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Explore online education in Tennessee

The Online Course Experience

The online course experience is about staying connected anytime, anywhere in a safe and personal environment. Most importantly, you learn at your own pace and interact with the content in the way that works best for you!

Download this resource to see if you're a good candidate for online learning. 


Types of Online Courses

Fully Online

In an online course, students access course material online and follow instructions provided by a professor. Courses are structured so that students work independently but have significant interaction with the professor and other students. All courses have set schedules and due dates for assignments.

A fully online course is conducted via the Internet with no need to visit the campus for instruction. However, some fully online courses may use proctored testing for mid-term and final exams. If your exams are proctored, you can schedule your exam at a campus testing center during a specified window of time or find an alternative proctoring solution that meets your professor’s approval.


A hybrid course is a blend of face-to-face instruction with online learning. These courses are known as hybrid or blended courses due to the nature of the learning environment. In a hybrid course, a significant portion of the course learning is online, however, at various points in the semester you will be required to be on campus to meet in person with other students and your professor. On-campus class requirements vary from course to course.

Accelerated Courses

Some fully online courses are offered in an accelerated 7-week format. The content covered in a 7-week session is the same content covered in a 15-week semester except at a much faster rate of pace.

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Registering for Online Courses

Registration for online courses is completed in the same way as traditional courses. You must be admitted to the university and complete any prerequisites before registration. Course registration typically occurs online through the institution’s registration system. The instructional mode for online courses is clearly identified through course descriptors and section numbers within the registration system.

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Accessing Your Online Course

All course work is completed through participation in the Desire2Learn Learning Management System (D2L). You will not be able to see your classes in D2L until the date of the first class as posted on the academic calendar for Universities/Colleges or Colleges of Applied Technology.

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Participating in Your Online Course

An online class is not a watered down or weaker version of a face-to-face class. Nor are they self-paced. You must participate in your online course. Failure to do so could impact financial aid and your enrollment status.

As a student, you follow an outline of course topics, turn in assignments and take exams on dates scheduled in the course by the professor. For example, your professor makes an assignment which is due on July 8. You can work on the assignment any time (day or night). As long as you turn the completed assignment in by July 8, you have met the professor's expectations.

Lab assignments in courses like Biology are simulated in multiple dimensions, are visually appealing and dynamic in nature. In a simulated setting, you can make mistakes and miscalculations, learn from your mistakes, practice as much as needed, or get access to investigations and equipment that might not be available in the classroom.

Other expectations may include projects (individual and group), essays, readings or discussion posts with your classmates.

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Virtual Student Services

Online learners have access to the same support services provided to on-campus students. Many of the services are web-enabled to provide easier access and convenience. Services you can expect include:

  • Assistance with financial aid and scholarships
  • Virtual Bookstore
  • Virtual Library Services
  • Virtual Tutoring
  • Disability Services Resources
  • Student Help and Technical Support
  • Online Orientation
  • Program and Course Advisement
  • Career Services

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Student Affairs

Formal processes and procedures are in place for online students who want to appeal a grade or register a complaint regarding a professor or another student.

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