Students use ACCESS courses for scheduling conflicts, taking a course not offered face-to-face (including Advanced Placement courses), making up a missed credit, trying a different style of learning, or improving technology skills are all possible reasons.
Why take an ACCESS course?
Am I a good candidate for an ACCESS class?
Successful online students possess identifiable qualities. The most important qualities would include self-discipline and self-motivation. Initially, the online learning process may appear to operate at an accelerated pace. This will require commitment on part of the student to stay up with the class and complete all work on time. Once a student gets behind, it is very difficult to catch up.
Here are some characteristics of successful online learners:
- are self-motivated and self-disciplined
- stay on task without direct supervision
- like to figure things out without direct assistance
- prioritize workload effectively
- can successfully work alone
- are good at assessing their own progress
- like working with computers and software programs
- enjoy the challenge of working with new technology
- are good at following instructions
- use email and can create messages with attached files
- can download and install programs from the Internet
- can search the Web
- can copy and paste from one program to another
- rarely procrastinate
- enjoy communicating in writing and reading the writing of others
- work with others to complete projects
- seek assistance when problems arise
- take an active role in the learning process
Do not disregard the importance of the qualities listed above; they will determine your success.
Learning Technologies, (2007). Is Online Learning for You? Battle Creek, MI: Kellogg Community College. Retrieved June 23, 2009 from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/resources/tutorials/pedagogy/StudentProfile.asp
What technical skills are needed?
You do not have to be a computer expert to take an online course. However, you must be comfortable using a computer and working on the Internet. Most importantly, you must be willing to troubleshoot and attempt to resolve any technical problems that may arise. It is a fact of life that hardware and software breaks down when you least desire or expect it. Successful online students are individuals who recognize this inevitability and plan for it.
To do well in an online course, you should be very comfortable with the following:
- Using a Web browser (Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, FireFox). Note that these popular browsers perform differently. It is recommended that you be able to use Firefox and Internet Explorer because occasionally there is a need to use both browsers in order to work effectively on the Web.
- Using a standard word processor (for example, Microsoft Word [or program compatible with Word, WordPad]).
- Reading, composing, and sending email, including sending email with attachments.
- Understanding and respecting netiquette and email etiquette.
- Managing computer files. You will need to save and locate files on your hard drive, shared drives, flash drives, and possibly on the Internet.
- Finding information on the Web by using search engines and bookmarking useful Websites.
You will need all of the technical skills mentioned above in online courses. Lack of technical knowledge can greatly interfere with your success in learning online. If you do not have the above skills, consider taking a computer literacy course prior to enrolling in an online course. There is MUCH more to an online class than just 'surfing the Web'.
Can I enroll myself in an ACCESS course?
No. Only the designated person for your school (usually a school counselor) may enroll a student in ACCESS. ACCESS students must be enrolled in an Alabama public school in Grades 9-12 at the time of their ACCESS enrollment.
Who will be my teacher?
Your teacher will be an Alabama-certified, highly-qualified teacher. He or she probably teaches full time at an Alabama high school in your region.
Will I be online the same time as my teacher?
No. Students 'attend' class during the time that best fits the schedule at their home school, probably in an ACCESS lab or computer lab. Even though you have time during the school day to work on your virtual course, you may need to access the course outside of regular school hours for homework, just as you do for your face-to-face courses. When you log in to your class, you will find the assignment and instructions posted by your teacher. Most likely you will communicate through email and webinars, but don’t rule out the telephone. Your teacher will let you know how to communicate. There may be specific times set up for chat rooms or webinars, either with your teacher or with other students, but your teacher will let you know if that’s the case.
Will I need a computer at home?
It is helpful to have a computer and Internet access at home, but if you don't, you can always try the public library in your area.
How do I get my grade?
Upon successful completion of your course in the allotted time, your teacher will calculate the points you received on your tasks, assignments, quizzes, etc., and return that number to your home school where that point value will be assigned a numerical grade according to your home school's grading policy.
How do I get help if I need it?
If you are have trouble with course content, notify your teacher at once. If you do not hear from your teacher within 48 hours, contact your regional support center. If you are having technical difficulties, please let your facilitator know and if the facilitator cannot resolve the issue they will call your school or system-level technology team.