eLearning FAQs
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eLearning Frequently Asked Questions

Is eLearning for me?

You need to determine if the advantages of eLearning outweigh the disadvantages in your situation. Please take the Online Readiness Self-Assessment as a starting point to see where you might stand. Some other factors you might consider:


  • Advantages: Convenient, flexible 24/7 course access, unlimited online resources, independent working schedule
  • Disadvantages: Technical skills needed, face-to-face contact is limited. Generally, self-motivated, self-disciplined individuals with good reading and comprehension skills will do better in an online class than others, though this is also true of face-to-face courses.

What type of computer skills do I need?

Online students are expected to have a basic knowledge of how to work with their computer and its operating system and a basic knowledge of software applications such as word processing, email, internet browser, and search engines.

What type of computer hardware/software do I need?

Please see the Technology Requirements page for the most up to date specific information.

How do I enroll in an eLearning course?

Enrollment is the same as for a face-to-face course. If you are already enrolled as a student, simply choose courses with a “W” or “B” in the course section will put you in an online or blended course.

After enrollment, how soon can I access a course?

Once registered for an eLearning course, your course instructor needs to make the course available to students. Several days before the start of the course, your course instructor should send you information on how to access your course online. If you do not have access to your course in Canvas by the official start date of the semester, please contact the course instructor directly.

After enrollment, how soon can I access the syllabus?

You can always access the syllabi for all courses in the Shelton State syllabus system, even without logging into the system. Once registered for an eLearning course, you will be able to access the syllabus for the course after logging into the Shelton State syllabus system usually within 48 hours Monday – Friday, which will make it appear as one of your courses when you are logged in, and will allow the grading and schedule sections to show. It is possible before the semester has begun that the instructor has not yet added these sections, so if you see the course added for you, but you don’t see the section you are looking for, you may need to contact the instructor.

Once the semester has concluded, you will continue to have access to the syllabus through the Syllabus System.

How much does it cost to take an eLearning course?

eLearning courses cost exactly the same amount as traditional face-to-face courses at Shelton State. Take a look at the Tuition & Fees page for further details.

Do I need to purchase a textbook or materials for an online course?

Most eLearning courses will use the same textbook used in a face-to-face version of the course. However, some eLearning courses access all course materials directly via the internet at no additional cost. Prior to the start of an online course, the course instructor should send you the course syllabus which will contain the materials that you need to purchase for the course as well as information on where you can purchase them.

Do I need to come to a physical campus to complete work for an eLearning course?

Almost all eLearning courses do not require you to come to campus. If you are taking a blended course, there will be some required on-campus meetings in a face-to-face format and the rest of the course will be online. Both online and blended courses have two required proctored exams that may or may not be required specifically on Shelton State’s campus. Any additional requirements for online courses should be clearly indicated in the course syllabus.

When do eLearning courses begin/end?

eLearning courses generally begin one week after the on-campus courses for begin but end at the same time dates. The Registration Information page on the Shelton State website has the Academic Calendars available for your convenience.

What is the time commitment for an eLearning course?

As a general rule of thumb, the time commitment for an eLearning course is expected to be similar to the time commitment if the same course were taught in a traditional face-to-face classroom when taking into consideration the time spend in the classroom and the time spend doing homework and other out of class activities.

How do eLearning courses work?

eLearning courses are accessed through the Internet. Once students enroll in a course they access it through Canvas. Students do not install the LMS on their computers; they simply use its tools directly from the Canvas website. A typical course is divided into a series of lessons, similar to a face-to-face course.

Do I work through the course independently?

Not usually. Often other students will be taking the course at the same time and you will communicate with them and the instructor via the discussion tools in Canvas. The instructor sets specific deadlines to complete each activity, but students usually do not need to access the course at a specific time each day.

Do I have to be online at a certain time every day?

Most eLearning courses are offered in an asynchronous format, which means students and instructors do not all have to access their course at a specific time each day, but can access and work on the course at times that are convenient to them. In most eLearning courses, it is extremely important that students participate in the course at least 4-5 times per week. Specific requirements for participation will be laid out by your instructor.

How do online courses compare to face-to-face courses?

Online courses are treated the same way as face-to-face courses and are held to the same academic standards.

  • The content will be similar, if not identical. Online courses can include assignments, presentations, discussions, projects, tests, etc. The course materials will often be reworked for online delivery, but the content remains the same. High school and college transcripts usually make no distinction whether a particular course was completed online or face-to-face.
  • The difficulty level of the course work is intended to be the same. Do realize, though, that you do not have the “imposed discipline” that accompanies a face-to-face course (for example, “the class meets in room 2625 every M-W-F from 8-9 am”).  Being successful in an online course does require an extra measure of self-discipline.
  • Time commitment is expected to be similar between an online and a face-to-face course. (See the answer to What is the time commitment for an online course? for a more detailed answer.)
  • Main differences between an online and a face-to-face course are that scheduling of class/study time is more flexible, communicating with instructor and classmates is electronic, course materials have been reworked for online delivery, work is submitted electronically, and no travel is required, making them more convenient for the student.

How do I get technical help?

It is the responsibility of student to seek local technical help with the computer and software they need to take an online course through the myShelton site, technical assistance on accessing the course and working with the Course Management System should be available through the Help section of the Canvas website or by calling 1-866-722-5898.

Where do I go if I need help with the course content?

If you need help in an eLearning course, your first stop should be with your instructor. Make sure you understand how the course is structured and the expectations. If you find you need tutoring, online students have access to on campus tutoring as well as “Smarthinking Online Tutoring” through Canvas, which offers tutoring in most subject areas virtually 24/7.

I am new to eLearning. Is there an orientation session available?

Yes. Once you have been accepted as a student at Shelton State, you are able to self-enroll in the eLearning Orientation course and earn the eLearning badge.

If needed, will I be able to access library resources?

Online students have the same online access to the college library as on-campus students. All students can also access library resources from off campus. The Library Services website provides detailed information on the services provided online and on both the Martin and Fredd Campuses.

Do online course credits transfer to other schools?

Whether a course was taken online or in a traditional classroom environment at Shelton State will have no bearing on whether the course transfers in to another school or not.


Ultimately, it is the school that you want to transfer the course to that needs to determine if the course will be accepted or not. Hence, it is always wise to check with the receiving school prior to starting a course.


The STARS transfer guide will help you to get a better idea of what may or may not transfer across the state of Alabama.

Excerpted and edited from NCPSA Distance Education FAQs