Online college classes work by allowing students to access lessons, submit assignments and receive grades all through the Internet, often without having to step foot on campus at all. Students who are new to online learning might wonder what kind of lectures they should expect in an online environment. Online college lectures can take many forms, from videotaped versions of traditional lectures to interactive forms of learning.

“Traditional” Lectures for Online Learners

Some online college course lectures are similar to what students would expect to find in a traditional classroom. In fact, some are just that – classroom lectures that students must watch streamed live, in real-time. Other times, the professor may videotape himself or herself presenting an oral lecture and then send or upload it so that students can view the video lecture at their convenience, at any time of day or night. Instead of making a video, other professors create and send students a slideshow presentation to watch and read. Even among these seemingly traditional types of lectures, some of them vary greatly from what students might expect to encounter in a traditional classroom. For example, some professors deliver their lectures as podcasts that students can listen to but don’t require them to keep their eyes on a screen. Some of the videos used in online learning are less lectures and more how-to tutorials, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Making Online Lectures Interactive

Other lectures in online college classes are more interactive. Students may have to respond to questions or prompts either online or over the phone during the lecture, according to The New York Times, while others make the lecture almost like a game, with students needing to complete assignments to earn points. Still other online lectures require virtual class discussions, where students must have substantive conversations about the course material.

What Not to Expect

In some ways, online college lectures can be better than traditional lectures. Because these lectures are often planned in advance and uploaded or sent as a video, podcast, or slideshow, you won’t have to worry about distractions like fellow students chattering or background noise while you’re trying to concentrate on the lesson. Professors are less likely to get off-topic and end up not covering the material you need to know, and you won’t have to listen to any long-winded tangents, according to Daily Freeman News. Because you can often cover course material on your own time, you may be able to review video, audio or slideshow lectures if you need more time to understand the material.

Lessons are as important for covering the course material in online college classes as they are in traditional classes, but the format of lectures can vary radically by school and even by instructor. Expect lectures in your online class to expose you to a variety of learning styles, and take the time to make the most of each lecture, no matter how it’s presented.