How Does Online Learning Work?

CSU online courses are housed within a learning-management system or on web sites with instructors delivering content to you through a variety of media including video, text, assessments, projects and discussion forums.

Online Learning at Colorado State University

Canvas, CSU's learning platform, creates an intuitive, easy-to-use environment that empowers you to meet learning outcomes in every course. Within Canvas, you can expect the following types of resources and assignments:

  • Recorded lectures from live, on-campus sessions for the same course you are taking
  • Instructor lecture video recordings from their office or in the field
  • Real-time (also known as synchronous) sessions where you get to speak with the instructor and/or fellow students via a webcam and microphone
  • Videos from online sources
  • Podcast recordings of the instructor or other narrated presentations
  • Audio recordings from online sources
  • Peer-reviewed research, articles, and journals
  • Blog posts
  • Textbooks
  • Articles from online sources
  • Discussion forums
  • Tests and quizzes
  • Projects completed individually or as part of a team
  • Written, video or audio assignments
  • Proctoring tools
    • Instructors often use proctoring to ensure the academic integrity of course assessments

Learning in any environment requires a certain level of independence, motivation, and time management. Our online format allows you to balance coursework alongside your personal and professional life. Across a broad range of disciplines, we have seen students from diverse backgrounds, age groups, and levels of technological skill succeed while learning online.

Here are some questions to help you assess if an online program is a good fit for your needs.

Technology Requirements

The basic technology requirements for our courses are minimal. Access to the Internet (desktop or laptop computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) and possibly a webcam (microphone usually included) are the most typical. Some courses may require additional software to complete assignments and collaborate with classmates, all of which will all be available online or within the course.

Who You Learn From

CSU's online courses are taught by the same faculty and instructors who teach on-campus students. All of our instructors bring foundational knowledge, as well as their personal experience and perspective, into their online courses. Because of this, our online programs come with the same challenges, expectations, and reputation as on-campus programs, which is why you earn the same degree as your on-campus peers after completing the degree requirements.

Online Learning Blended with Classroom Instruction

Some programs combine online learning with classroom instruction. Course instruction is provided to students through the online delivery methods described above, as well as in the classroom with other students and the instructors. The amount of time that students are required to be in a physical classroom varies, so it is important to check each program or course webpage for detailed information.