Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Web and classroom combine

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This is a very exciting development, IMHO—finally we move away from the blackboard. Lori Yount reports for the Wichita [KS] Eagle:

Butler Community College student Steven Lee had never taken an online class before, so he thought a “blended” learning class with half the work in a classroom and half on the computer would be a way to try online learning.

The blended English class saves him almost an hour round-trip drive to campus every other week.

“It’s one extra day I can make money,” Lee said. “And it saves gas.”

Online course offerings are rapidly expanding at several local colleges this year and schools expect to add more e-schooling options in the future as more students demand them for convenience.

Blended learning

This is the first year Butler has offered blended learning classes, partly in response to growing concern among students about rising gas costs.

Online course enrollment has risen about 20 percent each year for the past five years at Butler, said Meg McGranaghan, director of instructional technology.

This year, more than 2,000 of Butler’s roughly 8,000 students are taking online courses, with a total of about 10,000 credit hours earned over the Internet, Butler officials said.

“The phrase, ‘If you build it, they will come,’ is true for online learning,” McGranaghan said.

About 650 students enrolled in the blended course pilot program. “For a pilot, that’s very successful,” McGranaghan said.

Butler’s online-only courses target nontraditional students, or those older than 25, who have the self-discipline to earn their degrees outside the classroom. Blended classes are intended to help undergraduates fresh out of high school save some time and money but still have the structure and accountability of meeting in a classroom every other week, she said.

Friends University has offered the part-online and part-classroom courses, which it calls “hybrid” courses, as well as online-only courses for several years, said John Yoder, vice president for academic affairs.

“The national trends for online programs and courses is increasing, and I suspect the increases in prices in gas are going to fuel that trend,” he said.

Most students who take online courses at Friends live within 15 miles of the university, Yoder said.

“It really is a convenience factor,” he said.

At Wichita State University, the majority of students enrolled in about 70 online courses are from Sedgwick County, said Keith Pickus, associate provost of academic affairs.

“For students working, it’s a question of access,” he said.

The greatest growth in online courses has been in master’s degree programs, because those students tend to have day jobs, he said.

For example, he said, WSU’s gerontology program saw declining graduate enrollment until the department added online courses. Enrollment continued to grow, and now the master’s degree is offered only online. …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

22 September 2008 at 9:05 am

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