Online and Distance Education

Frequently Asked Questions

What is distance education at Missouri Western State University?
Distance education courses offer an opportunity to expand your education at a time and place that conforms to your schedule and environment. By taking distance education courses, you can learn and complete your course assignments from anywhere there is an Internet connection and generally at anytime.
What is an online class?

Course materials, assignments, and communications with the instructor and other classmates are available through a course web site, which you can access through an Internet Service Provider. Courses designed for the Internet usually involve:

  • Reading assignments and textbooks
  • Writing papers
  • Submitting assignments via e-mail
  • Online discussion with classmates and the instructor
  • Group activities
  • Online exams

Streamed audio and/or video lecture materials may also be included in an online course. Some instructors may require or make it optional for students taking an online course to come to MWSU and attend a class session and/or view additional supplemental materials.

Are online classes self-paced?
Missouri Western's online classes are not self-paced. Each course has a beginning and ending date, and instructors have deadlines for assigned homework, reading, and online discussions. Instructors will provide specific instructions for submitting assignments either through the course web site, e-mail, regular mail, or fax.
How do I know if taking an online or televised class is right for me?
Please read "What to expect with your distance education course" which will provide valuable information regaring whether or not distance education courses are right for you.
What equipment and skills are needed to take an online class?
You are required to have access to a computer with an Internet connection when enrolling for online courses as well as a web cam for proctoring. You may come to campus and use one of the computers in the MWSU computer labs if it is convenient. For locations of the computer labs on campus, please visit Academic Computing Services. You must know how to operate a computer, download and upload files, search for information using a web browser, have an active MWSU e-mail account, send documents as attachments, and know how to use an e-mail listserv.
What resources are available online from Missouri Western's library?
Many library resources are online and available to all enrolled students at Missouri Western. Currently, there are over 70 electronic databases that are available online. For more information on what our library has to offer, please visit the library website.
By using the computer, how will I communicate with my instructor and other class members?
You will access the course web site, online message boards, e-mail listserv, and the instructor's e-mail address to stay informed regarding assignments, syllabus changes, exam dates, and to communicate with other classmates online. Your instructor will most likely give you instructions on how to communicate and find course announcements. Most instructors will require students to submit their homework assignments through the course web site or via e-mail. Instructors usually try to respond to your e-mail questions in 24 - 48 hours.
Do I need a Missouri Western user ID and password to access the Internet and the library's online resources from campus computers?
To log on to any computer workstation on campus, you must have a user ID and password, which you may obtain from Information Technology Services. Your user ID and password are the same ID and password you use to check your Missouri Western e-mail account. You must use your Missouri Western user ID and password to access our library's online resources which includes over 70 electronic databases. For more information, please contact Information Technology Services at (816) 271-4555 or visit their website at Information Technology website.
Do I have to use my Missouri Western e-mail account?
It is highly recommended that you use your Missouri Western e-mail account, but it is not required at this time. All official information (mid-term grades, access codes, etc.) the university sends out to you, by electronic means, goes only to your Missouri Western e-mail account. Some instructors will only communicate with students through their Missouri Western e-mail accounts as well.
If I have difficulty with assignments, whom do I contact?

If you have difficulty with your assignments, you should first contact your instructor for help. The Center for Academic Support may also provide assistance with your assignments.

You should always start your assignments early in case a problem or questions arise. This will give you enough time to e-mail your instructor or contact the Center for Academic Support for assistance. Online courses are dependent upon web servers to be up and running at all times. However, web server and/or computers may be down unexpectedly and therefore, you may not be able to connect to the course web site to work on your assignments in such instances. It is always important to work ahead.

What happens if I cannot connect to the Internet?

You should do the following:

  1. Contact your Internet Service Provider to see whether the problem is theirs or not.
  2. If it is not a problem with your Internet Service Provider, then you should contact the Information Technology Office Help Desk at (816) 271-4555 for assistance. The Information Technology Office will also be able to tell you if there are any problems with the course web site.
  3. If you are unable to solve the problem with the Information Technology Office, or if the problem will take more time to solve, contact your instructor. Inform the instructor of your situation, and make arrangements to complete your work in another way. It is usually best to find another computer that you can use to complete the work (i.e. at a friend's house, work, the library).
What do I do if I cannot access my Moodle course?
If you cannot get the Moodle login page to open, or if it is telling you that you have an incorrect user ID or password, contact the Information Technology Office Help Desk at (816) 271-4555. For all other Moodle technical questions, you may send an e-mail to or contact the Instructional Media Center at (816) 271-4185.
What if I need assistance with my computer skills?
You can come to the Center for Academic Support on campus to find out how to use some of the basic computer software programs. If you cannot come to campus, then you may visit the Center for Academic Support website to learn more information on how to submit your questions or assignments. There are many great tutorials and free courses available on the Internet to help you with your computer skills.
How do I get help learning to use Moodle?
There are many resources available to help you learn to use Moodle. They can be found at Moodle Help website. If you are not able to get your questions answered from these resources, please e-mail or call (816) 271-4185.
What do I do if I experience non-technical computer problems during my online course?
You need to first contact your instructor for non-technical questions. The instructor will help you resolve the problem or help you contact the person who can.
How can I take instructor and course evaluations online?
Before taking any instructor or course evaluations, wait until you are asked to do so by your instructor. Your instructor will tell you when evaluations are available. Please make sure you complete the evaluations because your feedback helps us to continually improve the distance education program at Missouri Western. Instructor and course evaluations will be available toward the end of each semester.
If I have a disability, what should I do to prepare for a distance education course?
It is your responsibility to notify the instructor of any disability you may have that may require special accommodation in the distance education course. Missouri Western offers a range of services to allow students with disabilities to participate in distance education courses. If you are in need of assistance, you should first contact Missouri Western's Special Needs Office at (816) 271-4330 or visit Accessibility Resource Center website.
What should I expect with my distance education course?
Distance education classes are a great way for you to continue your education if your busy work or personal life makes it difficult for you to attend classes on campus. Distance education classes require more time and responsibility on your part than on campus courses.

You should dedicate 8-12 hours a week to your course.
Distance education courses typically have more activities, assignments, and readings than face-to-face courses. To be successful in a distance course, you need to be able to set aside a minimum of 8-12 hours per week to devote solely to completing your course work (your courses may require more or less time than this). If you do not have approximately 10 hours a week to devote to your course, you may want to wait before taking a distance education course.

You should have a computer and Internet access at home.
A computer and Internet access are required if you are taking an online course, and they are highly recommended for most teleclasses. It is important that you are able to use the computer to complete your work uninterrupted. If this is not possible at home, you may wish to consider using a computer at work, the library, or at a friend’s house.

You should be able to come to campus to take an exam or lab if given the dates and times in advance.
Some courses require you to come to campus to take exams or participate in labs. If you cannot make it to campus during the semester, you may want to contact the Western Institute or the instructors of the courses you are interested in to find out if the course requires any on-campus meetings.

You should be self-motivated and willing to take responsibility for your own learning.
Taking a distance course means that you will be completing most of the work on your own. You will not have regular meetings with the instructor or classmates to remind you of when assignments are due. You must be able to self-motivated to complete your work on time and to the best of your ability if you want to be successful. Just as in a face-to-face course, your success will be determined by the amount of effort you put forth. Remember, technology is not perfect, so it is always best to be prepared for anything by keeping on schedule and keeping backups of important work.

You should be self-disciplined and good at budgeting your time in order to complete assignments before their due dates.
Many face-to-face courses have small assignments lasting a couple of days. On the contrary, most distance courses have assignments that may last anywhere from a week to several weeks. It is important that you create a work plan for yourself in order to complete your assignments on time. You cannot wait until the day before an assignment is due to begin work. If you procrastinate, you will quickly find yourself behind in the course and becoming frustrated. If you need help developing good study skills or need tutoring support, the Center for Academic Support would be happy to help you.

You should be confident in your writing and typing skills.
Distance courses, especially online courses, typically require a substantial amount of writing and typing. Most Missouri Western instructors use Microsoft Word or another compatible word processing program, so you need to be able to use one to complete assignments.

There will be a lot of reading involved.
Distance courses typically require much more reading than face-to-face courses. Because you do not meet face-to-face with the instructor, most of your learning will come from reading and completing activities on your own.

You will be able to work at your own pace.
While a distance course is not an independent study course, you will be required to work on your own and at your own pace. This means that you will need to plan your time carefully in order to stay on top of your assignments and do well in the course. It is usually best to set aside a specific study time each day. If you prefer to work in the early morning or late at night, you can as long as you plan your time wisely in order to complete your work. If you need to work from home due to other work or personal commitments that keep you from attending classes on campus, distance education may be perfect for you.

Be aware that distance courses usually require more time and work on your part than traditional face-to-face courses.
A common misconception is that distance education courses are easier or are considered independent study courses. Neither of these is true. Often times distance courses are more difficult and require more of your time than face-to-face courses. They are also not independent study courses because there are set deadlines and participation requirements that you must keep up with throughout the course.

You will be able to engage in discussions with the instructor and other classmates.
Distance courses rely heavily on communication between the instructors and students. Many online courses require you to post comments and answer questions on a discussion board. Many students and instructors have even said that there is more discussion in distance courses than in face-to-face courses. If this is important to you, you may wish to contact the instructor to find out about the amount of discussion in the distance course.