The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Student FAQ

What is the difference between an online course, a hybrid course and a traditional class?

The simple answer is it varies depending on the instructor. In an online course all of the course content is delivered and evaluated within the course webpage. Most online courses at the University of Arizona are delivered through the Desire to Learn (D2L) course management system.


In an online course, all of your quizzes, papers, discussions and other assignments are done online only.


In contrast, a hybrid course is a course that meets in person and then has some online component.  This can mean that the course meets traditionally, but all assignments and exams are online, or it can mean that there are some live interactions mixed with some online delivery of information. It is important to read the syllabus and determine the level of online vs. in person interaction the course has.


In a traditional class, you attend lectures and or labs, but may still use D2L to turn in assignments and use the gradebook.


Are there set times that online course meet?

This truly depends on the course. Read the syllabus carefully to make sure of requirements. Some faculty require certain periods of online interaction, or have set times when you can do assignments or take tests.


Can you really learn without going to a traditional class?

Yes. There are variations in how much each student gets out of online courses. Keep in mind the online courses are designed to be student centered learning environments. This means the student is responsible for their own learning. Faculty are there to guide you in the learning and point you in the right direction and give you in depth expert information. In the end though, your learning is your responsibility.  Keep in mind that some research shows that when students are actively engaged in an online course, they actually retain more information after the end of the course than in the traditional lecture format.


How do you get to know your faculty and fellow students?

In a traditional lecture course, you may get to know fellow students through group work or sitting near them in class. Getting to know faculty in a lecture course still requires you to make the effort to talk to faculty either during class, after class or during office hours.


In the online environment the level of interaction can vary. Some instructors require live chats, video chats or use discussion boards. In these environments you are often interacting with your fellow students and faculty.


This FAQ is a constantly evolving document. If you have questions that you feel need to be included feel free to make suggestions. Email your questions and suggestions to James Hunt, Ph.D. at .