By Jonathan Smith, Managing Editor
Summer online course registration has exceeded the initial target by almost 30 students, and sign-ups will continue throughout the semester.
More than 120 have registered for either Message of the Old Testament or Major British Writers I as of Monday, and K.B. Massingill, chief information officer, said enrollment could be capped.
Massingill said finding professors for the courses to keep a 20-1 student/faculty ratio will be the deciding factor in such a decision.
The online courses will allow students to choose when they access the class during the day. Doug Darby, multimedia coordinator for the Adams Center for Teaching Excellence, said students will need to access the classes daily to complete the work.
Students will have further flexibility on the pace of their work by choosing to take the course in either a Summer I or II session or spread it over both. Each session lasts four weeks; students choosing the longer, slower pace will have eight.
Using the Blackboard system on myACU, students will complete course work by interacting with each other on discussion boards and sometimes participating in group work through online chat rooms.
Massingill said a key to creating the online courses was the capability for students to interact.
“We really wanted to make sure the technology had gotten to a place where we could assure that students were going to be able to work in teams and communicate with one another,” he said.
To ensure any problems with the online technology do not interfere with completing coursework, Darby said students will have access to a 1-800 phone number they can call with questions, and a Team 55 computing support student-member will participate in each class to provide support.
These are not the first online courses the university has offered, Massingill said, but they are the first undergraduate courses offered over the Internet. The Graduate School of Theology has offered some of its classes online but on a limited basis.
“We were never comfortable with correspondence courses because it didn’t provide the interaction between the student and professor and between the students,” Massingill said.
George Saltsman, director of educational technology, said the university hopes to gradually add 10 more online courses over the course of successive summers.
Massingill said the idea for online courses came from the Entrepreneurial Strategic Solutions Team, organized by Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, in the fall. The team, working with Students in Free Enterprise, determined a need existed for more flexible courses. Darby said these classes fulfill that goal.
“This is just a natural reflection of how we are trying to meet the needs of our students,” Darby said. “We are trying to make sure the quality of the course you get online is no different than what you get in the classroom.”