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Surfing the web: Online classes on the rise


     When asked why students take on­line courses, the answer is always flex­ibility.

     “Based on what I learn, a lot of students take it for its convenience. You don’t have to be in class at a certain time,” said Ken Craver, director of Dis­tance Education.

     Distance learning is the fastest growing education source not only for students at Tyler Junior College, but for people all over the world. Distance Ed­ucation, also known as Online courses, help students pick classes that are not offered at a specific time to fit their daily schedules.

     “It’s gone up fairly dramatic,” said Craver. “Over half of our students take at least one distance education course per semester.”

     Most of the time, distance educa­tion affects the older demographic of the campus. Not everyone can be on campus all day and it’s a hassle trying to balance a full time job and be a college student.

     “A face-to-face-class may not be available for them because they have children at home,” said Craver. “If they work, they can access the course from anywhere and work on the course on their own time.”

     Some students cannot make it to campus on a daily basis because they live far away.

     “Students that live a fair distance away, as in they may live in Van, an on­line course may be available for them so they can save some driving time,” said Craver.

     Distance education is run on a server called Blackboard. It is found un­der the Apache Access tab titled “Online Courses” which is ran by the blackboard system. While others find the website easy to navigate, not everyone has the same view on online courses. Online courses are not for everyone.

     “I personally do not like online courses because I don’t get the hands on training I need,” said Cindy Nguyen, a sophomore at TJC. “I’m constantly running up to my chemistry professor after class and I could just imagine the amount of stress I would have not get­ting help right then and there.”

     Some students are finding it diffi­cult to work the setup under the Black­board system. They simply just do not know where to begin. Sheree Webb, instructional designer of the Distance Education department, is constantly collaborating with professors to make sure that the site is easy to use.

     “Some of the things I work on with the faculty is having a Start Here Mod­ule,” said Webb. “This is so they know how the course is going to work. They are separated into modules and if you see module one, you know that you’re going to start there first.”

     Distance education also offers classes known as a hybrid classes. Hy­brid classes alternate between being in both the classroom and online. Typically, they vary from meeting once a week in the classroom, and the rest of the week being online for course work to be finished meeting in class once a week can give students a chance to get questions answered they had on assign­ments. Many professors find this a way to get more training to the students.

     “By taking an online hybrid course, my students have more opportunity to work on hands-on projects,” said Rachel Jennische, Professor of Journalism.

     Not everyone has trouble with online courses. Some people are finding that they are easier to manage, because you can access them at anytime during the day, no matter where you are.

     “I think it is very straight forward,” said Jose Arias, a freshman at TJC. “I think it’s just the way the teachers communicate with you through e-mail and they can’t throw any curve balls at you.”

     Online classes may give you more flexibility and time, but it’s not a good idea to just put all of the work off to the last minute. On­line classes require discipline and a commitment from the students.

     “You have to be more self-disciplined and self-motivated when you do the online courses,” said Webb. “When you procrastinate, that’s when you get yourself in trouble.”

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