University to offer more online summer courses

By Liyuan Yang Staff writer

This summer the University will offer over 300 online courses, including more than 20 new ones, in a range of subjects.

So far, 138 graduate sections and 186 undergraduate sections have been added, though more are on the way, Deanna Raineri, associate provost for Education Innovation, said.

Registration starts at 11 a.m. on April 6 for students with Chancellor’s Honors status, and eligible veterans or service members.

Courses were chosen based on a survey conducted by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning during the winter term, said Raineri.  

The “two big ones” students asked for were general education and business courses, she said.

Many students opt for summer online courses if they have a job or don’t want to wait another semester, Raineri said.

“(Students) can take one course over the summer, that’s one less they have to take in the fall, and it can control the time in graduation so it saves some tuition,” Raineri said.

Raineri said they have seen more interaction in online courses because students feel comfortable and safe behind a computer screen. 

Eric Snodgrass, director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, has taught online courses since 2011. He currently teaches ATMS 120: Severe and Hazardous Weather and ENSU 310: Renewable and Alternative Energy in the summer. 

Snodgrass said online courses allow him to devote more time to helping students because the lectures are prerecorded and assignments are ready at the start of the term.

Raineri emphasized that different online courses approach teaching differently. For the majority of the undergraduate online courses, the instructor is involved. Students do most of the work on their own and instructors are there when students need them.

The summer session also allows students to learn time management skills by categorizing courses into self-paced or non-self-paced models.

Snodgrass said he prefers the non-self-paced model because it is more structured and works on a schedule and timeline. 

Meanwhile, Virginia Miller, sophomore in LAS, took ATMS 120 last summer and enjoyed the self-paced model.

“Self-paced models are nice, particularly during the summer when you want the freedom to work ahead and give yourself some extra time off … without stressing about potentially missing assignments or rushing through to finish them,” she said.

Raineri said giving students options for controlling the pace also helps those with accessibility issues, such as sight and hearing impairment, because they can rewind as much as necessary.

However, Raineri said there are still worries that it may be tough for students who have trouble focusing. 

To solve this problem, Snodgrass suggested students read the course schedule immediately and budget their time well. 

“Online courses can be great and you can really enjoy them if you have a flexible attitude toward this ‘new’ way of teaching and learning,” he said.

Online classes are not necessarily as easy as some students may assume, she said, and success comes with dedication and self-discipline.

“These are not ‘easy grades’ to speed through and get an easy A,” Miller said. “But if you put in the time and effort, they are exceptionally rewarding and can even be fun.”

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