FAQs: Should I Take Math Online?

Online mathematics classes are popular among FTCC students, but taking an online course in mathematics is different from taking online courses in other subject areas. To determine if an online math class is right for you, consider the following:

  • Are You Willing to Read a Math Textbook?

    Although the mathematics department adopts books that are student-friendly, reading a math textbook is different from reading a literature or history book. When reading a math textbook, you must be an active reader. Take notes on the definitions, concepts, theorems and procedures as you read; look up any symbols and/or vocabulary words that you don’t understand if they are not defined in the current section; work out the examples in the book on your own paper and fill in the missing steps; and jot down any questions you have that are not answered in the reading so that you can ask the instructor for clarification. Understanding a math text requires you to slow down and concentrate on every word. Be willing to reread difficult passages, study any diagrams or charts that accompany the material, and review pre-requisite material needed to understand the current section. Most importantly, read and study the assigned material in the textbook BEFORE you try to complete the homework!

  • Do You Have Time For the Class?

    Taking a math course online will not save you time. If anything, you will find it to be more time-consuming than taking a traditional face-to-face class. You will need to read the lessons, watch videos, type your work, ask questions on a discussion board or by e-mail, and read the instructor’s responses and comments. You must be an active learner, and active learning requires time and effort expended in a consistent manner. You should be willing to devote 2-3 hours a week for every hour that would be spent in a traditional class during the week. You must also be willing to work throughout the week. Most online math courses are not set up as weekend courses and will have assignments and work requirements spread throughout the week.

  • Do You Have Math Anxiety or Strongly Dislike Math?

    If you have math anxiety or a strong dislike for math, taking an online math course may not be your best option. Students with math anxiety or who dislike math may find it difficult to maintain their motivation, ask the questions that they need to ask in order to master a lesson, or participate comfortably in online group discussions or projects. Motivation is key to succeeding in any online course. Fear and anxiety interfere with a student’s ability to concentrate and undermine a student’s confidence in his/her problem-solving abilities. If you suffer from math anxiety and decide to take an online math course, be sure to establish an appropriate support system. This support system might include tutoring from a private source, the Student Learning Center on campus, or through the SmarThinking online tutoring service available to all FTCC students.

  • Do You Understand the Exam Policy?

    The Mathematics Department at FTCC requires students in all mathematics classes to take a proctored final examination using pencil and paper. In addition, most online math classes also require a proctored midterm examination. Students taking online math classes must either travel to FTCC to take their exams or, if they live farther than 50 miles from campus, they may use an approved off-site proctor. Online students who are eligible to use a proctor must make arrangements and seek approval through their course instructors. All online students are required to show picture identification to take their exams.

  • Do You Have the Necessary Equipment and Materials?

    Online mathematics courses at FTCC require purchase of an access code to a publisher-created website such as MyMathLab or WebAssign. These sites are used for completion of homework in the courses and also provide instruction in the form of e-books, video lessons, interactive examples, and review material. Students who purchase a new textbook for their course from the college bookstore automatically receive an access code. Students who purchase a new book from other sources, purchase a used book, or wish to use an e-book instead of a printed book must purchase an access code separately. A standalone access code may be purchased from the college bookstore or purchased online from the textbook publisher.

    In addition to a textbook and/or student access code, your course will require the use of a calculator. Consult the article Which Calculator? under the FAQs section in the right-hand menu on this page to find out the type of calculator that is required or recommended for the course you wish to take.

    All students taking online courses from FTCC must have consistent and reliable access to a recent model computer and to the internet. Students taking online math courses should always have a backup plan in mind in case their primary computer becomes unavailable for some reason. Identify a friend who would be willing to let you use his/her computer. You may also be able to use a computer on campus in the open lab of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) or to use a computer in a public library. Find out the rules and schedules for these services ahead of time. Mathematics courses move at a quick pace and you may not have the luxury of waiting for your primary computer to be fixed or for your home internet service to be restored. In most courses, instructors do not accept late work. Be sure you know your instructor’s policies and are prepared for emergencies.