's essential to become acquainted with the platform's functionalities. Most online course management systems are designed to be intuitive, allowing for easy navigation and interaction with course materials. Take the time to explore the various commands and components available. Whether it's accessing discussion boards, submitting assignments, or checking grades, understanding these features enhances your online learning experience.

Flexibility and Convenience

Embracing Flexibility

One of the primary advantages of online classes is their flexibility. Unlike traditional classes with fixed schedules, online courses offer the freedom to complete coursework at your own pace and convenience. With access to course materials anytime and anywhere, including via mobile devices, you have the flexibility to balance your studies with other commitments.

Leveraging Mobile Accessibility

Most course management systems are compatible with mobile devices, allowing you to stay connected and engaged with your coursework on the go. Whether you're commuting, traveling, or simply prefer mobile access, this flexibility empowers you to manage your education efficiently.

Engaging in Online Learning

Diverse Engagement Methods

Online classes encompass a variety of engagement methods, ranging from written discussions to multimedia presentations. Each course may adopt different approaches to foster student participation and collaboration. Regardless of the format, embrace these diverse engagement methods as opportunities to enhance your skills and knowledge. Whether it's contributing to discussion threads or delivering video presentations, active participation enriches your learning experience.

Academic Rigor and Self-Discipline

Dispelling the notion of online classes being easier, they demand the same level of academic rigor as traditional courses. In fact, the absence of scheduled class times requires a higher degree of self-discipline and focus. Maintain a proactive approach to your studies, avoiding procrastination and staying committed to deadlines. By upholding high standards and dedicating yourself to learning, you'll achieve academic success in online courses.

Considering Online Education

If you're considering enrolling in online classes or seeking guidance on their suitability for your educational goals, reach out to academic advisors. They can provide valuable insights and support to navigate the online learning landscape effectively. Contact our advisors at 972.694.4162 or online at to explore online education opportunities and embark on your educational journey with confidence.
As college educators, we know that teaching adults is vastly different from teaching children due to several key factors. It's important to recognize and address these differences so that we can effectively teach in the college classrooms of today. Doing so will help us to better engage and retain our students, but more importantly, enable us to maximize student success and help them reach their academic goals.   One of the first things we need to understand is that adult learners bring life experience to the classroom. Even more so at the graduate level, adults come to the table with a wealth of life experiences, prior knowledge, and skills. They have a more extensive knowledge base to build upon compared to children. Effective adult education acknowledges and respects this existing knowledge and should try to leverage it in the classroom to create rich learning experiences. Also, adult learners are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, meaning they want to learn for personal satisfaction and growth, which is in contrast to children who are primarily motivated by external rewards. Adults often choose to learn or seek a degree because they see a direct benefit or relevance to their lives, careers, or their interests. In contrast, children may not always grasp the immediate practicality of what they are learning. Therefore, assignments and projects that make a real-world connection really help to draw them into the learning experience (Baumgartner & Merriam, 2020). Another key aspect of adult motivation to learn is self-directedness. Mature learners are more likely to take ownership of their learning process, set their goals, and decide how to achieve them. This autonomy should be encouraged and supported in your course design and assignment selection. Consider giving them options and customizing assignments based on career-related projects or work in the community. Active learning solutions tend to be very well-received in this regard.   Adult learners are quite diverse and have distinct learning preferences, needs, and backgrounds. College educators should provide a variety of learning opportunities to accommodate a diverse range of preferences while also recognizing differing cultural backgrounds. A very important point to consider about adult learners are the unique challenges they face outside of the classroom in pursuit of their degree. They often have busy lives with work, family, and other responsibilities and this necessitates that we, as instructors, engage them with empathy, compassion, and flexibility, recognizing that they may need to balance their studies with other commitments. Since students have a wide range of choices in higher ed’s competitive marketplace, by engaging them in this way we can increase retention and persistence.   Consider your course design and content. Are your materials and content relevant and up to date? Mature students are more likely to engage when they see the immediate relevance of what they are learning. As mentioned previously, since our students often bring personal experience to the classroom, good instruction can build upon this knowledge and encourage peer-to-peer learning and collaboration (King, 2017). Also, students appreciate constructive, specific feedback and assessments that help them to gauge their progress and show where improvement is needed. Timely feedback is also crucial because it allows learners to make adjustments before the next assignment, increases efficacy, and builds confidence and motivation. When students do not receive both specific or timely feedback, they begin psychologically disengaging from the course and feel helpless, which leads to dropped courses and even transfers to other institutions. Lastly, in most cases, it’s best to avoid hiding future week’s content, rather allow students to see all of the material and assignments so that they can plan how they will approach their studies and balance it with outside obligations. Doing so both reduces anxiety and supports student autonomy.   The differences between teaching adults and children necessitate a unique approach to higher education. As instructors, we should recognize and respect the diverse backgrounds, motivations, and learning preferences of our students and allow that to inform how we teach. Ultimately, this student-centered approach creates a learning environment that fosters student success, confidence, and critical thinking, which ultimately helps them achieve their personal and professional goals.