An online course catalogue or your course syllabus should be able to provide you with all of the information you need about required course materials, including textbooks. You will usually have to attain some course materials in order to succeed in your online course. The course materials required for an online class vary by academic institution, degree program and even individual professor.

Course Material Options

Many courses will require you to purchase physical textbooks just as you would have to do for a traditional on-campus class. You may have the option of purchasing e-books to read on a tablet or computer, which can sometimes save money. Other courses require you to download files from the online course’s virtual learning platform and read them in preparation for homework, essays, virtual class discussions and other coursework. Some professors will require you to both buy one or more textbooks and read additional texts that they make available to you online. Depending on your subject of study, you may need to purchase other course materials, such as workbooks, laboratory kits or design software.

It may be tempting to consider looking up course information on the Internet rather than spending the hundreds of dollars it could cost to buy textbooks, especially since you will never have to bring the book to an on-campus class. However, you are better off getting the recommended books to make sure your information is accurate and complete. You will also need access to the actual textbook to complete in-book assignments, such as discussion questions at the end of chapters or math or science problems.

Ways of Obtaining Course Materials

If you are worried about the cost of purchasing textbooks, consider all of your options. Smart shopping decisions can save you a good deal of money. Instead of purchasing the book through your school’s bookstore, you can look into other options, such as purchasing books online from Internet textbook retailers or general online shopping sites. Purchasing e-books is sometimes, but not always, cheaper than purchasing printed copies. Used books are often cheaper than new books. You may also be able to get rent your book through your school or an online retailer, or get your book through a physical or online school or local library.

The Importance of Getting and Using Course Materials

Unlike traditional classes, online classes often provide students with less personal interaction with instructors and fellow students. This isolation can make preparation for an online course, such as actually getting the textbooks and other course materials, difficult for some students, according to U.S. News and World Report. While instructors may provide video or audio lectures or present course material in slideshows, you bear most of the responsibility for learning the information communicated by your textbooks. Having the required textbooks and other course materials is essential for success in any degree program. In the case of an online class, having and using these materials becomes even more important.