For the most part, students in online classes do the same type of work as those taking courses in a traditional classroom setting, such as homework assignments, participation activities, and examinations. But as course delivery and instructional methods differ in online classes, the majority of work revolves around written communication and reading.
Rather than physically attending a class, students in online courses assess and complete coursework through online management systems. Instead of attending a class lecture, an online student might be required to go through a learning module, watch an educational video, or listen to an academic recording. Generally, online classes also require students to complete a lot of reading assignments from their textbooks or additional sources. Since instructors cannot observe students in a learning environment, they may ask students to prove their understanding of material in writing. Online students are often required to write topical essays or submit detailed, thorough answers to questions about each reading assignment.
Since students in online courses don't have to sign an attendance sheet or raise their hand to answer a question in class, participation must be measured through other types of work. Online instructors may ask students to meet in a designated chat room to engage in a debate or submit posts on a discussion board to respond to assigned questions, comment on learning material, or provide feedback on a particular lesson. Instead of seeing an instructor after class with questions about course content, online students should be prepared to send them detailed e-mails. The more a student corresponds with the instructor and participates in these types of activities, even when it is not required, the more likely the instructor is to recognize their academic efforts and give the appropriate credit.
Just because students are taking courses online doesn't mean that they won't have to take exams. In fact, they may even be required to pass a greater number of assessments. While the instructor might not surprise students with a pop quiz at the beginning of class, it is likely that quizzes over learning material will have to be taken on a regular basis. These types of interactive quizzes can usually be accessed through the course Web portal and must be completed during a set time frame.
Even though most online courses can be completed strictly online, others may require you to leave the comfort of your own home when it comes to exams. Sometimes online courses have "open-book" exams that are available to take online, but only give students a certain amount of time to answer each question. For exams that carry more weight, such as mid-terms or finals, students may be required to go to an approved testing center and take it under the supervision of an exam proctor.