Online vs. In-Person Learning

During the COVID-19 disruption to classes, there will be many adjustments and unanticipated changes. This information is intended to help support students during these transitions. Any students wishing to talk more about active learning strategies may make a Zoom, phone or email consultation.

What do I need for online learning?

  • a computer / laptop for your assignments
  • high speed internet connection, preferably 4 mbps minimum download speed
    • you can check your download speed at
  • a webcam and headset / speakers and microphone for videoconferencing
  • while you may be able to get by with a phone for listening to lectures, it may not be sufficient for assignments or online proctored tests

How can I get help with BU’s supported online learning platforms?

  • Moodle is BU’s Learning Management System
  • Some courses will be using MS Teams
  • Most courses will be using Zoom for videoconferencing and the HelpDesk has a guide to help you

First, recognize that you, your classmates and your professors will all be making ongoing adjustments. Being flexible, patient and open to changes will help everyone work together. Second, without the structure of classes, you will need to create structure for yourself in order to succeed as an online or distance learner. In online or distance learning, making a study schedule will be even more important.

Online or distance classes are just as intellectually challenging as on-campus courses. If you are taking online classes, you may find that your professors or classmates seem distant, or that more written communication skills are required or that your ability to motivate yourself to work independently is challenged. Each week we will address one of these new challenges with suggestions for success!

Differences between in-person and online courses

In-Person Online
Usually multiple sessions in a classroom per week, encouraging spaced or distributed practice. One video per week or every few weeks.  No time in class to complete work. A stack of asynchronous videos may lead to low motivation and increased procrastination.
Lecture, in-class discussions, small group work, and activities or participation tasks. Online modules with a range of course materials to review.  Independent learning is required. Make a study plan using your course outlines.
Readings completed prior to lectures.  Paying attention to learning objectives important. Readings completed as indicated on module or course syllabus.  Using study questions can be helpful for reducing the need to re-read texts.
Some assignments may be completed in-class.  Written and oral communication may be assessed. Most assignments will be completed online.  More emphasis on written communication and time management.
Office hours and in-person or informal discussions before or after class or at a scheduled day or time. Office hours held by appointment through web conference, email or phone.  Learn email etiquette for communicating effectively with your professors.