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Online Learning

Student FAQ

1. How is online learning different?

To get an idea of how online learning is different from traditional education, read the article:

Online vs. Traditional Education: What You Need to Know

2. Can anyone sign up for an online course at Online Learning?

The online courses offered through Online Learning are open to anyone. Individual courses may have unique requirements, prerequisites, or required meetings. Review the Course Information closely before you enroll.

3. Are there required meetings for your online classes?

Although there are no scheduled class meetings for most online classes (read individual course descriptions at Course Information), you must log on to the course a few times a week. Your instructors expect you to log on to the course site weekly, participate in discussions, turn in assignments, and take exams.

4. What kind of internet connection is needed?

You must have regular, reliable internet access if you are to succeed in your course. A 56K modem is the minimum acceptable speed, and cable or DSL are strongly recommended for all courses and required for some, particularly those making extensive use of multimedia like video and PowerPoint files. Satellite Internet connections often experience problems with Canvas courses and are not recommended. Current, detailed system requirements for Canvas courses can be obtained from the Canvas guides. Make sure you have a back-up plan (use of a campus, library, work, or a friend's system) in case you experience problems with your own computer or your Internet Service Provider.

5. Are the online courses self-paced?

No. Our online courses have set schedules, weekly deadlines, and beginning and ending dates. They are instructor-led. You will not be left alone. If you have special needs and must follow a slower (or faster) pace, please discuss your situation with the course instructor. He/She may be able to alter course deadlines to accommodate your needs. Our online instructors are dedicated professionals who are very interested in your success. They are the heart of our online courses.

6. Are online courses transferable?

Yes. Many of our online classes are transferable.

For details check with your academic advisor.

7. Can I complete a course earlier or later than the specified time?

No. Our online courses are not self-paced. Due dates for coursework and assignments are set by each instructor. Some instructors may allow students to complete and submit work earlier. Please contact your instructor for more information on schedule variations.

8. What if I need to have adaptive software or equipment to access the Internet?

Students with disabilities often require adaptive software and hardware to access the Internet or to use with word processing programs. If you have special needs, you are welcome to use the computers in the Computer Access Center, as needed to complete assignments for your online courses. Getting access to adaptive tools OUTSIDE the Foothill Campus is the responsibility of each student. Your local agency may be able to assist you in identifying and/or acquiring such tools.

Note: For accommodations due to a disability, please inform your online instructor within the first week of the quarter so that he/she can work out any special arrangements needed.

9. What if I start a class and decide it is just not appropriate for me?

Please feel free to drop an online class if you feel it is not appropriate for you. As a courtesy to the instructor, notify him/her via email that you will drop his/her course.

For more information, please refer to How to Drop a Course.

10. Do I need to apply to the college before I can register for an online class?

Yes. To Apply & Register, follow the steps outlined by Foothill College Admissions & Records. If you plan on taking an English or Math class, you will need to make arrangements to take the assessment test (at Foothill College or another institution) prior to registering. All this information is explained at Apply & Register.

11. Do I need to buy a textbook for my online class?

Most of our classes (online or traditional) require textbooks. Please refer to the course descriptions for information on materials and textbooks for your course.

You may purchase the textbooks on campus or online from: Foothill College Bookstore

12. How do I know if I am the "right" type for this mode of learning?

People learn in different ways and at different rates. Some students enjoy listening to lectures, others draw concepts in their notebooks, yet others enjoy working in small groups. Visual learners tend to do best in online courses. Others learn to adapt. Find out about your learning preference by taking the following questionnaire:


Learning Styles Inventory
(Developed by Barbara A. Soloman, North Carolina State University)

To find out if you are ready to be an online learner by completing our Readiness Assessment.

Be sure to also review the information provided in Get Started.

13. How about fees and residency requirements? Are fees the same as in-class courses? Are CA residency requirements (for fee purposes) the same as with regular classes?

There is no difference between the tuition and fees for online and traditional classes. These are mandated by the State. Information about other student fees is posted on the Student Fees webpage. CA residency requirements (for fee purposes) are the same for regular classes and online classes.

Many fees are mandated by the State and most cannot be waived at this time. The Campus Center Use Fee can be waived for students who only enroll into online classes with no on-site meeting and who live outside of the district service area. Hybrid classes are not eligible for the off campus center fee waiver. The Student ID Card Fee and Student Representation Fee are not required and are voluntary. Students will not be eligible to obtain an owl card if they opt out the Student Body Fee. For more fee waivers information or submit your fee waivers request, please visit:

Student Fees and Tuition

14. Can I get my Campus Center Use Fee reduced?

If all your classes are online, you can request a Campus Center Use Fee reduction. Information about student fees is posted on:

Explanation of Student Fees & Fee Schedule page

Refer to the section on Fee Waivers and Reduction.

15. What is academic dishonesty?

Foothill College has an Academic Honor Code that addresses academic dishonesty, especially cheating and plagiarism. It is every student's responsibility to know what constitutes academic dishonesty. If you have any questions, ask your instructor, division dean or the Office of Student Affairs & Activities at (650) 949-7241.

Academic Honor Code

16. What is my Collegewide ID?

Collegewide ID (CWID) is your student identification number. It is a college-wide identification number (8 digits) that can be used in place of your Social Security number. We encourage you to use your Collegewide ID to conduct college transactions, including registration, fee payment, transfer requests, and many other services that require identification. More information about your Collegewide ID (CWID) is available in the MyPortal FAQ.

  • If you do not know your campuswide ID (CWID), open an Internet browser and go to: MyPortal then, click on the "What is my campuswide ID?" link in the Secure Login area.
  • To get your CWID and reset your Password, click the "I Don't Know My Password" link. This process will send your CWID and temporary password to you by e-mail.

All students use MyPortal ( to register for classes. All you need to know is your Collegewide ID. You'll use a temporary password to login the first time. To be prepared, see the First-time Login Guide for more information.

17. How can I clear a prerequisite hold?

You can take the placement test for chemistry, English, ESL, or math. If you have coursework from another college, in addition to providing a copy of your transcript (unofficial is acceptable), you will need to complete the online Prerequisite Clearance Form.

See Ways to Clear a Prerequisite for more information.

18. What should I do if I have a concern about my instructor?

If you have complaints about academic issues, you should seek to resolve the problem informally by speaking with these people in this order:

  1. Instructor of the class
  2. Division Dean (schedule an appointment through the division's administrative assistant)
  3. The Vice President who oversees that division

If no resolution is obtained informally, you make seek formal action by calling the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs & Activities at (650) 949-7241.

19. What if my instructor wants me to take a proctored test but I don't live near Foothill College?

If you do not live in the Bay Area and need proctored testing, check the following site for the location of an assessment center nearby: National College Testing Association (NCTA).

For more details, see Testing Services.

20. How can I log into an online course if I am on the Wait List?

Students on waiting lists will NOT be able to login to online courses until about one day AFTER they are officially enrolled. If the class you want is full before the session starts view the Registration guide:

Getting on a Waitlist

21. How can I enroll or add a fully online course AFTER the quarter has started?

You can add courses via MyPortal during the first two weeks of the Fall, Winter and Spring quarters and during the first week of the Summer quarter only.

See instructions to Request Add Code.

22. How do I get wireless access to the Internet while I'm on campus?

Foothill College offers wireless access in nearly all classrooms and indoor public spaces.

For access information, see Wireless Access @ Foothill College.


View the campus WiFi map to find all of the WiFi hotspots on campus.

23. How can I get technical help with my online course?

First contact your instructor to see if they can advise you.

Next, if the issue is related to Canvas, call the Canvas Hot Line or submit a help desk ticket. How do I get help with Canvas?

For technical problems with MyPortal, please submit the form at:
Admissions and Records Help Form.


The Student Technology Support Hub is a great source for help. It's designed by students for students, and it has Live Chat with student Technology Ambassadors. These are fellow students who can help troubleshoot your technical issues and point you to resources you may not be aware of.

For other help with your online course, contact the office of Online Learning at

24. Can I share copyrighted material my instructor gives to me?

In some courses, copyrighted materials (e.g., readings, videos, pictures, or other assets) are provided to students or used as a part of the educational delivery. Students are advised to not share or otherwise distribute these copyright materials outside of the online course.

25. How can I access Canvas if I am in a country with a firewall?

If you are in China, North Korea, Jakarta, Indonesia, Cuba, or other middle east Asian countries you may have difficulty accessing Canvas or links to learning materials in our courses.

If you are not able to access links to videos and other material within the course, let the instructor know so that they can provide alternative solutions.

If you are in China, it may be possible to use a VPN to bypass the restrictions. Some articles recommend that users buy VPNs that are hosted outside China, not within China to make sure the VPN works.

26. Online classes are listed as TBA or TBD. When do I have to “attend” my online class? What’s my schedule?

Online classes are traditionally listed as TBA/TBD in the Class Schedule. The course will be conducted according to the instructor’s specifications about how she/he structures the course.

If you need more specific information about any required login times or possible scheduling conflicts with your own schedule, or if the instructor has an in-person requirement for an online class, you will need to contact the instructor directly for more information and about a possible online alternative to any in-person requirement they may have indicated.

If you need to find an instructor's contact information you can search for it in the  Campus Directory ( .

Also, most faculty use the standard Foothill College email, which is <last name first name at>. Therefore, Professor Jane Doe's email would be

If for some reason the standard Foothill email address is incorrect, you will need to check with the instructor's academic division for her/his current contact information.

27. How do I know I’m signing up for an online class versus a hybrid class?

Here is some information that may be helpful in distinguishing between online and hybrid courses in the Class Schedule listings (

In the Class Schedule, online courses are indicated with an “arrow” ("⇒ Online"). Refer to the “Symbol Legend” and top of page for details.

Also for your information when looking at the Class Schedule, online courses at Foothill College are indicated with the letter “W” at the end of the Course ID number. (Ex. ACTG 001A.01W).

Hybrid courses at Foothill College are indicated with the letter “Y” at the end of the Course ID number (Ex. ACTG 001A.01Y). Hybrid courses do have an on campus component that will require you to attend class on campus.

On campus/in person courses have no letter at the end of the course section (Ex. ACTG 001A.01)

Some information on this webpage was adapted from Maricopa Center for Learning & InstructionIllinois Online Network, Rio Hondo CC, and the California Community College Distance Learning Consortium.

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