Guides to Online Success

For many students, online learning offers some attractive benefits, like convenience and schedule flexibility. For the new online student, these benefits also come with some new and unique challenges. Pima Community College is committed to your success as a student and has assembled the following Guides that may help you find success on your online learning journey.

Guide 1: Time

Even with the benefits of convenience and schedule flexibility, online classes still take time. And online classes are not easier than face-to-face classes. You will need to manage your daily and weekly schedule to meet the different course deadlines. Make sure you carefully review your course calendar (or Schedule of Work) for all relevant due dates and set aside time throughout the week to complete your required class discussions, assignments, assessments, and other related work. Remember: The flexibility of the online learning environment requires that you be self-disciplined about your time management.

Please note: Online does not mean self-paced. Most online courses are not self-paced unless designated as such in the class schedule - you must log in the first day of class and complete assignments and participate according to a schedule set by your instructor.

Guide 2: Technology

Your computer is a critical component of your online class experience. It needs to meet certain minimum requirements and set up in a way that ensures your computer can function properly in the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system.

The Basics

You should have access to a computer that is connected to the Internet to take your online class. Your computer should also be configured properly (see Prepare Your Computer). You should use the Check Browser feature in D2L to verify that your browser settings are correct. Remember: Your browser must have both cookies and Javascript enabled, and disable pop-up blocking software for Brightspace to function properly. If Java is disabled or if your Java Runtime Environment (JRE™) version is unsupported, a warning message will be displayed when you access D2L.

Beyond the Basics

Please be aware that some online classes may contain video and other large multimedia files that may take a while to load on your computer. Therefore, it is strongly suggested that students use a high-speed Internet connection when accessing these courses. Students with bar-coded PCC student identification cards may use computers with high-speed Internet access, located at the Computer Commons at each campus.

You may also need course-specific software and hardware, e.g., Microsoft Windows or PowerPoint, graphics software, a microphone, scanner, or a printer. Be sure to review your course syllabus for a listing of all required course materials.

Guide 3: Tech Support

If you have difficulty logging in or need more information on taking the online portion of your course, request help by sending an email message to or by calling (520) 206-4800, 24/7 availability.

When sending an email or leaving a phone message, please provide the following information in your message:

Remember: Your instructor and your campus Helpdesk personnel are also trained to help you with any technical questions about how to use the system if you come across any difficulties.

Guide 4: Communication

An online course puts an emphasis on written communication between you, your instructor, and your fellow students. You may be expected to read and write discussion postings, participate in a chat session, and compose emails to your instructor and fellow students. To be an effective communicator and contributor to your online class, you should participate frequently and your writing should be organized, clear, and concise. Here are some simple tips to follow when communicating online:

Remember: Don't be afraid to "raise your hand" and let your instructor know if you are experiencing any problems in the class.

Guide 5: Library

The library is a valuable asset to your online class research needs. PCC has campus libraries at five locations throughout the Tucson area. One method to access PCC library resources is through the library tab in MyPima. To borrow materials students need a PCC Student ID card; the PCC Library does not use your A#, but the barcode at the bottom of the Student ID card (a PCC Student ID card is available at any of the campus Cashier’s Offices). If you have a PCC Student ID card from a previous semester, you do not need a new one.

Guide 6: Copyright

Please note: Pima Community College Standard Practice Guide 2701/AA Section 4.11 requires that faculty provide notice to students by prominently placing the following statement in the course syllabus and in a course reading list if it is a separate document from the syllabus.

Notice to Students: Using Copyrighted Materials

Most of the instructional materials you will use in this course are copyright protected. Unless you buy the materials, you cannot download or copy them without the written permission of your instructor or the publisher of the materials.

That includes websites you visit when completing assigned course work. Websites usually contain copyright protected material. Your visit to a website cannot include unauthorized downloading or copying, or attempts to bypass any security on the site or any payment system on the site.

Please understand that there are serious penalties for the unauthorized copying or downloading of copyright protected materials. If you aren’t sure whether you can copy or download materials, please ask your instructor or a librarian.

The PCC Library website hosts an informative Copyright Resources web page that features information on Copyright, Fair Use, the TEACH Act, Creative Commons and Public Domain materials.

Additionally, the PCC Library has created an informative Citing Sources Research Guide that features information on how and why to cite sources and plagiarism.