Dec 042003
 
Authors: Amy Resseguie

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

through WebCT.

“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

non-credit courses.

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

professor’s preference.

“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,

Powell said.

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

education.

“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

class.

“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

second-class courses.”

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

other way.

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

online.

Maso also said online classes might be a better option for some

students.

“If you’re kind of doing it at your own pace and you’re

self-motivated, you might do better.”

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