Online Learning

The Texas State Library offers online learning opportunities for many of its constituents. This page contains basic information about online learning in the form of frequently asked questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is online learning?


What technology does online learning involve?


How do online courses work?


What characteristics are required to be a successful online learner?


How does the Texas State Library use online learning?


What is self-paced online learning?


What is live online learning?


What technical or computer skills do I need in order to participate in Texas State Library online learning?


What type of computer and Internet connection do I need in order to participate in Texas State Library online learning?


How much time will it take to participate in a Texas State Library online learning course?


Where can I find a glossary of online learning terms?


Where can I find more information about online learning?


Where can I find information on libraries/librarianship and online learning?


Who can I contact for more information at the Texas State Library?


What is online learning?

Also referred to as Web-based learning or e-learning, online learning is a form of distance learning that uses the public Internet or a private Intranet and a Web browser as the learning vehicle. While many people tend to think of online learning as learning you can complete at your own pace (self-paced learning), there are many online learning opportunities that include live, real-time components such as live chat rooms or live video.

What technology does online learning involve?

In the early days of online learning, many online learning opportunities consisted simply of text-based HTML pages accompanied by an activity to prove comprehension. Nowadays, those text-based online activities are typically referred to as "tutorials" and are characterized by their brevity. Today, online learning opportunities are typically more in-depth and media-rich and many are patterned on the structure of a traditional course. With the advent of more advanced technology, online learning offerings typically involve the use of some or all of the following: email, online discussion boards, online assessments, live chat and live video.

How do online courses work?

Before you sign up for an online course, you should make sure that you have the right type of computer (hardware and software) and Internet connection speed necessary to participate. Once you have determined that you meet the technical requirements, you should sign up for the course. Next, you are usually provided with instructions for accessing the learning material online. Typically, you are given the URL (web address) to the main page of the online course and if it is password-protected, you may be given a logon ID and password or asked to register yourself and select your own logon information. Most courses will provide you with an agenda or syllabus and instructions on how to navigate through the course. Depending on their nature, some courses require that you complete the material within a certain period of time. If a course contains live components, you must be able to participate online in the live events at their scheduled day/time. Online courses typically require the completion of activities and/or assessments in order to prove comprehension or mastery of the learning material.

What characteristics are required to be a successful online learner?

The ideal online learner will possess the following characteristics:

  • self-discipline
  • self-motivation
  • responsibility
  • patience
  • willingness to accept (and work through) technical difficulties
  • assertiveness
  • good written communication skills
  • an enjoyment of reading (especially large amount of online text)
  • an enjoyment of online communication

How does the Texas State Library use online learning?

The Texas State Library offers online learning opportunities in order to provide increased accessibility to information and training for its consituents. Some of the online opportunities are created and taught by Texas State Library staff and other online offerings are offered under contract with third-party vendors. Click on the division listed below to find out more about their online learning opportunities:


online courses for Texas library staff offered by the Library Development Division

What is self-paced online learning?

Self-paced online learning is the hopeful end result of self-paced online training -- training that is completed at your own pace but usually within a given period of time. Self-paced learning opportunities do not include online real-time meetings so they may be ideal for learners in need of flexible schedules.

What is live online learning?

Live online learning is the desired outcome of live online training -- training that is online and that includes one or more live (scheduled) events. These live events can be something as as simple as meeting in a chat room at a certain day/time or as sophisticated as meeting in a virtual classroom and exchanging audio and/or video with the instructor and/or other participants. Live online learning offers increased interaction between the instructor and participants but is best suited to those who can adhere to a fixed online schedule.

What technical or computer skills do I need in order to participate in Texas State Library online learning?

This question can be answered in two ways -- there are general technical/computer skills that all online learners should possess and then there are technical/computer skills which may be specific to a particular online offering due to its learning environment or its inclusion of additional features/components. Specific technical/computer skills and requirements for online learning opportunities created by the Texas State Library are provided to you on the informational page for that specific opportunity.

General technical/computer skills that all online learners should possess are the following:

  • basic computer skills such as mousing, scrolling, left- and right-clicking
  • good keyboarding/typing skills (especially important for courses with online chat)
  • good email skills (including knowledge of how to send and open attachments)
  • familiarity with the Windows environment (resizing, minimizing, closing Windows)
  • good word processing skills
  • experience with and ability to use online bulletin/discussion boards
  • experience with and willingness to use online chat rooms if required
  • experience/familiarity with different file formats, especially RTF "Rich Text Format", DOC "Microsoft Word Document", and TXT "Text document"
  • familiarity with plug-ins
  • ability to print pages from a browser

What type of computer and Internet connection do I need in order to participate in Texas State Library online learning?

The type of computer and Internet connection you will need will depend on the type of opportunity in which you would like to participate. It is important to note that the Texas State Library makes every effort to offer maximum accessibility to its online opportunities. For online learning offerings that are not full-fledged courses, the technical requirements will typically be stated on the page which contains the link to access the online module. For Texas State Library-created online courses, a course informational page always outlines the technical requirements for that particular course.

How much time will it take to participate in a Texas State Library online course?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the online course you would like to take. As stated previously, all Texas State Library online courses have a course information page which includes information such as as the computer/technical requirements, registration information and an estimated completion time.

Where can I find a glossary of online learning terms?

There are many good glossaries of online learning terminology. Three notable glossaries are the US Distance Learning Association's E-learning Glossary, Learning Circuits' E-learning Glossary and the University of Idaho's Glossary of Distance Education Terminology.

Where can I find more information about online learning?

A few good sites with general information about online learning are:

Where can I find information on libraries/librarianship and online learning?

The Texas State Library online resource "Distance learning in libraries" contains general information about distance learning including specific information on online learning as it pertains to the library field.

Who can I contact for more information at the Texas State Library?

Please direct online learning questions to:

Naomi DiTullio, Distance Learning Consultant, Library Development Division


512-936-2586 or naomi.ditullio@tsl.texas.gov.

Page last modified: January 25, 2011