Office of Distance Learning

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How does it work?


FSU follows a semester schedule and online courses fall into one of the categories listed below. Pay close attention to the Time or Location Requirements descriptor associated with each program or course before applying.

  • Asynchronous instructional activities allow students to complete coursework at their own schedule within the parameters of the instructor's syllabus. In most cases, this means that course activities and assignments can be completed at any time during a given week of the course, rather than at a specific class meeting time. Most FSU online courses are asynchronous.
  • Synchronous instructional activities require students to log on at a certain time and day for real-time discussions or lectures.
  • Mixed courses require some face-to-face presence.

Technical requirements

Participation in an FSU online course requires:

  • regular and frequent access to a computer that is less than 5 years old, speakers (or headphones) and printing capabilities
  • reliable Internet connectivity and a compatible browser
  • an FSUID
  • additional technological requirements as noted in course syllabi or via instructor communication

Online Community

Academic Coordinators, instructors, mentors and other students contribute to the online learning experience.

Academic Coordinators

Students seeking degrees online are provided with personalized "degree roadmaps" that are developed specifically for them by FSU departmental Academic Coordinators. Coordinators act as advisors and also

  • make course selection recommendations
  • provide advice regarding course equivalency substitutions, prerequisites, and academic requirements (university, school/college and department)
  • monitor student progress


The instructor (who likely teaches the same course in face-to-face format) has full responsibility for the course. Faculty members ensure that course content and materials reflect current standards within the discipline and that grading is consistent. Faculty members create learning opportunities through:

  • explicit instruction on goals of the course
  • a schedule to follow in completing course activities
  • access to expertise in the content area
  • instruction organized into activities
  • guidance in completing activities and assignments

Instructors may schedule specific telephone office hours or specific times within a chat room when groups of students may go online to have questions answered. Instructors also respond through threaded discussions or individual E-mail, and they make general announcements through the course website. Contact information is available in the syllabus or in the "contacts" area of the course site.


Some online degree programs use the assistance of mentors, who act as online teaching assistants and learning facilitators. Mentors support student progress by fulfilling several roles:

  • as a learning coach -- clarifying course content and providing feedback
  • as a communicator -- contacting students regularly regarding progress


Other students in the course add value to the online experience. Contact with other students may be through group projects, discussion boards, chat rooms, or E-mail.

Course Delivery

All online courses at FSU are delivered through the FSU home of the Canvas learning management system. students are able to access Canvas by clicking on the Canvas icon after logging into 

Within individual course sites, menus usually feature prominent links to the course syllabus, which outlines assignments, exams, instructions and expectations. Other areas of the course site might contain lecture materials, readings, linked documents and websites, discussion forums, and other learning tools. In many cases, the instructor will provide an introductory video that helps students see how everything is organized.

Just as with a face-to-face course, an online course might require that some things be done independently while others be done in conjunction with the instructor or other students.

During the semester, instructors may post assignment grades to the Grades page in Canvas, which is found in the navigation menu once inside of the course site, as well as clicking the View Grades on the right side of the Dashboard. 


Student assessment may be done online within Canvas, or via proctored exams at an external site. Instructors are required to notify students of proctored exam requirements by the first day of the semester, and must also provide direction to the proper resource for making proctor arrangements within the course syllabus. Read Tests & Test-taking for more on proctored exams for distance learners.

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