Distance Learning FAQ's
Considering a distance learning course at WPCC? Here are some answers to frequently-asked questions about them.
What are online courses?
An online course at WPCC is a course delivered through a Learning Management System (LMS) via a computer with Internet access. The course provides a series of lessons that can be accessed anytime and anyplace. WPCC uses Moodle as the LMS for delivering online courses. Some courses may require an on-campus meeting. The course syllabus will provide information regarding a meeting time if one is necessary.
Section numbers: WPCC online courses are identiited in the Class Schedule with section numbers ranging from 40 to 49. Some section 61 courses are actually online courses, however they may require students to take proctored examinations.
How do online courses work?
Internet and computer access is required in order for a student to be able to complete an online course. All online courses will have work that must be completed and submitted via the Internet on a weekly basis, and many courses will have multiple assignments due within the same week. While smartphones all have Internet capabilities, it is not always optimal to complete online coursework on a phone. Some online courses operate on software that is not compatible with a phone. This is not a valid excuse for not submitting an assignment on time.
Should I take an online course?
Complete this online readiness assessment (opens in new window) to see if you are ready for online learning.
What technical skills do I need for online learning?
For online classes the necessary skills are as follows:
- Basic knowledge of computer software and tools.
- Capable of using a word processor, email, an Internet browser, search engines, copy and paste tools, and switching between window and applications.
- Ability to download and install software and plug-ins if necessary
What type of computer will I need for online eLearning?
The computer requirements are driven by the requirements imposed by the Learning Management System (LMS) that is used to deliver the course materials. Typically, the minimum requirements for these systems are as follows:
- Vista, Windows 7 or higher
- 2 GB of RAM
- Microsoft Office 2013 or higher
- High speed Internet connection
- Graphics and sound cards
- Speakers and/or headset with microphone (if course requires)
- Webcam maybe required for some courses
- Mac OSX or better
- 2 GB of RAM
- G4 Processor or better
- Microsoft Office 2013 or higher
- High speed Internet connection
What type and version of browser will I need for online learning?
It is recommended that you use Firefox or Google Chrome or higher for Windows and Firefox or Safari for Mac.
What type of browser plug-ins do eLearning classes require? How do I get the required plug-ins?
In addition to a working Internet connection and browser, you will need some specific browser plug-ins. Some of the typical plug-ins needed for working with online classes include Macromedia’s Flash plug-in, which is included with most Internet browsers, QuickTime, the Real Media Player, and Adobe Acrobat reader. All of these plug-ins listed below are available as free downloads.
- Acrobat Reader (opens in new window)
- Flash Player (opens in new window)
- Shockwave Player (opens in new window)
- QuickTime Player (opens in new window)
- RealOne Player (opens in new window)
- Windows Media player (opens in new window) – Choose correct Operating system
What are Pioneer Pass, Moodle, and Outlook email? How do I access them?
Pioneer Pass is a Web interface that provides Western Piedmont Community College students real-time, up-to-date information online. It can be used to register for classes, view class schedules, check grades, view unofficial transcripts, make payments, check financial aid information, and much more.
Some sections of Pioneer Pass – like the semester schedules – are accessible to anyone. Other sections containing personal student information are secure and require students to use an I.D. and password for access. We are committed to maintaining the security and confidentiality of student records.
Moodle is an online course management system, which offers students a robust set of tools, functions, and features for learning. Once you register for a course or program, you will be given access to the institution’s LMS. Contact the Distance Learning department if you have difficulty.
Outlook email is your WPCC student email account. It is vital that you have access to your email account because your instructors will communicate with you through that email address.
You can access all these accounts by going to www.wpcc.edu(opens in new window) and click the appropriate link on the top of the page.
What do I need to know before taking online tests?
General Instructions for your institution’s tests are:
- Make sure that your Internet Browser meets the minimum requirement. We recommend that you always have an up-to-date version installed in your computer.
- Make sure your ISP time-out settings are set to the maximum allowed time.
- Never open a test until you are ready to take it. If you look at a test and close the browser without actually taking the test Moodle sees this as an attempt and will assign a grade of zero.
- Do not wait until the last minute before taking a test. ISP issues can cause you to lose access to a test resulting in a grade of zero.
What types of online tests are used in online courses? How can I take online tests?
Your instructor can test you in a variety of ways. He or she may ask you to complete a paper, project, or other special assignment in lieu of traditional tests. The instructor may also set up exams in Moodle that may be multiple choice, short answer, matching, essay, or a combination of all. Please note that online tests are usually set up to be offered on certain days and to be timed. This means that once you open a test and begin it, you must finish it at that time. You may not open the exam more than once. Please read all instructions carefully before you begin.
What happens if my test messes up or malfunctions in Moodle?
Contact your instructor and let them know of your difficulty.
Who can help me if I have technical problems?
You should contact WPCC’s Help Desk at (828) 448-6030.
Do I have to be admitted to WPCC to take classes online?
Yes. You must be admitted to WPCC before you may register for classes offered through Distance Education. You will go through the same process as for non-online degrees.
How do I gain admission to WPCC?
Do I need an advisor to take classes online?
Yes, you must have an advisor’s or counselors approval before you can register. For advisement on courses or programs, contact the course instructor, the department through which the course if offered, a campus counselor, or the advisor assigned to you upon admission.
How do I apply for enrollment in an online degree program?
Will I ever have to come to campus?
Some classes have required online orientation and testing, others have required on-campus orientation and testing is on line. Check WPCC’s Class Schedules page for orientation requirements and check with the course instructor for your individual class campus requirements. This information can also be found in the course syllabus.
What kind of contact with professors and other online students will I have?
In online or distance learning classes, you can interact with others through email and discussion boards. You and fellow students may choose to meet face-to-face, although this is not required. If an instructor has virtual office hours, they are usually outlined at the beginning of the each course. There are email and phone call options for contact as well.
Can I apply for financial aid?
Yes, as long as you are enrolled for at least 6 hours. Some scholarships are designated for adult students age 24 years and older. Loans and grants are also available by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (opens in new window). Visit WPCC’s Financial Aid page for more information on aid availability and how to apply.
How do I know what is expected of me in a particular class?
As in traditional classes, your instructor will provide you with a syllabus outlining the assignments for the class. Your instructor will also provide you with any additional information you will need to successfully complete the class. Be sure to keep in contact with your instructor to ensure that you keep on top of any assignments.
Do I need to contact my instructor?
Yes, if you have questions related to course work or pertinent information you should sent an email to your instructor using your WPCC Outlook email account. Use your college email account to help ensure a response from your instructor.
As a student, am I bound by copyright law?
Yes. If you must use copyrighted material to complete your coursework, you are responsible for making sure you use that material in acceptable ways under the Copyright Law of the United States.
How long does it take to study for an online or distance learning (DL) course?
Prior to taking a Distance Education course, many students assume this format is easier. However, depending upon various factors, the initial time demand can be greater than traditional classroom delivery methods. You will need to organize your materials, utilize time management, and find a comfortable and quiet place to study. Assignments and projects are compatible with distance learning teaching methodology, so you will be submitting your work through course links or email. The class time, then, largely depends on your current course document status, your motivation level and your familiarity with computers.
What is the procedure for drop/add/withdrawal?
During Regular Registration day(s) students can drop or add courses through Pioneer Pass.
From the first day of the term through the 10% point of the semester the student must come to Student Services to complete the Official Course Refund Request Form. Refunds up to the 10% point of the semester will be 75% of tuition and fee charges.
After the 10% point of the semester, students must inform the course instructor, who will complete and submit the Withdrawal notification. There are no tuition refunds for any course withdrawals after the 10% point of the semester.
When do my classes begin and end?
All Distance Education courses, including Online Courses, follow the traditional Academic Calendar. Students will not be able to access courses until the first day of class according to the College Calendar (these dates are also indicated in our list of Online Courses). Once your account is activated, you should be able to access your course. If you are able to login to Moodle, but do not see your course listed, please contact your instructor first to see if they have made the course available for students viewing. Read the information below regarding activation of your Moodle account:
- For a student who registers during any registration before the first day of classes and completes tuition payment for a Moodle supported course, his or her account will be active on the first day of class.
- For a student who registers on the first day of class or after, his or her account should be active no later than the third business day after their tuition payment has been received.
Do DL students have access to the library?
Yes. Distance Learning students have access to all of the Library’s services and resources. If you have more questions, please contact the Library at (828) 448-6195. More information is available online about the Learning Resource Center (opens in new window).
Are distance education classes accredited?
Yes. Western Piedmont Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Trouble with your login or password?
Your username and password in is the same for Moodle, Pioneer Pass and Outlook email. To obtain your username for WPCC you can find it on Pioneer Pass Account Information (opens in new window) and clicking on “What’s my User ID?”. Then you will need to go to Password Master (Opens a new window) and choose “Set Password”. Once your password is set you will be able to log into Moodle, Pioneer Pass, and Outlook email. If you have problems with Password Master then you can call the WPCC Help Desk at (828) 448-6030 or go by and see them in Moore Hall room 17.