eLearning FAQs

eLearning FAQs

What programs offer hybrid or fully online courses?

Most classes in the following programs have an online component:

San Diego Massage Therapist/Asian Bodywork Certificate
San Diego Associate of Applied Science (Holistic Health Science) (AAS)
San Diego Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (DACM)

Massage techniques classes always meet on campus. However, quizzes and practice logs are completed online. Most general education classes in the Associate of Science program (for example, English Composition) are only available online. All other classes are offered in both campus or online/hybrid sections every term. Online doctoral classes are mostly live online events where attendance is required at specified times.

How do students interact with each other and the teacher?

In the massage programs, discussion forums are the primary form of student-student and faculty-class interaction in fully online classes and in hybrid classes during weeks when there are no on-campus meetings. There are other forms of interaction in some classes (e.g., blogs, group assignments), but forums are the most common. Forums center around questions created by the course developer that are meant to provoke debate and dialog. They are usually organized with deadlines for initial post, responses, and final comments. However, because they are asynchronous, students can participate at any point up to the deadline. Using forums is as easy as posting a status update or comments on a Face-book page. You can even add attachments, just like in an email. Online forums usually take place every week in a fully online course. In hybrid classes during weeks where the class meets on campus, forums are typically just a follow-up on a discussion that started in class. In fully online weeks, they are more demanding and typically require as much time as the student would have spent in the classroom that week.


In the doctoral programs, the primary form of interaction is in the form of live webinars. Weekly synchronous class meetings may include live presentations by faculty, guest speakers, whole-class discussion, small group breakout activities, interactive polls, oral presentations by students, and videos. Students interact with faculty and students via text chat, microphones, and webcams. Attendance and participation in class is monitored and required. Recordings of all webinars are made available in the LMSbut not a substitute for class attendance.  

What is the difference between a hybrid and fully online class?

Hybrid Courses: Students spend up to 50% of their time in a classroom environment and the remainder in an asynchronous online setting.
Fully Online Courses: Students spend 100% of their time in an asynchronous online setting.

From Wikipedia:

Asynchronous learning is a student-centered teaching method that uses online learning resources to facilitate information sharing outside the constraints of time and place among a network of people. Asynchronous learning is based on constructivist theory, a student-centered approach that emphasizes the importance of peer-to-peer interactions. This approach combines self-study with asynchronous interactions to promote learning, and it can be used to facilitate learning in traditional on-campus education, distance education, and continuing education. This combined network of learners and the electronic network in which they communicate are referred to as an asynchronous learning network.

The online learning resources used to support asynchronous learning include email, electronic mailing lists, threaded conferencing systems, online discussion boards, wikis, and blogs. Course management systems such as CampusCruiser LMS, Blackboard, WebCT, Moodle, and Sakai, have been developed to support online interaction, allowing users to organize discussions, post and reply to messages, and upload and access multimedia. These asynchronous forms of communication are sometimes supplemented with synchronous components, including text and voice chat, telephone conversations, videoconferencing, and even meetings in virtual spaces such as Second Life, where discussions can be facilitated among groups of students.

What types of online lecture materials are available?

In classes that are primarily synchronous, lectures are delivered live by the professor in most weeks. Synchronous classes often include some asynchronous content as well. All live lectures are recorded for future review.

Online presentation materials are available every week in asynchronous online and hybrid courses. They may include a mixture of original content created by PCOM professors as well as premium educational content selected from websites such as the MIT Open Courseware and the Khan Academy as well as companies like McGraw-Hill and Pearson. It is important to understand that the primary teacher-student interaction in our fully online classes is no longer presentation of content but rather engagement with students on that content. Since our fully online teachers no longer lecture in the classroom, they are expected to spend the same amount of time (typically three hours) per week engaging with students in the forums.

The primary forms of original content created for Pacific College eLearning courses are recorded lectures and video demonstrations.

Lectures are typically presented as “slides” with audio narration. The lectures are typically designed to complement other required sources of information, such as textbooks, CDs, DVDs, and publisher websites. They are usually brief presentations focusing on key points that are designed to give the student an overview of the week’s topic and available resources. It is important to understand that just watching the online lectures is usually not sufficient to be able to successfully complete all the assignments in the class. Lectures are not comprehensive and are designed to complement other materials, such as textbook readings. The courses have been designed to require the same time commitment as campus classes. However, the nature of that commitment is different. In fully online classes, the bulk of the interaction with the professor takes place in the discussion forums.

If a course involves the learning of massage or other techniques, comprehensive video demonstrations are sometimes provided. An expert PCOM professor is the "star" of all the video demos. Demonstrations of techniques are still given during class meetings. However, students are expected to view the online demos before class and will have the material available to reference for their practice sessions between class meetings.

Do the classes involve live chat or conferencing?

The primary form of interaction in our doctoral programs is live video conferencing.

However, for the massage programs, the required online components of Pacific College courses are always asynchronous, which means they do not ever require students to be in the same place at the same time.

If a teacher wants to set up a live chat, students can attend if they are able. The sessions will be recorded for viewing by those who could not attend. However, because the sessions are never required, they are not considered essential to success in the course. They fit into the general realm of “extra help,” which includes things ranging from virtual office hours to virtual tutoring.

Is there a time limit that I have to be logged into my classes?

There are minimum expectations for how much time a student spends working outside the classroom that apply to online, on-ground, and hybrid courses. The courses are designed so the typical students will have to meet these minimum expectations in order to succeed. However, individual students may spend more or less time online, depending on their prior knowledge and other factors. So, satisfactory completion of the course is primarily based upon the quality and quantity of work completed rather than hours logged into the learning management system.

Do I have access to the textbook online?

Electronic versions of many textbooks are available. However, they are often a separate purchase. A student could choose to buy either a hard copy text, an online one, or both. Sometime, a single purchase of a text includes access to an electronic version at no extra charge. The school library also has an extensive collection of electronic texts, both in the areas of general education and Oriental medicine. These are typically not required texts, but they provide an excellent resource for supplemental information.

Are there specific days or times to be online or are the courses self-paced?

Synchronous webinars take place on a regular class meeting schedule. Usually weekly throughout the term.

For asynchronous classes, there are specific days when assignments are due. Students can pace themselves up to the deadline. For example, most written assignments and quizzes must be taken by Sunday or before the next class meets on campus. However, students can take it any time they are ready to do so before the deadline.

Is there a time and day that I have to log into my classes?

Attendance is required at live webinars. Students can miss up to 25% of the class meetings.

All students are expected to log into an eLearning course the week before the course starts, at least once a day during the week (including the first day of the first week of the term), and any time that logging on is necessary to meet a deadline. Discussions usually have posting requirements at three different points. Most other assignments are due on Sunday before midnight (e.g., essays, quizzes, etc.). Some classes may require work in progress to be posted for peer review prior to submitting the assignment for a grade at the end of the week (e.g., a clinical treatment plan).

How is participation monitored? What is the requirement?

75% “attendance” is required in the online class. Attendance in asynchronous classes refers to “showing up” for online interactions with other students and the professor. This typically takes place in online discussion forums, blog assignments, and group assignments. Synchronous classes meet in real time as live webinars.

Are there exams/quizzes done online as well as in the classroom?

Most quizzes and exams are done online. Some exams, such as practical demonstrations, are done on campus.

Are assignments submitted online?

 All assignments that can be submitted online are.

Can I have the option to complete the classes at the campus?

100% of all massage techniques classes take place on campus.

Many applied general education courses in the massage programs are currently offered in both campus and hybrid and/or online sections. (Applied general education courses include those such as Anatomy and Physiology, Biomedical Pathology, and Introduction to kinesiology.)

Most general education classes are only available in the hybrid and/or fully online format. (General education courses include those such as English Composition, Business Math, and Basic Nutrition).

Are there any extra fees to take the eLearning Courses?


How can I make up an assignment?

If submission of a written assignment is missed (e.g., a case study report or lab report or paper), it is handled the same way it would be in an on-campus course. It is up to the professor to allow the submission of late work. Quizzes can be taken at any point in the week up until the final deadline, so, typically, there would need to be a documented family emergency to be excused from taking it on time. Since all the online interactions (forums, blogs, etc.) are asynchronous, there is generally not a good reason to miss them, either.

Do students submit assignments online or in person?

If they can be submitted online, they are submitted online.

If the professor is not available, who can I reach out to?

The professor is required to be available within 24 hours of a request for help. If the student need is for tasks typically handled by student services staff, the same support personnel are available. The helpdesk is also available to handle any technical issues related to the college’s infrastructure but not for troubleshooting students’ personal computers or software. In the rare circumstance where a student is unable to complete an assignment because they did not receive the necessary help from the professor or support staff in time, they will not be held responsible. However, if a student waits until 11:55 on a Sunday to ask for help on something that needs to be completed at 11:59, he or she can’t expect a reply in time. This underscores that students have to manage their time very well to succeed in the online environment. That is why they are expected to log in every day to check for announcements and reminders.

What is the availability of instructors for questions during online weeks?

24 hour turnaround time for ALL weeks, online or not.

Are hybrid and fully online courses transferable or accepted for licensing?

In approved programs, they are treated the same as on ground courses. For massage programs, PCOM meets the on campus requirements for hands-on courses mandated by NCBTMB.

Is there a tech support center/person available for students to contact?

Yes. It’s the same as for ground students. Online technical support requests are responded to within an hour during normal weekly business hours and within a day over weekends.

Where can I go for Tech Support during business hours and after hours?

Pacific College eLearning Support tickets, which are placed via email, are checked regularly, even outside normal business hours. You can access technical support in both MyPCOM and Pacific College College eLearning. You can also go directly to the support portal at support.pacificcollege.edu

If I miss an online class, is the class archived?

All online class materials are available throughout the term. Recordings are made of all synchronous class meetings.

Does missed participation count as an absence for the course?

Students must satisfactorily participate in 75% of the interactive online activities. Interactive online activities are assignments where students engage with each other in a group online. They are considered the replacement for some or all of the hours normally spent in the classroom. Examples include webinar breakout room activities, discussion forums, blogs, and group assignments. Interactive online activities DO NOT include individual assignments like papers or completion of quizzes. Failure to complete individual assignments will adversely impact one's grade but has no bearing on attendance requirements.

How is the online component weighted relative to the overall grade in the class?

It varies from class to class. All quizzes and exams might be given online, so that could end up being over 50% of the grade. All classes have online discussions that could range from 10-30% of the grade. Most other work is “homework’ and is treated the same as it would be in a 100% campus course.

How are on-campus meetings used in a hybrid class if all the lecture and demonstration materials are available online?

On-campus class meetings are typically used for practicing skills, discussion, active learning assignments, questions, and such things.

How do you teach practical techniques in an online/hybrid course?

There will be video demonstrations of all practical skills. Students are expected to watch the videos before attending the class where they are practiced. During on-campus class meetings, there will be reviews of the demos viewed on the videos. The bulk of the class will be used for students practicing on each other. Students will also be expected to practice what they learned in class regularly between classes and to keep a journal of their work. Some classes expect daily practice (like Qi Gong). Others expect journal logs 1-3 times per week. Journals entries are posted in online student blogs that are accessible only to other class members, and students are expected to give constructive feedback to their peers.

What are the technology requirements to take these courses?

The technology requirements for online courses are the same as the general technology requirement for all students that are listed in the course catalog (see catalogs and catalog addendums).

When/how are these courses scheduled?

Fully online synchronous classes meets as live webinars weekly on a normal class schedule

Fully online asynchronous courses have no scheduled meetings. However, there are assignments due at various points during each week.

Hybrid massage techniques classes meet weekly for reduced hours.

Hybrid versions of oriental medicine, applied general education, and general education courses either meet for reduced hours each week or for regular hours on alternate weeks.

Is there training? If so, when is it? And, can I get refreshers/additional training, if necessary? Who do I go to for this training?

All new students complete a Technology Training course,

I have heard that hybrid and online courses have work in them that is not required for campus courses and that hands-on practice time is reduced compared to campus courses. Is that true?

Pacific College online and campus courses are required to be equivalent in the amount and difficulty of assigned work and time spent in a group setting (whether the classroom or an online forum or blog). The amount of hours allocated to classroom practice is identical in both formats. There will be differences in some of the work assigned in a class with online components, but the exact same topics will be covered and requirements for reading and test-taking will be identical. Achievement of the same exact learning objectives is expected. An example of how an assignment might differ is in the use of online tools to create massage journal entries and generate discussion about each other’s practice. In the on-campus version of the same course, the teacher might use a standard written log instead. Either way, the total requirements for massage practice, journaling, and group interaction are identical.

What are the benefits to taking hybrid and fully online courses?

There are a number of advantages to the hybrid and fully online formats for students:

  • Flexibility in balancing life/work/education.
  • More opportunities for interaction with professors and classmates. Online discussion forums and postings allow more in-depth conversations with more people than would be possible in a traditional class. There is also more time to reflect over answers to discussion questions.
  • Different types of learning activities to accommodate different learning preferences (e.g., blogging, video, podcasting, wikis, etc.).
  • Discussions started in class are continued online and online interaction often carries over into the traditional face-to-face classes.
  • Integration of out-of-class activities with in-class activities allows for more effective use of traditional class time.
  • Many students who rarely take part in class discussions feel more comfortable participating online.
  • Instructors report that students wrote better papers, performed better on exams, produced higher quality projects, and were capable of more meaningful discussions on course material when reflecting online.
  • Courses are more student-centered. Students structure their own online learning, and face-to-face classes are focused on active learning rather than lectures and note taking (discussion, peer review, case studies, games, etc.)
  • Improvement of various computer skills, including advanced use of browsers and other web-based applications and designing search parameters.
  • The increased requirement to communicate in written form improves writing and critical thinking skills, as well as professional communication etiquette.
  • More opportunities to interact with course materials and resources, leading to greater engagement and enhanced opportunities for success.
  • Increased skills in self-directed learning leading to greater learner autonomy.