Mustang Daily Staff Report
Online learning is emerging more and more in universities across the country. With more pressure to complete degrees in four years, and with less money, students are feeling the crunch to use any means necessary to get courses.
University of California, Irvine (UCI) nursing senior Megan Ginther took her first online course during Summer 2012.
With a busy work schedule and no online courses at UCI that aided Ginther’s degree progress, she chose to take “Introduction to Sociology” through the local community college, Irvine Valley College (IVC).
“I knew I had to take a summer class if I wanted to stay on track to graduate in four years, but there was no way I could fit it into my schedule, so I started looking for online courses,” Ginther said. “After looking at Irvine’s offerings for the summer, I knew I would have to look at the community colleges nearby.”
Closer to home, Cal Poly is actively exploring ways to build on and augment current online instruction, College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Dean Douglas Epperson said.
More specifically, the CLA currently aims to cater to pre-existing students, which would benefit students, such as Ginther, who already plan to take a course, he said.
“CLA only has a handful of online courses, mostly during the summer for students who cannot stay on campus,” he said.
Since most students who cannot stay in San Luis Obispo during summer choose to take courses online through a local community college or another university, it makes sense to offer those courses through Cal Poly, Epperson said.
Though there is initiative to increase the number of online offerings at Cal Poly, there are some courses that would not benefit, Epperson said.
“I think there is real value in face-to-face interaction and hands on supervised activity,” Epperson said. “Some courses would be difficult to do online and preserve quality.”
Ginther agrees with Epperson about
the value of face-to-face interaction, but was pleased with how the IVC teacher structured the course to mimic this, she said.
“It wasn’t just a class where you read the textbook and took a test,” she said, “but instead it was engaging and led to many thoughtful discussions that imitated being in a real classroom.”
The future of online courses will be more assuring if teachers and universities can do their best to make students feel as though they are still in a classroom environment, Ginther said.
Amber Diller contributed to this staff report.