More KSU students resort to online courses

Megan Wilkinson

Students making last-minute changes to their schedules this semester may want to consider taking an online course with the university to best accommodate academic needs.

Online courses hit their highest enrollment level as more than 30,000 spots were filled for online courses at Kent State last academic school year, said Deborah Huntsman, director for the Office of Continuing and Distance Education.

Huntsman said about 25 percent of all students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels register for at least one fully online course each semester. She said last summer, more than half of the students enrolled at Kent State took online courses.

“We’ve been thinking maybe a third of the students who enroll at Kent State will likely have an online experience, whether it’s a single course, full degree or multiple courses,” Huntsman said.

Some online courses fill within 48 hours of availability to students, Huntsman said, and as long as there is strong demand, the university will continue to add more online options to students.

The university currently offers more than 500 online courses in all of its departments, which includes its regional campuses. Huntsman said the online learning program is expected to grow even more, especially with its graduate programs and Kent Core classes.

Jonathan Secaur, assistant professor of physics, offers three of his core physics courses in classroom and online formats. Secaur said online learning allows him to reach more students who cannot take face-to-face classes. Some individuals who benefit from online courses include high school students, students home for the summer, young adults raising children, full-time workers or members of the military.

“The big difference between my two courses is that online students can work at their own pace whenever they choose to, which gives students a great deal of flexibility,” Secaur said. “Of course it also requires a great measure of responsibility and self-reliance because nobody tells these students what to do.”

Secaur said he advises students to take an online course only if they can follow directions well and work by themselves.

There are still many ways to interact with professors in online courses. Patricia Grutzmacher, associate professor of music, teaches an online degree course for students earning a master’s degree in music education. She said she checks her email several times a day to get back to these students in fewer than 24 hours.

“Communication with students has never been an issue with my online students,” Grutzmacher said. “There are times when I will be talking with students on a Saturday evening or early on a Sunday morning.”

Logan Tiller, freshman exercise science major, took the Understanding of Music online course. After completing the course, he said he realized taking online courses is more work than he expected.

“Through taking it, I came to realize that with online courses, you deal with a much bigger workload in comparison to classes you actually go to,” Tiller said. “I definitely prefer in-class courses since you have the benefits of having a professor there instead of relying on yourself to learn all the information.”

Huntsman said online courses have been available to students for close to 15 years, but the technology is much more advanced than when the programs first started. She said students from all over the world can take classes at Kent State.

“If you look at national trends, you see the profit of universities delivering degrees online typically have large online programs,” Huntsman said. “(Kent State) does not aspire to be a fully online university.”

Contact Megan Wilkinson at [email protected].