Online Learning

Is Online Learning for You?

This simple, quick questionnaire is designed to help potential online students assess their chances for success in this alternative learning environment. Explanations are included below.

  • Do you have circumstances that prevent you from completing training at a specific location (fire department, community college) one to three times a week?
  • Do you manage your time well and get things done on time without having to be reminded?
  • Are you self-motivated and a self-starter?
  • Are you comfortable using technology such as computers, email, and the Internet?
  • Do you have reasonably strong reading skills?
  • Can you accurately follow written instructions?

How to Score Yourself

If you answered YES to all or almost all of the questions, you would probably enjoy taking an online course. These are courses in which you work at you own pace in many instances. Some IFSI courses require that you complete course work weekly (FF II ) and attend a live chat session. (One hour per week). Some courses give you an entire month to complete your course work. Different courses have different course completion requirements. The student assumes the responsibility to fulfill these requirements. Most all online courses lead to State Certification upon completion of the state examination.

If you answered NO to all or most of the questions, you would probably prefer traditional classes. These classes meet at certain weekly times and have an instructor present. Some students are more successful in this type of environment.


Online courses provide an opportunity for today's busy firefighters to continue to complete training if they are not able go to a structured classroom delivered course at a specific time. Some online courses require attendance for practical sessions that are delivered by IFSI at the Champaign campus, or at a Regional Training Center. Some courses allow you to complete your practical's directly at your fire department.

  • Some students prefer the independence of online courses; others find it uncomfortable. Successful online students are usually those who complete their work on time and do not put things off until the last minute.
  • Online courses give students greater freedom of scheduling, but they can require more self-discipline than on-campus classes.
  • Online courses use technology for teaching and communication.
  • Written materials are an important source of information in online courses. Online courses require you to work from written directions without face-to-face instruction, though all IFSI online courses provide email access to an instructor 24/7 with a response usually within 24 hours.

While online courses are more convenient to schedule, students who have taken the courses in the past agree that they are not easier. They require a lot of work, discipline, and self-motivation to keep up with the assignments.

Students who successfully complete online learning courses are generally self-motivated, keep up to date with assignments without reminders, and have good reading skills.

IFSI Online Course Delivery Methods

IFSI has three delivery methods for the courses. First we have totally self-directed or independent study courses. Two examples of these are Ethanol Awareness and Enhanced Grant Writing for FEMA Grants. With these courses, upon electronic registration, you receive an email providing directions on how to login and take the course. Being self-directed you are provided all instructional materials. You work through modules and complete an electronic exam. After passing the exam you can print your certificate.

The next type of course is a blended hybrid course. For this course students complete weekly learning modules. Each module usually covers a subject area. Students must complete a practical component for these courses. What makes these courses desirable is that you are permitted to complete the practical's at your own fire department. An example of this is the Certified FF II course and the Fire Service Vehicle Operator Course. Students can expect to complete the following studies for the online portion of these courses; reading assignments, written homework, view online media presentations, listen to audio lectures, participate in live weekly keyboard chat sessions, complete online quizzes, and finally at the end of each module take the State Certification Exam. (Note, live chats are offered twice each week. Students are only required to attend one session).

Finally, IFSI offers a totally blended course. For these courses students attend the online class and then must travel to IFSI for a weekend practical session. The online classroom component s are the same as the blended hybrid courses. An example of this course is Fire Apparatus Engineer. Hazardous Materials Operations will be a blended course and is scheduled for delivery in the fall of 2011.

Here are a few other questions that often arise.

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