online learning snowbird main art

Online Learning Frequently Asked Questions

How do online courses work?
Online courses are structured so that all of the course content traditionally delivered in the classroom is delivered online. Course content may be accessed through a learning management system (LMS) such as Canvas. Some classes may require a few on-campus meetings or scheduled online discussion sessions. The course syllabus will show the requirements for the course.

Should I take an online course?
Online learning is a very different environment than that of the traditional classroom. With that in mind, online learning is not for everyone. So, how can you tell? Your answers to the following questions will help you decide:

  • Am I self-motivated and self-disciplined?
  • Can I communicate effectively through written communication?
  • Do I have basic computer skills: word processing, internet browsing, email (including sending and receiving attachments?)
  • Do I have practically unlimited access to a computer and internet service?
  • Am I open minded about sharing life, work and educational experiences?
  • Do I have the ability to learn new software without classroom instruction?

If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, chances are you are a good candidate for success in an online course. A few “no” answers to these questions may identify areas that need strengthened or addressed, but you may still decide that online learning is a good choice for you.

If you answered “no” to many of the questions, this may indicate that your chances for success may be greater in a traditional course setting at this time. As your skills and experience grow, you may decide to revisit the option of online learning in the future.

How do I access my online course?
Usernames and passwords for your online accounts will be automatically generated and given to you by your advisor when you register for classes. Access your online courses by visiting or clicking on the Canvas link from the MyRLC portal. Use your username and password to log in. Note: To protect the privacy of your accounts, it is important that you do not share your log in information with others.

What is MyRLC?
The MyRLC portal is the central location that may be used to log in and manage most of your student accounts. Student accounts include Canvas, Online Student Records, Warriormail, and Electronic Library. Access the MyRLC portal at


What is Canvas? Canvas is an online Learning Management System. Once you are logged in, you can learn the terms and tools by clicking on the RLC Canvas Student Resource course or the Online Navigation Essentials (ONE 1500) orientation module. Both are on your Canvas Dashboard. 

What is the Canvas URL? OR

What login do I use? You will be prompted to log into a Google account. That is normal and expected. (Canvas is tied to your WarriorMail, which is actually a Google account.) Use the username (lastnamefirstinitial####) and password provided to you, but be sure to include with your username. If you receive an error message, check to see if you are already logged in to your browser under a different Google account, perhaps a personal account. Log out of the account and refresh the page to try again.

What if I get a 403 error? That is most likely because your browser is logged into a personal Google account. No problem. Just open a new tab in your browser and go to Log in with your WarriorMail username and password. This will do two things: 1) Log you into your WarriorMail and 2) Set your browser to allow a choice for Google accounts. Now visit again, choose your WarriorMail account and log in. That should get it!

How and when will students be added to Canvas courses? Students will be added to Canvas courses about one week before classes begin. 

Is there a Canvas app? Canvas offers a FREE App for Android and iOS users. Download the app from Google Play Store or the App Store. Search for the college and log in using your WarriorMail username and password. Learn more about the app at What is the Canvas Student app?

How do I receive text messages from my instructors about my course? Canvas allows you set your notifications and add your cell phone as a contact in addition to your email. See How do I add a text (SMS) contact method in Canvas as a student? an external site.

What help is there for students?
• Help Link - The help link within Canvas provides several help options for students! Of course, the RLC Help Desk will provide assistance, but students also have 24/7 access to Canvas tech support and resources. The RLC Help Desk is available Monday - Friday from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm. Send an email to  or call 618-437-5321, 1259. When emailing the help desk, please add a phone number for a quicker response. Response time will vary depending on the volume of requests. Please be patient—someone will contact you as soon as possible.

• The RLC Canvas Student Resource course is available on your Canvas dashboard! This course will be a resource course designed to provide help about Canvas for any RLC student

• Contact a librarian. A Library Resource Course is available on your Canvas dashboard. This course provides information that is available to you in RLC’s Learning Resource Center. 

What help is there for faculty?
• Help Link - The help link within Canvas provides several help options for faculty! Of course, the RLC Help Desk will provide assistance, but faculty also have 24/7 access to Canvas tech support and resources. 

• A RLC Canvas Instructor Resource course is available for faculty on the Canvas dashboard! This course is a resource course designed to provide help for instructors.

Do you want to receive text messages from your instructors? Canvas allows you set your notifications and add your cell phone as a contact in addition to your email. See How do I add a text (SMS) contact method in Canvas as a student?

Do I need specific technology skills or equipment?

In order to be successful in an online learning environment, you will need to have some basic computer skills. Your online learning experience will be less stressful if these competencies have been mastered.

  • Operate a web browser
  • Download, upload, and install files
  • Access your e-mail account
  • Send and receive e-mail with attachments
  • Use a word processor to create and print documents
  • Use presentation software (such as PowerPoint) to create presentation slides

It is also important that you have nearly unlimited access to a computer with Internet access. As for hardware and software requirements, please visit the Online Learning Orientation – Step 5: Technology Requirements for a list of those requirements and recommendations.

What is the difference between an “online course” and a “hybrid course”?
Courses at Rend Lake College are offered in the following structures or formats:

  • Face-to-Face – In this type of course, you will attend classes on campus or at an extension center in a physical setting with an instructor present. Canvas may be used for assignment submission, course document dissemination, etc.
  • Hybrid – The hybrid course will require you to complete a portion of the coursework online using Canvas and the remainder of the coursework will be completed in a face-to-face learning setting. Campus visits will be necessary in this type of class. Course numbers for a hybrid course will include a section number beginning with "Y", for example, CSCI 1101-Y1. The "Y" indicates a hybrid course.
  • Online – The online course is designed for you to complete your course online using Canvas. You are expected to have a computer available and access to the Internet. Course numbers for an online course will include a section number beginning with "N", for example, CSCI 1101-N1. The "N" indicates an online course.

Please note that some online courses require you to visit a test-proctoring site to complete the test requirements for the course. You will be informed of and instructed on test proctoring procedures by the course instructor.

Online access to the hybrid and/or online course may not be made available until the first day of class as early course availability is at the discretion of the instructor.

Please refer to the Official Catalog for more detailed information about your course.

Information Technology
Phone: (618) 437-5321 Ext. 1259
Toll-free (In-District): 1-800-369-5321 Ext. 1259
Address: 468 N. Ken Gray Parkway, Ina, IL 62846 Attn: IT Help Desk
Fax Number: (618) 437-5677 Attn: IT Help Desk

Giving Now is More important than ever.

Late Start Classes Available