Online Class FAQ

Beginning with the Fall 2013 semester, NPC is implementing a program to improve student learning in Internet-based classes. Prior to enrollment in Internet sections (POS 221 & 222 are exempt) students must either demonstrate or develop basic computer skills necessary for online learning.
Students who feel proficient and confident about their abilities can demonstrate this by completing an opt-out test. Those who have trouble successfully completing the test, or want to brush up their skills, must enroll in Skills for Online Learning – ICT 095, a half-credit, tuition-free course consisting of four hours of face-to-face contact and four hours of online work.
The online competency testing requirement is explained on this webpage. Testing FAQs.

Northland Pioneer College

What does it take
to be an online student?

To be successful, online students need certain skills (such as familiarity with using email, browsers, and word processors) and a high degree of discipline and motivation. Here are some other characteristics that favor success in online courses. The student:

  • Realizes that online courses require AT LEAST as much time and study as on-campus courses. (Successful distance education students typically report spending more time, not less, than in regular courses.)
  • Is a reader with good comprehension skills. (Directions are generally in written form without face-to-face or verbal communication.)
  • Does not require interaction with other students and instructors to grasp materials.
  • Is interested in trying new methods of learning.
  • Is not afraid of new technology--utilizes the computer as a tool, like pencil and paper.
  • Has experience using the Internet, searching for references and browsing.
  • Is organized in submitting coursework with proper labeling.
  • Is patient.


Are Internet courses different than classroom courses?

Internet courses are really another method for the presentation of knowledge and have the same requirements as any other course offered by the college. Internet courses are NOT briefer versions of classroom instruction.

All class prerequisites must have been met for any course for which you are registering. See each course description for the required prerequisites.

Students are expected to complete ALL coursework within the actual semester. New students may freely enroll in an Internet course up to one week after the first day of classes if the class is not at maximum capacity. After the first week of class, however, instructor approval is required before a student can be enrolled in the Internet course.

The only exceptions to semester enrollment are the following "open entry" courses. Open entry means you can start the class any time within the semester BUT must finish the course work by the end of the semester. They are denoted by the ◆ symbol at the end of the course name on the current online course list page on this website.


How much does the course cost?

Whether you are an Arizona resident or out-of-state student, Northland's tuition remains one of the lowest of Arizona community colleges. Click to view current NPC tuition rates. Each Internet course is subject to a course fee ranging from $25 to $75 but not all of them have one. Course fees are listed in the Schedule of Classes. Some online classes also charge an additional fee for the use of electronic textbooks. Those charges will be levied when you first log-in to your online course. NPC also charges a $40 Media Fee per semester for anyone enrolled in 3 or more credits in addition to course fees.


How do I start the course?

After you have received confirmation that you are enrolled in an online course, find your class and instructor on the main Online Courses page. Then Send an email to the instructor. The instructor will contact you with a login ID and password (if necessary), and other helpful information. When checking in with your teacher, include your name, mailing address, course name or number, phone number, including area code, and email address. If you have difficulty contacting an instructor, call toll-free 1-800-266-7845, ask for that instructor's extension and leave a voicemail message.


If I decide to withdraw from the class, can I get a refund?

If, after enrolling, you discover the class is not what you expected, you should complete a Course Change Form at an NPC campus or center. Students out of the NPC service area can call the Records and Registration Office to request a form and instructions for returning the signed request. To avoid a 'W' (grade of withdrawal) on your transcript, be sure to complete the form prior to the fourth week of the semester. See the Academic Calendar for current deadline dates.

  • To receive a 100% refund for an Internet course, a student must officially drop the class within one week of registration and not have initiated any of the Online coursework.
  • A 50% refund is provided if a student has dropped the class within two weeks of registration and has not initiated any of the Online coursework.
  • Refunds are processed by the NPC Business Office, and checks are mailed.
  • Remember that withdrawing from a class may affect your financial aid eligibility. If this applies to you, contact the NPC Financial Aid Office.

What hardware/software do I need?

Requirements will vary and times change. But in general, you'll need:

  1. An IBM compatible computer running Windows 98 or later, or a Macintosh running OS 10.x or later. (Other operating systems are not actively supported, but may work). 64 Mb of RAM in your machine will work, but slowly. Many newer machines have 512 Mb or more, and more equals faster. Similarly, a 133 MHz CPU will probably be sufficient, but it will not be quick.
  2. A sound card and speakers (a microphone may be needed for some courses).
  3. A color monitor capable of displaying a minimum of: 256 colors (16 bit preferred) @ 800 x 600 resolution.
  4. Access to the Internet. Be sure to ask your ISP if they offer a student discount. Also, a minimum 28.8 Kbs modem (56Kbs preferred) or DSL/Cable/Satellite ("broadband") connection.
  5. An e-mail program/account that can send and receive attachments.
  6. At least one Java-capable Web browser (i.e. Microsoft Internet Explorer or higher, or a current version of Firefox.) (It makes sense to have multiple browsers available in case a problem develops while completing an exam or deadline-critical assignment. Be sure to enable all Java/Javascript, set your cache to 'Always Reload' a page, and Allow Popup Windows, where necessary.)
  7. Course-specific software, such as Microsoft Office, Access, or QuickBooks. Your course syllabus will indicate specifics.
  8. Word processing software, such as Word, WordPerfect, or Open Office. Your instructor may require assignments to be turned in using a particular format (such as .doc), and not many will be able to read 'Microsoft Works' files.

Helpful tips:

  • Add your instructor's email address to your address book so emails will be accepted.
  • Anti-virus software, such as Norton or McAfee, is a practical necessity in the current online environment. Set it to automatically scan messages, and be sure to check it regularly for updated virus definitions. Anyone spending serious time online should also educate themselves (at least a little!) on firewalls and anti-spyware.
  • The Blackboard/WebCT home page contains links to its own 'browser tune-up'.

Some courses may require additional browser plug-ins to use, display or print various multimedia files. These are generally free and install quickly on your computer. When downloading, be sure to select the file for your specific operating system and browser. This may mean multiple downloads to keep different browsers supported.

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader lets you read and print files saved in the PDF format.
  • Shockwave Viewer lets you view Shockwave and Flash animations used on many educational sites.
  • There are a variety of free audio and video players available online, each necessary for playing specific kinds of files (though some will play more than one). See, for example, Quicktime and WinAmp.

Many software providers offer discounted Academic/Educational Versions to students. Places to shop for discounts include JourneyEd.com, or SoftwareCity.com

While NPC library and lab computers provide Internet access, these computers may not contain all of the software or services required for a specific Internet course. Students should contact the instructor to verify all hardware and software requirements before starting course work (see also 'Refunds' above).

If you need further computer support you can contact NPC's Computer Support Center by calling (800) 266-7845, ext. 7447 or you can send them an email.

What about a textbook or other course materials?

Textbook requirements vary by course. The syllabus will list all texts, lab kits or software needed for the course. In some cases, texts for online courses are different than those used in on-site classes. These materials can be ordered through the NPC online bookstore (online). Other online sources for purchasing textbooks can also be found through the bookstore link.

For digital textbooks: Locate the information in your textbook, the textbook CD or DVD, or on the textbook publisher's Web that provides the recommended computer specifications to operate the textbook CD or DVD. Compare the textbook recommended specifications with your personal computer specifications.

Windows Only:
  1. To find out if your computer has a CD or DVD player, Left click on Start, then left click My Computer. A screen will display icons for the hard or fixed drives and removable drives. CD and DVD drives are labeled as removable drives.
  2. To confirm that the CD or DVD drive is working properly: right click on the removable drive icon, then left click properties, left click the properties tab and a message will indicate if device is working properly. If the message indicates device is not working properly, clicking on the troubleshoot tab may assist you in repairing the CD or DVD drive. Be sure to check what type of disc is provided by the textbook, CD or DVD. You will not be able to use a DVD disc in a CD disc drive, but you can use a CD disc in a DVD drive. To find out if your computer has sufficient hard drive space for the CD or DVD application software: left click on Start, then left click My Computer. Left click on the hard drive icon (typically the C drive although your computer may have more than one hard drive), then choose properties. The screen will indicate the amount of free space on your computer hard drive. You must have the amount of free space on your hard drive as required by the textbook CD or DVD application.
  3. To find out if your computer meets the type of operating system, the processor speed and random access memory (RAM) requirements as recommended by the textbook CD or DVD: left click on Start, then right click My Computer, and then left click properties. The General System Properties screen will then appear and display the following: Operating System (Windows 95, 98, 2000 or XP); Processor type, such as Pentium 1, 2,3 or 4; and the amount of RAM such as 256k, 512k, 1GB, etc.). If your computer does not meet any of the recommended specifications you may not be able to use the textbook CD or DVD. For further assistance, you may call 800.266.7845, extension 7447.
Mac/Linux/Other Operating Systems:

Follow steps one and two above. Some materials will be listed as Windows-only, and your recourse in that case will be to use the NPC student lab computers for the install. Materials which are cross-platform generally install in the standardized way. For further assistance with alternative OS installations and issues, you may call our computer support center at 800.266.7845, extension 7447.

NPC computers may NOT contain by default all of the software or services required for a specific Internet course. Students should contact the instructor to verify all hardware and software requirements before starting course work (see 'Refunds' above).


Are NPC library resources available to online students?

Students residing near NPC campuses or centers can visit the library during regular business hours. If this is not an option, take advantage of the Library's distance learning support page.


How do I communicate with my instructor and other students?

The majority of communication will be via email. It is the student's responsibility to contact the instructor after enrolling in a course. Email addresses are found via the Online Courses page. The course syllabus will list the instructor's office hours and phone numbers if you need to leave a voice message.

When sending an email message, be sure to place an appropriate phrase in the Subject area so that your instructor will have some idea what the body of the message will contain. Most instructors provide guidance on appropriate Subject areas in their course syllabus. It is also recommended that you include your full name, email address, course name or number, and unit/chapter number within all attached documents.

Some courses use threaded discussions or chat rooms. If so, instructions will be included in the course syllabus.


What about quizzes or exams?

Some instructors use quizzes or exams, while others use other means of assessment. Refer to your syllabus.

If your course requires on-site testing and you live outside of the NPC service area, contact your instructor to arrange for proctored testing.


How do I get a transcript?

Follow the instructions on the Records and Registration page.

No transcript of a student's record will be released until all financial obligations to the college have been satisfied. Please allow one week for processing transcript requests. If grades from an online course are needed immediately for a transcript, please inform your instructor that grades need to be posted as quickly as possible.


What if I cannot complete the course within the allotted timeframe?

A grade of 'Incomplete' (I) may be given for reasons deemed legitimate by the instructor. Your course syllabus includes guidelines for Incompletes. A student receiving an Incomplete has the responsibility of initiating the procedure for removal of the grade. If an Incomplete is not removed within one semester from the end of the semester in which it was awarded, it is automatically converted to a grade of F.


More Questions?

Contact the Internet Registration Clerk via email.