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Online Classes FAQ

Sign up for classes by choosing the course(s) you are interested in from the Course List.  Our course are taught on this site: and you will receive login credentials the weekend prior to the start of your course.

Comments from students who’ve attended our online courses:


What happens if I change my mind after signing up and paying for a class?

Course Cancellation and Refund Policy: Course cancellations must be made in writing (e-mail sent to Helen Alten at with CC to Peggy Schaller at Cancellations received one week prior to the start of the course will receive a full refund or enrollment in another course of equal value of the student’s choice. Cancellations received during the week prior to the start of the course will receive a refund less 10% cancellation fee or enrollment in another course of equal value. Cancellations received within the first three days of the start of the course, where the student has not signed into the course, will receive a 50% refund or enrollment in another course of equal value. No refund will be given for cancellations received after the start of a course into which the student has signed in. Refer to the course completion policy for other options.

What happens if I can’t finish a course?

Course Completion Policy: If the student drops out of a course within the first half of the course’s time frame with written notice to their instructor and to the course administrator or monitor and asks to take the course again the next time it is offered, NSCC will accommodate them one time at no extra charge. If a student drops out at the end of a course or indicates that they are not able to finish without an extension, their instructor may grant them an extension to finish the course. The request for an extension must be made in writing (e-mail). The student must keep the instructor informed on a regular basis of their progress or difficulties in finishing. If the student fails to communicate with the instructor, and the original time allotted for the extension for finishing has passed, the student will be said to have failed the course. If a student does not finish a course or give the instructor any indication that they are having trouble and need extra time, they will be said to have failed the course and no accommodation is made. If a Certificate Student is unable to finish a course and gives the instructor notice and is given an extension that is not met, the student will be said to have failed the course. The student upon request will be granted permission to retake the failed course at half price in order to meet their certificate course requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time do I have to allocate per day during the class period? Is it like a full time class? As I have never taken any online classes my idea on how that works is rather vague. I have limited time. I would like an idea of the commitment necessary to complete this course.
On average students spend 10 hours a week working on a course. The more you put into the course, the more you will get out of it. Some students read faster, some slower. Some students have spent more time on experiments or assignments. So far, student time ranges from 20 hours per week to 4 hours per week.

I can not determine how often “class” will meet, if it meets at all. Is the class self paced or are there designated times to participate on-line for lecture and discussion?
The class is self-paced except for one or two times per week for real-time group discussions. The times for these meetings are established by the class during the first week of class, based on suggestions by the instructor. The group meetings are done in a chat room. There are also deadlines for assignments and quizzes.

I am already committed to be out of my office during the first part of the course. How will this affect my ability to participate in the course?
The course is accessible to you from any computer with Internet access at any time of the day or night. However, if you are unable to access the Internet for a number of weeks, that will make it difficult for you to complete the course successfully. Part of your grade is dependent on participation in forums, chats, and completeing quizzes and assignments by their deadline.

Would it be possible for me to pay the fee and broadcast the course into our museum so all of our staff can ‘catch’ the information and potentially contribute with questions?
Our staff time, both instructor and technical expert, are impacted if more than one person is represented by a login. If you are interested in providing the course as in-staff training, we can offer a reduced fee for additional participants from a single institution. Please contact us directly if you are interested in this option. We track our registered students to ensure everyone is able to use the software, comfortable with the course, and pacing themselves at a good rate. If a group, rather than an individual, accesses the class using one login, there would be significantly more activity for that one login. This would be a signal to us to contact that login and determine what is going on with it.

I am skeptical about this on-line business. I’ve never done anything like this on-line before….I don’t have Powerpoint or video or whatever… the technology may be a problem.
Even older and slower computers can handle our courses. The Powerpoint presentations have much smaller web versions that almost any browser can handle. As far as streaming audio goes, if we include it you’ll also be able to download the text as a separate file. If you are concerned about your equipment, tell us the age, speed and memory capacity of your computer when you sign up. Also let us know what version of Internet Explorer (click Help, About Internet Explorer) or other browser that you have. Most browsers work well with the courses.

I am interested in participating in your online course, should I just register online?
The best way to tell us you want to participate is to pay for the course online. If you need some time to get the money, add the course to your shopping cart, fill out the details, click on ‘Other Payment Options’ and write in the comment field how you plan to pay for the course and when payment might be expected.

Please let me know the deadlines to enroll for this course.
All of our courses are first come, first served. You reserve a place by paying or letting us know a check is in the mail. If the course fills in a few days, we may try to schedule a second course. All enrollments should be received 24 hours before the course launches.

Do you recommend signing up for classes now?
Yes. The sooner you commit to the course, the more likely you will have a place in it. Unfortunately, waiting may mean you lose the opportunity of participating. Our courses are limited to 20 participants.

Can you give me a little more information about how the course operates?
For each topic, you will receive Powerpoint lectures and text (book chapters) that match the lectures. The lecture topics are listed on our web site,, underneath the course heading. For each topic there will be links to additional readings and discussion topics. We are experimenting with up-loading audio lectures for each Powerpoint presentation – but don’t worry, we will make sure all audio, if used, is transcribed into text for those with slower computers and connections. Your participation in the course will include up-loading documents, participating in approximately three discussion forums in real time (chat room style) and other discussions through e-mail. You may find it useful to borrow a digital camera or scanner to upload images. We would like you to upload a picture of yourself so we can put a face to your name. The course comes complete with our own technology consultant. If you have never participated in an Internet course before, he will be available through e-mail and telephone to help you master the technology. Our goal is to make this course fun, informative, and challenging (in a fun way). What excites us about Internet courses is the potential for divergently different people, from anywhere in the world, to problem-solve together. This course provides the opportunity for us to discuss and brainstorm together. Our instructors enjoy facilitating student discussions and expect to learn as much as they teach.

Will additional materials be shipped to us?
Unless otherwise stated in the course description, everything is provided electronically. Some courses have textbooks or sample kits that you purchase seperately. some have materials that are provided with the course.

I was very surprised to find that in addition to the course fee there is also a shipping fee. Can you tell me more about what is being shipped at this price?
There is no shipping fee for our online courses. Our computer automatically adds shipping for our catalog sales, but can be instructed not to do so. Here is how to eliminate it from your receipt: After clicking the ‘Add to Cart’ button at for your course selection select ‘Does Not Require Shipping’ so shipping does NOT get charged. Under payment type select Visa, Mastercard or American Express. Click checkout and fill in the rest of the information. Click ‘submit this orde’r. You will receive a receipt via email. Even if you submit an order with the shipping, we will not charge it to your credit card. The computer does not run your order through automatically. We do that with a separate machine in the office, so glitches like that are caught before they are charged to your card.

What equipment do I need?
A computer with Internet connection and web browser is necessary. You may wish to print off the documents provided during the course, making a fast printer useful. A digital camera and scanner may be helpful, but those can be borrowed and are only needed occasionally. Sound (speakers or a headset) is not currently required, but might be necessary in the future.

Will the course be offered again in the future?
We plan to offer all courses again. However, this is dependent on instructor availability. Some courses are offered every six months, some are only offered once a year.

I see that there are Certificate programs offered. Would I need to be signed up for the Certificate program for the courses I take to count?
We will count any course you took in the past three years towards your Certificate. Also, you can take any course even if you are not a Certificate student. Certificate students are required to attend a professional meeting, complete 10 courses and complete a project that combines knowledge gained from those courses.

I am a little concerned that the instructor’s experience doesn’t cover my type of institution.
We have a wide variety of students from a wide variety of collecting institutions. If an instructor needs assistance, we have staff with strong history, natural history and fine arts backgrounds who can help him/her out. There are two staff who work closely with each instructor to ensure the courses fulfill the needs of all students and cover the full gamut of institutions.