There are students who spend more time driving to campus than they do in classrooms, as they’re parked in traffic counting the minutes of classroom discussion that they’re missing.
“Imagine 40,000 students driving down Reseda trying to get to class, and then trying to park in the parking structure,” said CSUN Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Harry Hellenbrand. But this may soon change for more students.
Plans are underway to increase the number of online classes from 3 to 6 percent within the next two years, in addition to the 12 new classes being offered this semester.
While the pace of learning is at the fingertips of students via their keyboards and touchpads, these courses wouldn’t necessarily lose the quality of classes held on campus.
“Improving quality of instruction and education is the focus,” said Sandra Chong, professor of elementary education. “We want to ensure that quality isn’t minimized by putting it online.”
Chong works within the CSUN credential program and offers graduate students the option of taking online courses, allowing them to spend more time in elementary classrooms, which is part of their training.
Aside from being able to avoid gridlock and spend more time on other projects, another benefit of taking online classes is that they allow for more one-on-one contact with professors and classmates, said Scott Fitzgerald, professor of computer science.
“When the professor asks if anyone needs anything repeated or slowed down, do you raise your hand?” Fitzgerald said. “With online courses, students are given the option to slow down the lecture or Power point presentation without worrying about other students.”
Chong uses a face-to-face live lecture that asks students enrolled in the class to meet online and, with the use of webcams, interact with her. Students are able to view Chong and ask her questions about the lecture.
But online classes may intimidate students who are unfamiliar with technology.
“Some students might have anxiety over the technology, but there’s a lot of faculty to help support them,” Fitzgerald said.
This is where Randal Cummings, director of online instruction, can help. Cummings is available to help students who are new to the online course system. And there are many help labs that are set up throughout campus, including the collaboratory in the library.
Aside from being able to turn on a computer and navigate through the Internet, something more is required from students should they choose to take classes from the comfort of their living rooms.
“A person needs to be self-motivated. If you don’t have good study skills or if you are unmotivated then it can be easy to drop out of the class,” Cummings said.
Freshmen aren’t allowed to participate in online classes mainly because students’ first year needs to be spent in a traditional classroom settings.
“The freshmen experience is something that needs to be experienced on campus,” Chong said.
“I’m glad to hear that they’re adding more, CSUN student Jeremiah McDaniel said. “I took an online course last semester and didn’t have to worry about being slowed down or sped up with other students’ needs.”
The increase of online and hybrid classes will be occurring within the next few years. Students who may be interested in taking an online or hybrid course can go to www.csun.edu/online for a full listing of classes.
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