When Heather Achbach decided to take the fall off from CSU, she
knew that she didn’t want to completely lose a semester’s worth of
courses. While spending the past four months working full time,
Achbach enrolled in an online course through the university.
Achbach is taking Music Appreciation online in order to fulfill
one of the university requirements.
The course is divided into sections, with a test for each
section. Achbach, a junior liberal arts major, is able to read
online “lectures,” participate in chats with the professor and
other students and read corresponding sections in the textbooks
before taking a timed, online test. The entire course is taught
“What I really like about this class is that I move at my own
pace,” Achbach said. “Since I have a crazy work schedule, I can fit
in class work when I have a chance.”
Through CSU’s Division of Continuing Education, students can
choose among 95 different courses online for credit and 59
Albert Powell, director of independent learning, said there are
two types of online courses offered through the university.
Resident instruction courses are for students who are currently
enrolled at CSU, and they must complete any prerequisites and any
other requirements before taking the course. Tests for these
classes may be completed online or in a classroom depending on the
“The only difference between that course and a face-to-face
course is that you don’t have to go to class,” Powell said.
Distance education courses are available to anyone who wants to
take them. One does not have to be enrolled in the university and
can be living anywhere in the world. If paper tests are required
for the course, a proctor must administer the exam for the student,
Though the setting is different from a traditional class, Powell
said a content proposal of each potential online course must be
approved by the appropriate department, college and by the
university, which is the same process that a regular course
proposal must go through.
“The whole basis of an online course is that it’s not exactly
the same course as you’d take on campus, but its equivalent,”
Powell said. “The fact that you don’t have a face to face
experience doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it.”
Achbach said she thinks the online course offers a good
“I think this is a pretty comparable education to what I would
get in a classroom setting,” she said. “Since I have to read the
textbook, whereas with some classes you can get through the entire
semester without cracking a book, I feel that I am getting more out
of the class.”
Online courses are listed on a student’s transcript as a
completed course, without any special identification as an online
“The only reason to say it’s different is to say it’s different
in value,” Powell said. “CSU decided years ago we do not have
Almost all of the online courses are taught by CSU faculty
members, typically as an overload to their regular teaching
workload. Some courses are taught by graduate students, and a few
are taught by educators who are not affiliated with CSU in any
Powell said the online courses are popular with students from
other universities who then transfer the credits to their own
school. He said that many students also take a course online during
the summers while they are working. Still others take the classes
out of pure convenience.
“I would imagine there are some cases with an 8 a.m. course
where the online version looks pretty good,” Powell said.
Lauren Maso, a junior art major, said that she has never taken
an online course, but depending on the courses offered, she would.
Maso said that with courses that are already heavily dependent on
using computer technology, she would prefer to put the whole course
Maso also said online classes might be a better option for some
“If you’re kind of doing it at your own pace and you’re
self-motivated, you might do better.”