How does an online course work at UNE Online?

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What does it look like to take an online course?

An online course has the same learning objectives as a traditional course but is presented online through technology. At UNE Online, courses are developed by pairing a Subject Matter Expert with an Instructional Designer to develop learning experiences that are efficient, pedagogically sound, and appealing.

Using a typical public health course as an example, this post discusses the ‘who, what, where, when, & how’ of taking a class online at the University of New England. We’ll take a look at how this sample online public health course is structured, what’s expected of you, what resources are available to you, and more.

1. Course outline: the syllabus

The majority of online public health courses are eight weeks long and broken out into eight modules. There are a couple of courses that have the modules broken out by content, but most courses divide out the course by week. During orientation you’ll get a course syllabus which is your roadmap for what to expect, and when for your particular course.

2. Absorbing the content

Depending on the course, you’ll have a textbook, and you’ll be provided with other resources, both required and supplemental, to read. Each week, you’re required to read a certain number of chapters, and a specified amount of supplemental materials.

For example, in one week of your course you could be required to read:

  • Five chapters from the textbook
  • One article linked within your Blackboard account

Supplemental reading for that week could include:

  • One business case
  • Two articles
  • Review of three official policies
  • Review of 13 websites

Each week there is also an online lecture given by the course instructor, facilitator, or guest lecturer, depending on the week and the class schedule.

3. Interacting with your classmates – the discussion board

Each week you’re expected to log into the forum on Blackboard Learn and interact with the other students in the class. On Sunday, the first day of the class week, you need to log into Blackboard and contribute your initial post to the forum. Your post will always relate directly to what you are learning in that week’s module. So you make your initial post, on topic, and you log out. By Wednesday, you must log back in and respond to at least two classmates’ posts.

Don’t worry if you feel that you have nothing to contribute at first. Opinions are wide, and the topics are broad in many cases, leaving the topic open to broad interpretation. The point is to have meaningful, on-topic, dialogue.

Think of the forum as a sort of Facebook timeline. Your “Facebook Status” is like your initial post that you publish on Sundays. And other students in the class leave “comments” on your post.

4. The concurrent project

Over the course of the class, as you’re keeping up with your reading and thoughtfully contributing to your class’ discussion forum, there’s a project to think about. The project generally takes the form of a paper, around five pages single-spaced, in length. The purpose of the project is to demonstrate your knowledge that you’ve gained through your reading and demonstrate the depth of understanding of the material.

The project requires a deeper understanding than simply regurgitating facts. You will be asked to compare and reflect on different points of view on the topic at hand. You’re evaluated on depth and breadth of scope of your writing, as well as the quality of your writing. Spelling counts! The project assignment is generally submitted halfway through the class.

5. Additional assignments

In some classes there are also additional assignments required to be turned in at specific points throughout the course, to make sure you are achieving your learning objectives.

6. Final exam

The final exam is generally a short paper, roughly six single-spaced pages. Final exam questions are often published two weeks before the end of class and are often open-book. You’re given a series of questions to answer in a clear and thorough, yet succinct manner, and you’re evaluated on how well you have assimilated the course materials, the amount of original thought you demonstrate while answering the topic questions, and on the quality of your writing.

One size does not fit all

Obviously, your class may (and probably will) look different than the outline above. My intent here is to give you a sense of what to expect in general. The syllabus is your guide through the course particulars and will spell out your obligations and requirements for completing the class successfully.

Making the first step

Taking an online Master’s level or Post-Master’s level course is not a commitment to be taken lightly. But this is the material that you’re passionate about. This is what you love to do. This is your chance to take a deep dive into your area of expertise and nerd out with other experts in your field. You can bounce ideas and theories off of other students and instructors in a safe and supportive environment.  And just as exciting, the things you learn in class often times are immediately applicable to your work in real life.

It’s hard work. But as Einstein said, “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work.”

 

Get in touch with an enrollment counselor at owladmissions@une.edu or call 1(855)325-0896 if you’d like to connect about getting enrolled next semester, or if you have additional questions about how an online course works. We are happy to walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. 

Or, fill out an online application now at go.une.edu/apply. We look forward to hearing from you!

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