Distance and Online Learning

Is Online Learning Right For You?

Is Online Learning Right for You?Online courses make it possible to go to college even if you have obligations that prevent regular attendance in a classroom. Distance learning gives you the flexibility of taking courses and completing assignments when and where you choose.

Oakton is a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and authorized through Illinois and the regional SARA organization to provide online instruction to students residing in the 49 states that are members of SARA. Oakton is also authorized to teach students residing in California. The only face-to-face requirement is for proctored testing in some courses.

The ideal online student is self-motivated, organized and disciplined. Online classes require as much time and effort as those taught in a classroom. Be prepared to work hard for your grades before you enroll. If you are not sure about taking an online class, take these two five-to ten-minute surveys on the Online Assessment System for Internet Students (OASIS) website to evaluate your study skills and/or learning style, and discover tips for making the most out of your online experience.

Online Courses, Certificates and Degrees

With Oakton's online courses, you can obtain all general education requirements and earn an associate in arts degree as well as several professional certificates. You can also explore degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely online.

Online Learning Student Resources

Learn about getting started with online classes. View technical requirements, familiarize yourself with the Desire2Learn learning management system and more.

Proctored Testing Placement for Online Credit Courses

Nearly half of Oakton’s online courses, including online math and language courses, require testing in a proctored setting. Explore testing options and requirements for your online courses here.

Registering for Classes

Students who wish to enroll in online courses must follow the same enrollment steps as all Oakton students. Currently enrolled students can enroll online at myOakton or in person with a photo I.D. at the Enrollment Center on either campus. If you are not a current Oakton student, you will need to apply to Oakton.

Tuition and Fees

Online courses are assessed tuition plus an additional $50/course online technology fee. Financial aid is available to all who qualify.

Illinois Community Colleges Online

Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO) is a consortium of Illinois community colleges working together to provide leadership, facilitate collaboration and share resources in online and technology-enhanced education.

No. In addition, all distance learning students are charged in-district fees and tuition, regardless of where they live.

  • An online course is delivered via the Internet rather than in a traditional classroom in a building. 
  • Students "attend" an online course at a time that is convenient for them rather than at a regularly scheduled class time. 
  • Students in an online class are responsible for scheduling their own "class time" each week. Motivation and self-discipline are essential for success in an online course. 
  • Learning material in an online course is generally presented by means of textbooks and articles, online documents, and audio-visual materials. 
  • Whether in a traditional classroom setting or online, the instructor organizes, prepares, and manages the presentation of course materials; crafts assignments to help students grasp and apply the material; assigns due date and monitors student progress. 
  • Students in an online course interact with their instructor and other students in the class via email, discussion forums, and chats, rather than face-to-face discussions. Students use their reading and writing skills more predominately than their speaking and listening skills.
  • As in a traditional classroom, students in an online class are evaluated by means of assignments and exams. 

  •  In most cases, yes. Students are expected to purchase a textbook(s) for most online courses. You can check what text is required for your online course(s) at the Oakton Bookstore at either campus or online. Be sure the course section number matches your online course section number. For example,"0C1".

Note: Some courses use textbooks that come packaged with an Access Code for the course, included in the cost of the text, if it is new. Used texts will not have an active access code, and will require the student to purchase an access code separately.

All instruction will generally be via the Internet. However, check the course description. Some instructors have scheduled on-campus lab sessions and/or presentations, which are mandatory. In addition, approximately half of our online courses require on-campus testing. Alternative arrangements for exams can be made for students who live at a distance which prevents taking their exams on-campus.

If proctored exams are required as a part of an online course, local students can take them in Oakton's Testing Center on either campus. Call the Testing Center on either campus, in Des Plaines 847.635.1939 or in Skokie 847.635.1446, for hours of operation. No appointment is necessary. Additionally, some instructors will make their own arrangements with students.

Special arrangements will be made for students who live out of the area to take any required exams. See Oakton's Proctoring Requirements.

In some cases you do. 

  • If you wish to take English or mathematics courses, you will need to take Oakton's placement tests. For further information and a schedule of testing dates, contact the Testing Center.
  • If you have already completed the prerequisite for an Oakton English or mathematics course in another college, you can submit a transcript or send verification that you completed the prerequisite before you register. Out of district students needing Oakton Math and/or English placement exams, please contact the Online Learning Office, onlinelearning@oakton.edu, 847-635-1970. 

If you have questions about the placement test requirement, contact the Advising Services department. 

Students must possess a minimum level of computer knowledge to function in an online learning environment. They need to be comfortable with the Windows or Macintosh environment and with navigating the World Wide Web. Additionally, they should be able to use email and a variety of search engines.

  • If you need to talk with an academic advisor, contact Academic Advising Services at 847-635-1741 or email.
  • If you need more information about course content, call or e-mail the instructor.
  • If you need information about your bill, call the cashier at 847-635-1639.
  • If you need information about obtaining the books and materials for your course, call the Online Learning office, 847.635.1970.

Online courses are subject to the same refund policies as conventional Oakton credit courses. See Withdrawal from Classes for more information. The schedule/bill statement you receive when you register will include the exact dates for drop deadlines and the amount of refund you may expect. You may also contact the Enrollment Center for more information.

Yes, if you receive financial aid from Oakton, you may apply it toward tuition and fees for an online course. 

See Costs and Financial Aid for more information.

Every effort has been made to make Oakton Online courses as technologically accessible to the widest variety of students as possible. Students need to have access to a computer and an Internet connection and any additional hardware/software as specified for a particular course. Students who don't have a computer can use computers available in the open labs on either campus. 

Using D2L Brightspace

Before enrolling in an online course please visit the System Check page; this page will verify your browser version, browser settings and display settings on your computer.

Recommended Hardware/Software Requirements

Students enrolled in online courses have the convenience to access their courses anywhere, anytime. To have a rich learning experience, free of technical issues; it is recommended that online students have access to a computer with the following hardware and software requirements:

Screen Size
  • A minimum of 1024x600
Operating Systems
  • Microsoft® Windows® 7 or newer
  • Mac OSX 10.6 or latest
  • Linux chrome OS
Mobile Operating System Native App Support
  • iOS 7 or newer
  • Android 2.3 or latest
Computer Speed and Processor
  • Use a computer 4 years old or newer
  • 1 GB of RAM
  • 2 GHz processor
  • 40 GB of Hard drive
Internet Speed, Software, and Email
  • Broadband, wireless high-speed Internet connection such as DSL or cable
  • Have an email account
  • Internet Browser, such as Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome
  • Basic software applications (Microsoft Office). If you don't want to purchase Microsoft Office, as a student with Oakton email address or any educational institution email address, you can download Microsoft Office 365 for free.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Up-to-date Antivirus program
Assistive Technology Software
  • Kurzweil 3000 (for Windows or Mac. Reads the Web for Chrome or Firefox. Has other great features)
  • JAWS (for Windows 7 and newer. Works with the latest versions of Microsoft Office, Google Docs Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Firefox  & Google Chrome)
  • NVDA (for Windows 7 and newer. Supports for latest version of Firefox, Google Chrome and Microsoft office)
  • VoiceOver (for Mac. Use VoiceOver to read text on Mac. Can be used to edit seamlessly in Grade 2 Braille. It provides greater control while using a Mac)
Recommended Browsers

Note: These are the minimum browser requirements needed for using D2L Brightspace.

D2L Recommended Desktop Browsers


Supported Browser Version(s)

Microsoft Edge


Mozilla Firefox


Google Chrome


Apple Safari


For Tablet and Mobile

Tablets and mobile devices such as smart phones should have the latest native browser. Be aware that many features of D2L Brightspace will not function fully or in some cases at all on tablets and mobile devices so students should not expect to be able to complete a D2L Brightspace course without access to a PC or Mac.

D2L Tablet and Mobile Recommendations


Operating System


Supported Browser Version(s)


Android 2.3 version or latest version





iOS 7 or latest version




Latest version for the iOS browser.


Windows 10

Edge, Chrome, Firefox

Latest of all browsers, and Firefox ESR


  • If you are using Safari, you should disable its pop-up blocker when using D2L Brightspace. To disable the pop-up blocker, click Safari in the menu bar and uncheck Block Pop-Up Windows. Failing to disable the pop-up blocker may prevent you from completing some tasks in D2L Brightspace, such as composing discussion board messages. If you continue to have problems try using the Firefox web browser which can be downloaded for free at www.mozilla.com/firefox.
  • Ensure that your browser has JavaScript and Cookies enabled.
  • For desktop systems, you must have Adobe Flash Player 10.1 or greater.

Online courses provide students the scheduling flexibility of accessing a course from anywhere at any time, but they also require students to be self-disciplined and organized and to have excellent time management skills. Students must speak up for what they need, whether that is emailing a question, asking for help, etc.

To be successful in an online learning environment, students must keep up with the weekly schedule and actively participate in learning activities.