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Frequently Asked Questions for Online Classes

What are the advantages of taking classes online?

Convenience and flexibility are the most common reasons for taking online classes. Taking classes online is ideal for someone who wants to continue working while earning a doctor of physical therapy degree. Online classes allow you to fit school into your schedule when it works best for you.

How much time should I expect to spend on one class every week?

The time you spend on a class can vary. No two instructors will format their classes exactly the same. Plan to spend 6-15 hours per week on a class depending on the number of credits. The number of credits per class varies by course.

Are lectures available online?

Some instructors post lectures online. Lectures are not always audio or visual. Sometimes they are provided as a PowerPoint or text document. Online classes are delivered using a learning management system, called Desire2Learn. Students log into Desire2Learn, and can click on any of their course sites. Once a student is in their course site, they can access lectures, PowerPoints, documents, videos, links, discussion boards and the place where assignments are submitted (called a dropbox).

How do I interact with the professor?

Students interact with their professor in a number of different ways. First, the online class is created and explained through the instructor’s lecture information. Then, students discuss topics in the discussion board, where their professor and peers provides insight, guidance and feedback. Students and the instructor also communicate through private assignment correspondence within the course site or via email. Sometimes instructors arrange for a class chat, either using a conference call or an instant message system. In addition, instructors are available for students to make appointments to meet or to call.

Is there interaction with other online students?

There is quite a bit of interaction between other students. Some classes have group projects. There are also online discussion forums.

Are there group projects with online classes?

Group projects are often a part of online classes. Students are grouped together, given a topic to investigate, and work together electronically to accomplish their goals. Often, groups prepare and give PowerPoint presentations electronically by emailing each other draft versions, and then posting the final product to the student discussion board. Students are often divided into groups or learning communities to discuss questions or cases developed by the faculty. By dividing students into small groups (versus entire class) the faculty can facilitate students getting to know each other better and achieve a higher level of interconnectivity.

What are assignments like?

Assignments are critical in nature. They are similar to on-campus assignments and require reading the book, completing questions, writing papers, posting to the bulletin board, reviewing other materials and research.

What is a typical schedule for an online class?

Each course is 8 weeks long. The syllabus outlines the requirements for the course. Students typically have several due dates a week where they post a response to a question or assignment and then later respond to other students posts. Quizzes and tests are also completed on line.

What are some of the challenges when taking online classes?

One of the keys to being a successful online student is self discipline. Because you are not required to be in class at a specific time you have to be motivated to get the work done on your own. If you have a family and/or a full-time job while you are taking online classes it is important that you establish schedule of when and how you will get your work done.

If you don’t understand an assignment it is important to ask questions for clarification so you don’t fall behind. Instructors make themselves available to students via e-mail, discussions boards and conference calls.

How are online classes graded?

Online courses are graded just like classroom courses. High-level critical thinking is required, and students leave the course with an understanding of the subject and an ability to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting. Standard assignments include reading the course text and additional materials, active participation in online discussions, quizzes or tests, writing papers etc.

Are tests available online?

Yes. Many instructors assign tests in their online classes. Students may sign an ethical agreement saying they will not copy or share their exam, and that the person taking the test is the person registered for the course. Tests may be timed, and do not typically allow for open-book responses. Learn more about DMU’s Integrity Code.

Do I need a proctor for my exams?

Typically exams are given through the Desire2Learn Learning Management System and don’t require a proctor.  However, exams may need to be proctored as determined by your instructor.

Can my spouse help with assignments?

No. Assignments, exams and all course material must be completed by the enrolled student. If for some reason you lose access to the required technology to complete your work, we ask that you find alternate resources and contact your advisor immediately. Learn more about DMU’s Integrity Code.

How are online classes different than on-campus classes?

Online classes are different from on-campus classes primarily in the way that students and the instructor interact. In an online class, students communicate using the weekly discussion board, course mail or instant messaging. Online classes require students to post their thoughts and ideas or research in written format, versus a verbal discussion in the physical on-campus classroom.

Do online classes require extra work?

Online classes require students to engage in a course in a different way than on-campus courses. In an on-campus course, students know they will read, write papers, take tests and meet once a week in a classroom for four hours. In an online class, students will read, write papers, take tests and engage using a written medium. Students in an online class need to budget the same amount of time as students in a classroom, or 2-3 hours per week of learning/classroom time plus 4-12 hours per week of outside classroom time. Sometimes students find it difficult to self-manage this amount of time without a weekly classroom discussion.

Are online classes self-paced or scheduled?

The online classes in the PPDPT program have a specific start and stop date along with due dates for assignments. The PPDPT program courses are not self paced.

Can I start online classes at anytime?

Students can start classes at the beginning of any session. See our course calendar for module start dates.

What are the application deadlines for online classes?

We accept applications year-round. There are no application deadlines. Learn more about application requirements.

Will my degree state that it’s from an online program?

No, your diploma will not state that our program is online. Your diploma and transcripts will list your D.P.T. degree earned from Des Moines University-Osteopathic Medical Center in Des Moines, IA.

What if I have technical difficulties?

The student help desk is available to address technical problems students may encounte
r with online classes. The web-based instruction system is compatible with PC and Macintosh computers, although the PC format is preferred. Mac users may experience some limited functions within the DMU student Pulse and may need to save documents and presentations in formats compatible with the current Microsoft Office Suite for the PC.

Do I have to know much technology to be successful?

You don’t have to be a computer expert to enroll in online classes, but you should be comfortable using a computer and know how to use the Internet for coursework. Check out the complete list of technology requirements.

What kind of computer do I need to take online classes?

The web-based instructional system is compatible with both PC and Macintosh computers, but PCs are preferred. See a full list of technology and computer requirements.

If I don’t have internet access, can I still enroll in classes?

To take online classes you must have access to the internet, whether in your home or a public place like a public library.

What is the capstone project?

The final class students in the post-professional doctor of physical therapy program take is Clinical Applications. In it, students complete a project that demonstrates their competence with the components of the patient/client management model, the processes of clinical decision-making and the effective/efficient use of resources. Each student completes a capstone project. All other courses must be completed prior to enrollment in this course.

Can I take a course on-campus if I want to?

No. The post-professional D.P.T. program is only offered in an online format.

The Department of Physical Therapy coordinates with the DMU Office for Continuing Medical Education to sponsor programs related to physical therapy as continuing education opportunities ( These activities do not require an application for admission to the university and are not eligible for academic credit. Although some of these events may occur on the DMU campus, these activities are not components of the PPDPT degree program.

Do I ever have to come to campus?

Many students complete the post-professional D.P.T. program without ever coming to campus. All courses are offered online but one course – Manual Therapy Interventions – does have a hands-on component. The hands-on component can be fulfilled through a weekend lab on campus or through continuing education units or certification in a manual therapy area. Learn more information about the manual therapy course.

Can I access DMU’s library facilities if I’m taking online classes?

Many of the DMU library resources are available online, including multiple databases and full text articles. The interlibrary loan service allows you to reserve books, order journal articles and receive materials from other libraries.

Can I go on vacation while taking an online class?

Online courses require weekly logins and weekly assignment submissions. You are welcome to go on vacation as long as you maintain internet access and carve out the time to continue with your graduate studies. Also, students are encouraged to make themselves aware of the term calendar and to schedule travel during breaks. Faculty are strongly encouraged to avoid assigning work when a break is scheduled (i.e., spring break, holidays, etc.).

Are there specific login or online participation times?

Most online classes allow for asynchronous participation (not specific times). However, in order to facilitate student learning, online classes may include conference calls, online chat rooms or Skype options which do require a specific time commitment. This information will be identified in the course syllabus. Students should expect weekly due dates for assignments (maybe more than one due each week) that require them to participate in the online course throughout the week.

How many students are in an online course?

To ensure quality course delivery, course enrollments are capped per the program director’s discretion. There are spots for 20 students per section. One instructor may teach up to 40 students. There may be a different instructor for each section.