CSU launches new online course program in all 23 campuses

Illustration by: Jasmine Mochizuki / Visual Editor
Illustration by: Jasmine Mochizuki / Visual Editor

This fall students enrolled in any of the 23 CSU campuses will have access to a selection of online classes as part of a system wide effort to alleviate congestion in high-demand courses.

The online courses offered are part of the Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment Program (ICE). It was launched on Aug 1.

Both freshmen and transfer students at any CSU campus have the option of taking a general education (GE) course through the program at another CSU school. But to enroll, students must be in good academic standing and can only register at campuses that follow the same term schedule — quarter or semester — as their home campus.

Courses completed at another campus with a passing grade will then count toward the students’ GE requirement. Students can register for any of the 36 online classes such as visual communications, mathematics, biology, critical reasoning, and science.

ICE will only offer courses that have already been established at different CSU’s. This way, administration and faculty will know how many classes they need to offer to meet the demand.

At CSUN introductory statistics, physical geography, observational astronomy and elementary astronomy are offered as ICE classes.

CSU Spokesman Erik Fallis said the goal of the ICE program is to reduce the influx of students waiting to register for the “bottleneck” courses, which are the popular upper and lower division courses required to graduate.

“These classes tend to be the ones that hold students up as they progress toward their degree,” Fallis said.

The ICE program is being offered this fall due to increased state funding, enabling the CSU system to reinvest in adding additional classes throughout the state. Fallis said the financial support from the government is a welcome change.

“We lost $1 billion in state support over six years so, of course, that cut is being felt by universities and students,” Fallis said. “It has made offering courses and other services much more difficult.”

The CSU system is expected to see 15,000 to 20,000 students enrolled for Spring 2014. Fallis said the new selection of online courses will allow students to save time and money while finishing their degree on time.

“If I need one calculus class, and I can take it at [CSU] Fullerton, great!” said Asa S. Mittman, CSU Chico art history professor.  “For GE courses, most students are looking to get it out of their way so they can get back to their major.”

Mittman, who is also authoring an e-book, has been teaching online classes at his campus for five years. His classes feature a podcast, links to art videos on YouTube and a comments forum his students can contribute to.

“Traditional students think of their interaction online and in-person as fairly seamlessly interacting with one another. They don’t have that longing for human to human contact all the time,“ Mittman said.

Valerie Arabome, a biology major at CSUN has taken online classes before and considers them more difficult to complete than a traditional lecture hall class.

“It was horrible. I like going to class better because online classes didn’t really help,” Arabome said. “You are basically learning by yourself. It was harder than if you actually went to class.”

Say-Peng Lim, CSUN physics and astronomy department chair, said while online classes allow students to work on subject matter at their leisure, students should show the same level of commitment to these classes as they would to a regular course.

“What you find is that a lot of the learning comes from the individual effort,” Lim said.

“The misconception is that an online class is easier. No teacher is going to design an online class that is easier. You still have to put in the effort and the time.”

Jessica Park, a business management major at CSUN, believes math and science classes are not the best courses to offer online. She feels online classes are good choices for students who wish to study by themselves and on their own time.

“It was more helpful taking the class online,” said Park who took a hybrid economics course two semesters ago. “It was better than waking up at 8 a.m., when I am not really ready to hear anything, and then it’s just going in through one ear and out the other.”

Enrollment for ICE is open to current students and students applying for admission in Spring 2014.

Students are strongly advised to seek academic counseling prior to enrolling in any online course.