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Course types

There are variations of online-based courses. Please review the information below and read the course descriptions carefully so you can make an informed choice about your online learning options. Be sure to check the Schedule of Classes, available both in print and online versions.


Distance Learning - Online Courses

At NVCC, distance learning courses are defined as those courses in which traditional classroom meetings and/or labs compose less than 30% of the course time.  Most distance learning courses are offered by the Extended Learning Institute (ELI), but some distance learning courses are also offered through individual NVCC campuses. 

Online courses at NVCC are primarily web-based and require access to the Internet. Online courses are designed to offer access to higher education from the convenience of your home or office anytime. Courses are designed to create a community of learner, support communication between student and faculty, and guide students to valuable and appropriate resources.

Some courses combine web-based instruction with online class sessions using Blackboard Collaborate, a virtual classroom meeting space. Students “attend” class at regularly scheduled days and times, but at a distance, using their computers, tablets, or mobile devices. Students must have reliable access to the Internet and be competent with computers, email, and other technology. Check individual course descriptions for specific requirements or contact the individual instructor with questions.

NVCC distance courses can be accessed anywhere and anytime via the Internet and a Web browser (e.g. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome). Things to consider when choosing a distance course include the following:

  • Additional technology may be required for distance courses including watching video programs, using computer programs on CD-ROM, listening to audio programs, and/or using voice mail.
  • Some online courses require in-person meetings or labs.
  • Testing requirements and locations vary. Campus-based courses require testing to take place in the testing center located on that campus. Examinations for Extended Learning Institute distance learning courses can be taken at any NVCC campus testing center during open testing center hours. For individuals who live outside the Washington, DC metropolitan area, you may arrange to have your exams proctored.
  • Some distance learning courses allow students the flexibility to work ahead on their own and complete a course early; others require students to work through at a pre-determined pace.
  • Be sure to check individual course descriptions for specific requirements or contact the individual instructor with questions.

Find out which NVCC courses are offered in a distance format.

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Traditional Courses

Traditional courses are in-person courses offered either on-site at an NVCC campus or at other designated locations (e.g. military base, hospital). A college instructor meets on a regular schedule with a group of students. All attendance is at a specified location and a specified time. Occasionally an assignment may require technology or internet access. Testing is done primarily during class time. Traditional courses are offered at each of the NVCC campuses.

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Hybrid Course

A hybrid course is a course where some learning has been moved online and in-class seat time has been reduced. Commonly courses are 50% face to face with 50% online activities. Other proportions are possible.

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Distance Learning Courses

ELI (Extended Learning Institute) distance learning courses are generally more flexible than campus-based distance learning courses. ELI courses are popular with students who reside outside of the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Most do not require in-person meetings; others require minimal in-person meetings (e.g., science labs or group meetings for speech classes). Exams may be taken at any of the NVCC campus testing centers.  Out-of-area students must secure a proctor at a local college or university to administer the course exams. 

Most ELI distance learning courses are 16-week courses, but some offer an accelerated 8-week completion schedule. Courses start at the beginning of the semester; for some courses, additional sections start later in the semester (dependent on enrollment capacities).  ELI courses are delivered online or via print-based materials and require access to the Internet.  Many courses use additional technology, such as computer software, video, audio, and voice mail, and some courses require scheduled meetings, which may be in-person or online. Be sure to check individual course descriptions for specific requirements or contact the individual instructor with questions.

Finally, students enrolled in ELI distance learning courses have access to an ELI Hotline (703-323-3347, 1-888-4DL-NVCC (888-435-6822), V/TDD 703-323-3717) and ELI Chat Line. Students enrolled in ELI distance learning courses can call and talk with a well-informed student support services representative. Typical questions center around registration, student services (e.g. advising, transfer planning), testing, and other issues that often arise when taking a distance learning course. ELI Hotline Hours are Monday-Thursday 8:00 a.m.- 9:00 p.m.; and Friday 8:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m. Technical support is available 24/7. We also encourage you to visit the website on a regular basis to check for announcements and new features.

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Technology Requirements

All online courses require access to the Internet. Additionally, courses may require watching video programs, using computer programs on CD-ROM, listening to audio programs, using apps, and/or using voice mail. Be sure to check individual course descriptions for specific requirements or contact the individual instructor with questions.

Blackboard Collaborate: Some courses require weekly scheduled web meetings using the Blackboard Collaborate virtual classroom. Using a computer, tablet, or mobile device, (and a microphone for some courses), and Internet connection, students attend regular online sessions at pre-designated times. Your device must have Java installed in order to run Blackboard Collaborate.

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