More classes moving to Internet

Sarah Spaulding

Online courses will be discounted starting in fall

From TracFones to iPhones or snail mail to Facebook, technology is advancing and in the next few years, college students are expected to make the transition from the classroom to the chatroom.

As of 2009, approximately 1.25 million college students take all of their classes online with almost 11 million taking at least some classes online, according to an October 2009 report by research firm Ambient Insight.

Based on trends in the growth of the electronic learning environment, the same report predicts that by 2014 the number of students taking all of their classes online will climb to around 3.5 million and those taking some classes online will jump to almost 19 million.

Deborah Huntsman, Executive Director of Continuing and Distance Education, is seeing a similar trend at Kent State.

“Certainly, the numbers are just going through the roof,” she said. “I recently saw a number of 450,000 (Kent State) students have studied this year (exclusively) online. That number tends to grow in double digits year over year and has been doing that for a decade or more now.”

Students’ opinions of the switch are divided but many agree that being completely online would pose pros and cons.

“I sometimes feel with online classes that you really don’t learn as much because you’re pretty much just reading a book and taking quizzes,” Danielle Dehart, senior fashion merchandising major, said. “Although, I like that it’s a little simpler.”

Stefan Dhil, freshman computer design and gaming innovations major, has had a similar problem with the oversimplified course material in online courses.

“I have a class that is an advanced program and the book I have doesn’t tell you to do certain things, it just says do it,” he said. “So, if you have a question about it and you’ve never done it before, how are you going to be able to figure it out?”

The biggest concern with being entirely online is the lack of personal contact. Many students, like Owen Park, freshman integrated language arts major, prefer the classroom environment because it offers opportunities to meet new people and ask for help instantaneously.

“I’ve never taken any (classes online), but just being able to do it on your own time rather than having to go to class, that’s a big thing,” he said. “I’m not really a fan though.”

Huntsman explained that the university has created a distance learning team to help faculty develop and implement state-of-the-art online courses that follow national Quality Matters Standards, which ensure that students are still receiving a quality education without the classroom and with a much smaller price tag.

“Last fall we received approval from the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents to reduce the out-of-state fees for fully online courses,” she said. “So, that new fee structure will go into effect in the fall semester, which means students who are enrolling in fully online courses will be able to do so for $10 per credit hour, which is a significant reduction in cost for an out-of-state student.”

University officials hope that with lower prices and higher standards, students on and off-campus will follow the trend toward online learning.

Contact student life reporter Sarah Spaulding at [email protected].