Many of the courses you need to complete your degree are offered online.

In many cases, taking online courses offers a non-traditional student the best opportunity to complete his/her education while still working or taking care of a family.

As a non-traditional student, you may be nervous about taking online courses. With a little bit of knowledge about what taking a course online entails, your anxiety may be alleviated. Here’s what to expect from an online course:

Course Quality

Maybe you’ve have heard that online courses provide a lower quality education than face-to-face courses. This is a myth! Online courses offered by Missouri Western cover the same material and are taught by the same instructors as our regular face-to-face courses. You will receive the same quality education through online courses that you would also receive on campus. You will earn a quality, marketable degree from a respected university.

Time Management

You may also have heard that taking an online course is easy or does not require much time or effort. While online courses provide great flexibility in what time of the day you choose to study, many courses are created around a rigorous schedule. Review your course syllabus, and take note of the calendar of assignments, lectures, quizzes and tests. It is not true that assignments can be turned in whenever you want. Assignments must be turned in by the deadlines given. For many people, online courses require more initiative and time management skills than regular face-to-face courses. Many students find it helpful to deliberately schedule time to view lectures and work ahead on assignments whenever possible. It is good practice to access your course every day to keep up with any changes your professor may make.

Course Interaction

There is also a myth that an online course involves just the student and his/her computer. This is not true at Missouri Western. Regardless of the course format, one thing is true: you will be enrolled in a real class, with a real instructor, and other real students. You will be required to interact with your professor and typically with the other students in your course. This interaction will take place as e-mail conversations, phone conversations, forum discussions and group chats.

Course Delivery

Online courses at Missouri Western are offered through a high quality, user-friendly instructional media platform called Canvas.

If you are not familiar with Canvas, a list of tutorials and help videos can be found here.

Computer Requirements

You may be wondering what you need in terms of computer hardware, software and skills. Here are some basic guidelines: you should have access to a computer on a daily basis. This computer should have a current generation browser, a sound card, a current operating system, a video player, an office suite, and a pdf reader. This computer should also have an internet connection with sufficient bandwidth for online courses. You need to know how to attach files to e-mails and download them. You also need to know how to open, edit and save documents.

If you do not currently know the above information, the following information will help. Please use the computer you will be using during your class to run these diagnostic checks:

  • Determine your bandwidth. If your bandwidth is less than 1.5 Mbps, you may have trouble viewing videos associated with your course.
  • Determine whether you have a sound card by listening to this YouTube video. Make sure your volume is turned up and your speakers are on or your headphones are plugged in.
  • Determine what video player you have. For a windows machine, you must have Windows Media Player 11 (12 preferred) or an updated VLC Video Player. For a Mac, you should have the most current version of Flip4Mac or VLC Video Player. Click on the link for the player you wish to download.
  • Determine what browser you are currently using. Internet Explorer 8 (9 or higher preferred), Firefox 4 (5 or higher preferred), Chrome 11 (12 or higher preferred) or Safari 5 (or higher) are recommended. Click on the link for the browser you wish to download.
  • Determine your operating system. Windows XP SP2, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Mac OS X (10.6 or higher) is required. To determine your operating system on a Windows machine, click here. On a Mac, go to the apple in the top left corner of your screen and click “About This Mac.”
  • If you need a pdf reader, download Adobe Acrobat free here.

Technical Difficulties

If you find yourself experiencing technical difficulties, it is important to notify your instructor and/or the Instructional Media Center right away so you do not miss an assignment or fall behind in your class. For example, if you have trouble downloading or viewing a video, you should let the professor and IMC know right away so the problem can be resolved. Or, say you receive an error message after submitting a quiz, you should notify your professor immediately so he/she can check that your quiz was submitted. Your professor and the IMC are ready to help make your online course experience a success!

For more information, please visit the Online and Distance Education website: