UNTANGLING THE WEB OF ONLINE CLASSES

UNTANGLING THE WEB OF ONLINE CLASSES

Melissa Spaide, Contributing writer

Online classes are beginning to gain momentum at IUS. More online class options are being added each semester to keep with the rising demand, Mary Beth Nanz, assistant registrar, said. There can be many reasons why a student chooses to take an online class However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Advantages
Online classes offer more flexibility, Sarah Frederick, psychology senior said.
“I’ve taken three online classes because they fit into my schedule,” she said. “If you are busy during the day like I am, it’s easier to come home at night after work and do class work on your time.”
Jessica Sarver, academic advisor in the School of Natural Sciences, said online learning helps some students learn more because they are graded on their participation in the class. It is harder to sit back and take in the class when being forced to be interactive.
“Online classes teach responsibility and time management,” Sarver said. “It also teaches students that they are in charge of their education because somebody isn’t forcing them to do the work.”
A mixture of traditional classes and online classes could help lessen the hectic demands of life, Kimberly Pelle, coordinator of Non-Traditional Student Programs, said.
“With jobs, families [and] schedules, online courses may help, but online courses are not for everybody,” Pelle said. “Students should talk with their advisors about their options.”

Misconceptions
A common misconception among students is that online courses are easier than those which are face-to-face. While they can offer advantages for students, it is still a class, Renée Petrina, instructional design and technology specialist, said.
“Don’t think it’s going to be a cake walk,” she said. “Professors don’t want to lose the rigor of an IU degree.”
Another misconception is that the amount of time committed is lower than a traditional course. At times, students seem to believe it will not take much time and can be done quickly, Anne Gurensey Allen, professor of fine arts said.
“It’s not going to be easier and it does take time,” Allen said. “People think that they don’t have to come to class, but they do. It’s just a different type of class.”
A typical three-credit hour course should require approximately twelve hours a week outside of class time. Petrina said this will be true with an online class as well.
Speaking with other students that have taken online classes to help them determine if online coursework is right for them is an option as well, Pelle said.

If you are busy during the day like I am, it’s easier to come home at night after work and do class work on your time”

Tips for Success
To be successful in an online class, students must be self-directed and self- motivated, Petrina said.
“For some students, when they don’t have to see a professor, it can be ‘out of sight out of mind,’” Petrina said. “If they need to be reminded or are easily distracted online, it might not be the best option.”
It is important to reach out to the professor if a student is having problems in the class. In face-to-face classes, a professor can see when a student does not understand, but in a digital environment, there is no body language, Petrina said.
“Sometimes you have to talk to a person to understand,” Frederick said. “I’ve met with professors after not understanding material, through emails.”
Allen said she invites her traditional classroom or online students to visit during her office hours if they need help. Other professors do the same thing, she said.
“Students have to be proactive,” Allen said. “Plan the whole semester out and stick to it. Don’t procrastinate, know due dates, ask questions and interact with others.”
One of the first assignments Allen said she gives her online classes is to make a calendar schedule for the class. They are to block off time each week that will be dedicated to her course.
“I don’t know if they use it or not, but I attempt to get it into people’s heads that they need to block out time for this,” Allen said.
This is something Allen said she believes any student taking an online course should consider: using a calendar and blocking out specific time each week to complete course material.
There are different types of online classes as well, Petrina said. IUS offers online-all courses, where all the work is online, online-interactive, where the majority of work is done online with a few on campus meetings, and hybrid courses where there is a mixture of online work and in-class meetings.
Petrina recommends that students look through the course listings and see what works best for them.

How to Find Online Courses
On the IUS homepage, there is a link to the schedule of classes. There is also an option to view only online classes. Classes can also be found through Onestart under the Student Center by following the link to search for classes.
Another option is Metroversity, a program where courses from other schools can apply to the IU degree, Sarver said. While a complete list of classes doesn’t exist, students can find a list of participating schools at
www.metroversity.org.
“Once a student chooses a school, they must find a course that transfers,” Sarver said. “Students should then talk to their advisors about the course to learn if the credits would transfer and to get the process started.”
Whether through IUS or another institution, one of the most important things to remember is that an online class is still a class and should be treated as such, Petrina said.
“A student’s success depends on a student’s ability to be self- motivated and to put in the effort,” Petrina said.