Distance Learning

Palo Alto College offers various online academic programs and courses to provide access to first-rate faculty and top-quality academics in a convenient, flexible format offered entirely online. Throughout the courses, students will use interactive video conferencing and video streaming to interact with peers and instructors. Orientations, websites, and access to Canvas are available via ACES

Before enrolling in an online course or pursuing an online program, students should meet with an academic advisor

Online Course Access and Notifications

Course Log In

To access your online course(s):

  1. Log in to ACES.
  2. Click on the "My Courses" tab and choose the current semester.
  3. Click on the class link. The link will lead to class information posted by the instructor or into the Canvas introduction page for a course.

Set Up Your Canvas Notification Preferences

Canvas can reach out to you in a variety of ways about updates to your online course. From within Canvas, you can choose how (and how often) you want to be notified of updates in your course. These updates can be a new message from your instructor or classmates, an announcement, a posted grade or feedback, changes to the course content, and much, much more. To learn more about setting up your notification preferences in Canvas, view this Canvas Guide.


Online Programs


Learning Resources for Distance Learning Students

Orientation to Online Learning Course (OLRN)

Online courses offer the convenience and flexibility of participating in a course without a formal schedule or location. However, online courses require a unique set of skills. Before you enroll, you should feel confident that your study habits, time management, computer skills, and independent motivation match what’s required in the online learning environment.

If you are new to online courses, PAC recommends that you enroll in the *free* Orientation to Online Learning, OLRN or “O-Learn,” mini-course. OLRN is free and takes about 2-hours to complete. It prepares you to be a more successful online student. Your advisor can assist with OLRN registration.

Some online instructors at PAC may require OLRN; this information is available in the course catalogue.

Academic Learning Studio
*Until further notice, the Academic Learning Studio is currently working under the PAC IT Services helpdesk to assist students with remote IT services and device checkouts. Please call the IT helpdesk for inquiries.*

Located in the Ozuna Library building, room 150, the Academic Learning Studio (ALS) is part of the Palo Alto College Information Technology Services (IT) department. The ALS is the largest computer lab on campus and open to the whole community! The ALS provides free IT services, economical printing, as well as a variety of basic tech-based workshops for students and non-students alike, and device checkouts are available to currently enrolled PAC students. 

Follow the ALS social media platforms for video tutorials, schedule of events, and other tech-related content.
Instagram: pac_als
Twitter: pac_itsupport
YouTube: PAC ITS 
AlamoExperience: Academic Learning Studio

Access to electronic resources and library assistance can be found at the following links.

Visit the Palo Alto College Library LibGuides


Student Services Support

Access to all academic and student support services can be found at the following link.

Support at PAC


Technical Support for Distance Learning Students

Information Technology Services (ITS)

Palo Alto College Helpdesk

Phone: 210-486-3777 (select option 1)

Palo Alto College Information Technology Services (ITS)

Hours of Operation

8 a.m.–5 p.m.

Caller Checklist

When calling, please have the following information readily available:

  • Last four digits of SSN
  • Date of Birth
  • Banner ID

Alamo Colleges Helpdesk

Phone: 210-485-0555 (select option 4)
Toll Free: 866-493-3947

Hours of Operation

Monday–Friday: 8 a.m.–midnight
Saturday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m.–midnight

Canvas Live Chat Support 

Canvas Support Live Chat (Links to an external site.)


Procedures to Protect the Privacy of Distance Learning Students

Identity Verification in Distance Learning Courses

The identity verification process for online courses protects student’s privacy through the use of a secure portal with a secure login and student-created password. All online courses are hosted on Alamo Colleges District secure learning management system, Canvas. Faculty can post assignments and exams within the learning management system to ensure the privacy of student information. In addition, BioSig-ID, a biometric enabling system, is used in all online courses.

Alamo Colleges District also issues each student a nine-digit student identification number. This number becomes the unique identifier for students throughout their academic history at the College. 


Some PAC online courses require students to come to campus for proctored exams in order to verify student identity and maintain the integrity of the exam.  All PAC online courses require a biometric signature verification in order to verify the student’s identity prior to completing an online assignment or taking an online exam.

Password Security

Both students and faculty are responsible for the security of their secure-portal passwords and are strongly encouraged to use strong passwords and change their passwords every 90 days.


PAC students are required to use Alamo Colleges District email address or the communication features within the course Learning Management System to communicate with their online instructors.  This will ensure that all electronic communications with the instructor are secure. 

Faculty Responsibility

Faculty and staff understand and carry out a commitment to confidentiality, integrity, and security to protect the privacy of students who participate in distance learning activities. Student records are kept private by the instructor, except in cases where academic staff or administration access the course, with legitimate educational interest under FERPA guidelines.

In order to maintain course security and protect student privacy, faculty do not access or attempt to access another employee’s or student’s account without authorization as described in Board Policy C.1.9 Appropriate Use of Information Technology.

Student Responsibility

In order to maintain confidentiality, portal login passwords are generated by the student and any password reset is completed through a “secret question” protocol. It is the student’s responsibility to keep passwords confidential. See Student Code of Conduct Procedure F.4.2.1 and Board Policy C.1.9 Appropriate Use of Information Technology Resources.

Only work submitted to open forums, like discussion boards, can be accessed by other students; other assignments, grades and correspondence are not viewable by other students.


Grievance procedures

As a member of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA), Palo Alto College provides a grievance process for students located in NC-SARA states. All students have a right to file a complaint against the institution if the institution is in violation of federal or NC-SARA policies. Currently, with the exception of California, all states including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are members of NC-SARA. For the quickest resolution for complaints, students are encouraged to follow the formal non-academic grievance procedure, located under “Grievance Process” here. Students who are not satisfied with the outcome of this process may reach out to the Texas Higher Education Board (THECB) for resolution. The THECB will respond only after the complaint process at the college has been exhausted.

Student complaint information may also be accessed through individual state agencies. Contacts for those agencies, current as of October 2020, are provided here.

Contact Information

Amanda Harrison 
Director of the Teaching & Learning Center