Online and Distance Learning

How Does Online Learning Work?

Online learning removes the traditional boundaries of time and location to offer you the flexibility not often found in other academic situations. You are not required to be in a physical classroom and can set your own pace and choose the most convenient time and place to study.

Classes designated as online are delivered to students worldwide via the Internet and require that student have access to an adequately equipped desktop computer or laptop. DSL or higher internet connectivity is preferred and is required in several programs.

Online via RamCT Blackboard

Colorado State uses a secure software platform called RamCT Blackboard as its online learning platform for most courses. RamCT Blackboard provides user-friendly access to course materials, discussion groups, assignments, exams, and other learner services. Many courses provide streaming videos of lectures recorded from on-campus programs.

What do online courses look like?

When you log in to RamCT Blackboard, you will see a page with your courses listed – just click on any course, and you're in it. Learn more about RamCT Blackboard requirements and logging in »

Every course is different, but you often see a welcome page which gives you directions on how the course works and where to start. Your instructor will also have a syllabus available to assist you with beginning your course. You should click on the course links in the left-hand column and familiarize yourself with the course information. To get a better idea of what online courses look like, visit the RamCT Blackboard orientation course.

How do online courses work?

Most online classes operate on a weekly schedule rather than a daily one. In addition to lesson plans and readings, a weekly deadline is typical and may include assignments, exams, or participation in discussions, case studies, and other learning activities.

Discussions are critically important! Since you don't see your instructor and fellow students, you should use the discussion board often. Contributing your thoughts and experiences makes the course much more interesting and valuable for both you and your classmates, and most courses require you to interact frequently. In online courses, there's no way to sit in back of the room and avoid speaking up — you must be present and active.

Is online learning right for me?

Learning online works for many people, but it is often a new experience and takes some getting used to. To succeed as an online student, you have to be reasonably independent, motivated, and able to manage your time well. You will not attend lectures in a classroom, so you assume more responsibility to read, communicate online, write papers, submit assignments according to deadlines, and balance your coursework with your personal and professional life. You will have a much more active role in managing your online learning experience than you would in a classroom.

Online via Outreach Partners

CSU OnlinePlus offers a small number of online credit and noncredit courses through outreach partners who may deliver courses using different online platforms.

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.