“Currently we are catering more to the graduate programs, which we currently have 20 of, and only a handful of undergraduate classes,” said Monica DeTure, director of Distance Learning and Outreach Technology. “We are hoping in the near future that this changes. We are finally realizing that there is a need for different options for students. Some want to go home in the summer and still take classes, and others just need things to fit into their schedules.”
One of the biggest problems has been tuition. The classes are currently paid for separately than normal class loads in the summer.
DeTure said that problem will be solved this summer.
Brandon Massey, a senior in pre-pharmacy, said that he has resisted the urge to take online courses.
“I feel that ultimately they are ineffective,” Massey said. “They tend to force people to waste more time learning the communication program interface than they do actually learning and absorbing the material.”
Massey has instead taken classes during summer semesters at a community college.
“This migration away from Auburn is what we are looking to avoid,” DeTure said.
DeTure said the online courses are not for everyone and take a different style of learning.
“They take a very disciplined learner,” DeTure said. “Students who enroll are usually very good students and comfortable with technology.”
Deture said that studies have shown that students who take online courses perform as well or better than students in classrooms. DeTure also said that some classes are better suited for online learners than others.
“I personally would not take Calculus online,” DeTure said.
Nodya Boyko, who recently graduated with a master’s in English, said that she has mixed feelings about having to teach online courses.
“The idea and importance of human contact is extremely underestimated,” Boyko said.
Boyko said that in a class she taught last semester, students were asked to participate in online discussion boards. Several of the students, who participated regularly in the classroom, she found were less vocal online.
“Interactions with other students and peers are invaluable later on down the line in life,” Boyko said.
DeTure said that the DLOT office hopes to become more involved with students taking online courses. Currently the individual departments offering online courses are responsible for handling course advising and other academic support. DeTure said right now a lot of their time is being spent educating the faculty in how to better assist the students. They hope in the near future to be able to offer complete online tutoring.
The DLOT Web site has several resources for students to use who are thinking about or preparing to take online courses. It also has a checklist for students to see if online courses are right for them.
For more information, students can contact the Distance Learning and Outreach Technology office at 334-844-5103 or by e-mail at email@example.com.