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Student FAQ

Here you’ll find the answers to a variety of common questions you may have in regards to OTC online courses.

Why take an online course?

Online courses work well for students who are self-directed but who may have busy schedules or limited 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 prepare to dedicate the same amount of time to online courses as they would an on-campus course.

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

There is a wide variety of courses that OTC offers online. OTC Online offers degrees and certificate programs that students can completed with online classes. For more information on what degrees we offer, visit Online Degrees & Certificates on the OTC website. To view the online course schedule, visit the class schedule page and click on the OTC online course schedule link.

What is an online course?

Online Courses

OTC delivers online courses entirely online and they do not require that you come to campus. An online course gives you the freedom to complete work on your own time. However, these courses still require students to submit coursework at dates and times specified by your instructors. Note: OTC requires test proctoring in all online courses. Please visit this web page for more information about proctoring and options available to students: Proctored Exams.

What is Canvas? What is Blackboard?

Learning Management System

Think of Canvas and Blackboard as online classrooms. Both Canvas and Blackboard are online websites (called Learning Management Systems or LMS), accessible through the My OTC portal. Canvas or Blackboard is where online students access lessons, homework and all things normally covered in an on-campus course. Students are able to communicate with classmates in the online course through discussion boards and email features in their Canvas or Blackboard course site.  Instructors post grades in the online classrooms, so students can view their progress. In addition, there are many other resources and features in Canvas and Blackboard to help students to achieve learning objectives. Until fall 2017, an online course may be accessible in Canvas or Blackboard (not both). Please visit this webpage for more information: Transition from Blackboard to Canvas.

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

Because online students don’t visit an on-campus classroom, it doesn’t mean that an online course is easier. Successful online students have strong self-discipline and time-managements skills. Online students must spend as much time working in an online course as they would for an on-campus course. Course objectives are the same whether students take an online or on-campus course.

What do students like about an online course?

Online Benefits

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.

What do students not like about an online course?

Online Challenges

Some students miss the face to face interaction with instructors and other students. However, new online audio and video tools in Blackboard provide a richer online learning experience than previously possible. There are deadlines in an online class, but you are able to complete coursework at a time that is convenient for you in order to meet these deadlines. Students who are not self-motivated or lack good time-management skills can find online classes to be challenging.

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

Library Access

Online students have access to the OTC library databases via internet. To access the databases, students should log into their MyOTC portal account and click on the gray Resources tab. There students will find a complete listing of OTC library databases. If you need help accessing or finding online library resources, please contact our eLibrarian, Tracy Ponder, at 417-447-8173 or

What are the computer requirements for an online course?

Computer Requirements

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 is sufficient for an online course, they can contact OTC Online staff at or 417-447-8200.

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

Campus Requirements

OTC offers a number of extra-curricular activities for students (student plays, job fairs, conferences, campus events, etc.) and online students are welcome to come to campus and participate. However, one reason online students might need to come to campus would be to complete a proctored assessment. If online students do not live near an OTC campus, they can complete their proctored assessment at an approved off-campus location or via ProctorU online proctoring services. Restrictions are applicable, so we have more information available on our Proctoring web page for approved off-campus locations and ProctorU. As always, if students have questions about proctoring, they may contact OTC Online staff at or 417-447-8200.

What does proctoring mean?


Proctoring is an OTC policy and means that the proctored assessment must be monitored via an approved means. Students may complete the assessment either at an OTC facility, at an approved off-campus location or via ProctorU online proctoring services. OTC requires one proctored assessment for all online courses, except for a few courses which require all assessments be proctored. The OTC Testing Services department has pre-approval for proctoring. 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. As always, if students have questions about proctoring, they may contact OTC Online staff at or 417-447-8200.

How can I know what materials (books, access codes, software, additional technology, etc.) I need for an online course?

Course Materials

Students can find textbook and required materials information under the “AccessOTC” tab in the “My Booklist” area. The textbook itself may include additional required materials (such as a software access code). Be aware when purchasing used books that they may not include software access codes. The course instructor will provide additional information regarding what they require for the course. If you have specific questions about textbooks and materials, we recommend that you contact your instructor. Or, visit the OTC bookstore prior to the start of the semester. Remember, it can take time to get all the necessary textbooks and materials. Plan ahead as much as possible!

How should I manage my time with an online course?

Time Management

Managing time is key in being successful in an online course. If students fall behind, it can be difficult to catch up. In some cases, instructors do no accept late work . Setting a specific time each week to work in each course is important. A calendar of due dates is highly recommended and a study location that has few distractions is important. It is also important to stay in contact with the instructor if concerns arise. Finally, OTC has excellent tutoring and counseling services available. They can help students learn study and time management skills. Contact OTC Online staff for more information: or 417-447-8200.

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

Online Class Schedule

In most cases, students do not have to access their online course at a specific time or day. The 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. Remember OTC has attendance and administrative withdrawal policies. Click the links to view the current versions of each policy. Most of the time students have access to their courses 24/7. On occasion our systems may be down for maintenance and students and/or instructors may not be able to access their courses. In those instances, OTC notifies everyone via OTC email as early as possible.

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


Assignments will depend on the course curriculum. For example, communications courses may require students to record a speech in front of an audience. English courses may require students to submit a number of written, paper assignments via upload to the course site.  Instructors may also require students to participate in a discussion through the online course “Discussion Board.” Or, they might require online quizzes and exams.

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

Online Course Differences

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 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.

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. First, 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 course site 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 Learning Resources web page for more information. Finally, students can request assistance from OTC Online staff at or 417-447-8200.

How does an online public speaking course work?

Public Speaking Courses

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

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.

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

Student Interaction

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 is a hybrid course?

Hybrid Courses

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.

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