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Online Student FAQ

Here you’ll find answers to common questions regarding OTC online courses.

Why take an online course?

Online courses work well for students who are self-directed and have good organizational skills. Most students find online courses are best due to busy work schedules or little time to attend on-campus courses. To succeed in an online course, students need regular access to a computer and reliable internet service. Online students also need to dedicate the same amount of time to online courses as they would for on-campus courses. In other words, creating and adhering to a schedule for study time, due dates, and other course-related matter is a critical factor of success in an online course. If you have questions, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What is an online course?

For the most part, an online course allows students the freedom to complete work as their time allows. However, students are still required to submit coursework by a set time and date per each instructor and the course curriculum. Note: OTC requires assessment proctoring for all online courses. Please visit Proctored Exams for more information about proctoring and options available to students. If you have questions, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What is a hybrid course?

A hybrid course is an online course combined with an on-campus course. Instructors dictate what they consider online and in-person participation. Our allied health and science departments offer several hybrid courses and programs.

What's the difference between an online course and on-campus course?

A primary difference between an online and an on-campus course is students do not have to attend a classroom in a campus building for learning or assignments. Another difference is that students will learn most of the material in an online course on their own. Don’t let that be a discouragement, though. Students can always ask fellow classmates or the instructor for help. When students attend an on-campus course, their instructor usually has a lesson or assignment pre-set for that specific day and time. Online courses typically go week-by-week with tasks students are to complete on their own time but within each specific week.

What is Canvas?

Think of Canvas as an online classroom. Canvas is a Learning Management Systems (LMS) accessible through the My OTC portal. Canvas is where online students access lessons, materials, etc. for their online course(s.) In Canvas, students can communicate with classmates in discussion boards (also called forums) and through the course messaging (email) tool.  Instructors post grades in the Canvas grade center for the course, so students can view their status. In addition, there are many other resources and features in Canvas to help students achieve objectives. We have a free Canvas practice course for OTC students to experience the features of an online course. Students can request enrollment in Online Student Success Practice course via this form (an OTC user email account is required.) If you have questions, contact the Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What is proctoring?

Proctored assessments in online courses is an OTC policy requirement. Proctoring means the student must present photo identification and completion of the proctored assessment must be monitored/observed/recorded via a pre-approved method. Students may complete proctored assessments at an OTC facility, an approved off-campus location, or via ProctorU online proctoring services. OTC requires one proctored assessment for all online courses. Some online courses require more than one proctored assessment as decided by the applicable department. The OTC Testing Services department oversees proctoring at OTC facilities. Examples of off-campus proctoring locations are colleges or universities, high schools or public libraries. You can find more information about restrictions, requirements, and options on our Proctoring web page. For assistance, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What kinds of courses and degrees are available to take online?

OTC offers a wide variety of courses in on-campus, hybrid, and online formats. We have several degrees and certificate programs that students can complete with online courses. For more information, visit Online Degrees & Certificates on the OTC website. To view the online course schedule, visit the course schedule page, and click on the online course options. If you have questions, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

If I take an online course, do I ever have to come to campus?

OTC offers a number of on-campus and education center events for students (student plays, job fairs, conferences, campus events, etc.) Online students are welcome to participate. Aside from those events, online students might choose to come to campus to complete a proctored assessment. If they do not live near an OTC facility, online students can complete their proctored assessment at an approved off-campus location or via ProctorU online proctoring services. Restrictions and fees may be applicable, so we have more information available on our Proctoring web page. For help with proctoring or any other online learning needs, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

Is an online course easier than an on-campus course?

Because online students don’t come to campus for class does not mean an online course is easier than an on-campus course. Course objectives are the same whether students take an online or on-campus course. Online students must spend as much time working in an online course as they would for an on-campus course. Successful online students have strong self-discipline, organization, and time-managements skills.  If you have questions, contact the Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What do students like about an online course?

Many students like the flexibility that online learning provides. For instance, students are able to do their coursework at a time that is convenient for them. This is especially helpful if they have jobs or other obligations. However, due dates are still applicable for coursework, so students should plan ahead to complete coursework before the due date expires. If you have questions, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What do students not like about an online course?

Some students miss in-person interaction with instructors and other students. However, our online course designs have audio and video tools, interactive assignments, and many other features that are interesting and stimulating. There are due dates in every online and on-campus course, but for the most part, online students complete assignments at a time that is convenient for them before the due date arrives. Students who are not self-motivated or do not have good time-management skills will find online coursework challenging. If you have questions, contact the OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

How do I interact with other students in an online course?

Students can interact with classmates in a couple of ways. There is a usually a Discussion Board link in the course where students can ask questions or reply to classmate questions or comments. Another way students can interact with classmates is through email, when students need to have a more one-on-one interaction, as opposed to the discussion board where all classmates can view posts.

What are the computer requirements for an online course?

You can find the current OTC computer requirements for an online course here. In addition, Canvas has a great web page for computer and browser specifications. If students are unsure whether their computer or device is sufficient for our online courses, they can contact OTC Online at or 417-447-8200.

What kind of assignments will I be given in an online course?

Assignments will depend on the course curriculum. For example, communication courses may require students to record a speech in front of an audience. English courses may require students to complete assignments using document software and upload them to the course Dropbox. Instructors may also require students to participate in online discussions through the course Discussion Board or Forum. Online courses also have quizzes and exams. Overall, all or most assignments in our online courses are submitted entirely online via Canvas and/or the publisher website. If students need assistance or advice with assignment processes, they can contact OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

How does an online public speaking course work?

With an online public speaking course, such as COM-105, students will need the ability to record speeches and upload the recording to the course, so the instructor can review and grade that assignment. The instructor will provide details regarding such requirements. Information is also generally available in the course syllabus, via course announcements (messages posted by the instructor in the course site) and in the assignment instructions. Students may also communicate with classmates in the discussions for help with assignment instructions.

How do I complete work in an online course with a lab such as a biology course?

In addition to regular coursework, which may include discussions, assignments, tests and quizzes, many science courses require lab components. Each week, instructors may require students to participate in a lab experience, which typically requires a weekly lab report or assignment. Labs can range from virtual labs, where students log into an specified site on the internet to complete the lab work, to labs in the community that require students to learn via a hands-on experience.

I need to take a math course. How do I complete my math assignments online?

Math courses often use a specific software program where it processes most of the coursework. The specific software component may have an access code that comes with the textbook (check to be sure if a used textbook has the required access code) or the instructor may provide an access code directly. Students will use the software for lessons and homework. Math students should also note that all exams in most math courses require a proctor.

Do I have to be in the online course at specific times or days?

In most cases, online students do not have to access their course(s) at a specific time or day. Each course instructor will specify any such requirement. Overall, there will be due dates and other reasons students will need to access their courses multiple times per week, but no specific time for presence. Setting aside due dates, OTC has attendance and administrative withdrawal policies. Students should be sure to follow policy requirements to avoid being withdrawn from their course(s.) We recommend students complete coursework at least weekly to avoid policy problems. Finally, students have access to their online courses 24/7. Exceptions will occur for system maintenance or unplanned outages due to technical difficulties. In such cases, neither students nor instructors can access the courses. When access is not available, OTC Online sends notifications as soon as possible. If students encounter difficulty accessing their courses, they should contact OTC Online staff for assistance at or 417-447-8200.

How can I use the college library if I'm not on campus?

Online students have access to the OTC library staff and online databases via the internet. Click here for more information about OTC library resources or to contact a librarian.

What materials (books, access codes, software, additional technology, etc.) do I need for an online course?

The OTC Bookstore maintains course textbook and material information. Course instructors will provide additional information regarding textbooks and materials for courses. The information is included in the course syllabus. Enrolled students can find information about specific textbooks and required materials by visiting their Access OTC area and looking under Bookstore Materials. It is also important to note the course textbook may have additional requirements, such as a publisher website access code, such as MyMathLab or Connect publisher websites. It is the student’s responsibility to have the correct required materials. Be cautioned that used books might not include a valid or unused access code. In addition, know that it can take time to get necessary textbooks and materials. Plan ahead as much as possible! If students have specific questions about textbooks and materials, they should contact the instructor or department chair. For assistance, students can contact Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

How many courses or credits can I handle with the time I have available?

Many students have jobs, are single parents, active military members, or have other reasons their time may be limited for online coursework. The below table, based on 16-week online coursework, may be a useful guide for you when choosing how many credits to take for online courses:

Work 40+ hours/week 1 Course at most 4 credit hours
Work 30 – 40 hours/week 1 – 2 Course(s) at most 7 credit hours
Work 20 – 30 hours/week 1 – 3 Course(s) at most 10 credit hours
Work under 20 hours/week up to Full-Time at most 15 credit hours

How should I organize and manage my time with an online course?

Managing time is key to being successful in an online course. The course instructor will provide a schedule of assignments. Students can add the due dates to a digital or paper calendar to avoid missing a due date. Most digital calendars have reminder notifications that can be very useful. The Canvas dashboard (home page) will show upcoming course activities if instructors have due dates set for each assignment. We recommend students submit assignments at least a day before the due date. It is important to know some instructors will not accept late work. If students fall behind, it could be difficult or impossible to catch up. To stay on track, we recommend students set aside a specific day and time for uninterrupted coursework.  Finally, OTC has excellent tutoring and counseling services available. The tutoring staff can help with subject tutoring, study patterns, and time management skills. If concerns arise with any course assignment, students should contact their instructor as soon as possible. If students need assistance or advice, they can contact OTC Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What are the most important things I can do to be successful in an online course?

The most successful online students manage their time effectively. It is important to stay current with assignment due dates and make certain to allow enough time to finish assigned coursework. Self-discipline and motivation are also key to success. For tips or resources for being a successful online learner, they should contact Online Student Success staff at or 417-447-8200.

What resources do I have to help me if I am having trouble with my course?

There are a number of resources available for students. Students should always contact their instructor by email as soon as concerns arise. Students can interact with classmates through the online course discussion board or through email. Students will also have a resources link in their online courses with available options, depending on the course and department preference. There are many OTC resources accessible to online students, such as online tutoring and counseling. Visit our Resources web page for more information. The Online Success Staff can provide a wide-variety of help and resources. You can contact the staff at or 417-447-8200.
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