UCR University Extension's first distance learning classes were offered live online in 2000, and asynchronous online classes followed soon after. We now provide more than 400 online classes a year to nearly 6000 students in a variety of academic disciplines.

If you have never experienced an online class, you may be wondering why anyone would give up the traditional classroom for a virtual one. Although online classes offer a different learning experience, they have one very important thing in common with traditional face-to-face classes: good teaching. Good online teaching involves designing an engaging learning experience using a variety of instructional tools and media, and then developing a strong online presence through interactions with students. In a good online class, you won't feel alone or isolated. Instead, you will be part of an active learning community.

Instructional Methods

Online: Class sessions and activities are conducted online with an instructor. In synchronous learning, students are virtually present at the same time, led by an instructor, and often develop a bond. In asynchronous learning, students log in at their convenience, complete work at their own pace, and may interact with classmates and the instructor through online discussion boards and forums (if required). Some asynchronous learning courses may also include live chat sessions. Your instructor will provide assignments, answer questions, give feedback on posts, and grade your work.

Online Course with Live Sessions: This virtual classroom employs live video and audio, and offers students the opportunity to discuss ideas with other online students, and interact with the instructor in real time. In some cases, the webcast is paired with a live classroom class. If you miss a class, the archival feature allows you to view it later.

Hybrid: Blended courses combine face-to-face and online, asynchronous instruction, where one or more classroom meetings are replaced by work completed online. The proportion of face-to-face to online meetings varies from class to class.

Dual Mode: This flexible course structure gives students the option of attending class sessions in person, online via asynchronous instruction, or combining the two delivery systems. Dual Mode delivery allows students to change their mode of attendance weekly or by topic, according to their needs, preferences, and the syllabus structure.

Online Learning Requirements

  • An email address
  • A UCR NetID
  • Internet Connection
  • Modern Web Browser
  • Speakers or headphones
  • Live webcast courses also require a microphone

Is Online Learning Right for You?: Online learning is not for everyone. Successful online learners generally fit most or all of these characteristics - see if you fit the mold:

  • Motivated and Disciplined Self-Starter: Since you are essentially working on your own time and setting your own study schedule, it's essential that you are responsible and able to work independently.
  • Comfortable Expressing Thoughts in Writing: Online classes rely almost entirely on written communication, so you should be well-versed in using email, online discussion boards, and word processing software to produce essays and other written assignments.
  • Have Access to a Computer and Know How to Perform Basic Computer Functions: Virtual learning requires a computer with a reliable internet connection, in order to ensure timely delivery of information. As for personal skills, you should have experience navigating the internet, saving/uploading/downloading files and using word processing software.
  • Strong Time Management Skills: With soft deadlines, it's easy to procrastinate and get behind. It's important to keep a checklist and set reminders for yourself to ensure you stay on task throughout the class, and not leave everything for the last minute.

Choose What's Best for You: Browse this list of available online courses to find the one that's best for you.