Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

October 12, 2006

Opting for online courses

By GINA KINSLOW

GLASGOW — Holden Johnson is one of several Western Kentucky University students who have opted to take an online course this semester.

He did it because of the convenience it afforded him.

“You don’t have to leave your apartment,” he said.

Johnson, a Tompkinsville business management major, is only required to actually go to class twice during the semester, which is one aspect of taking the class that he likes.

Taking an online class isn’t necessarily any harder than taking a class in a regular classroom setting, but Johnson said however, “you do have to make yourself be more responsible.”

Johnson likes taking classes online and thinks he will take more before his college career comes to an end, but he doubts he will take as many as his friend, who has taken all of his classes online for the past two years.

Actually going to class, he said, is half the fun of going to college.

“I like the environment of being in the classroom,” he said.

Ashley Jones, a Scottsville education major, plans to take an online class during the winter term so she can do the work on her own time.

“I don’t want to be in a classroom for hours,” she said.

Unlike Johnson, if Jones could take all of her classes online, she would.

By taking an online class, Jones said she can work ahead. She can do a week’s worth of work in one day if she chooses.

For some taking classes online is a new and trendy thing to do, but WKU has been offering online courses for quite some time.

Western offered its first online class, which was a graduate course, in the fall of 1998.

“It’s grown rapidly since 1998,” Pam Wilson, Western’s distance learning coordinator, said.

In fact, the number of online courses offered by WKU have increased every year, she said.

This semester Western is offering 117 graduate courses and 147 graduate courses online.

Students can even earn associate, bachelor and master degrees online.

“We do have a few and we’re trying to add more,” Wilson said.

Wilson is constantly receiving requests from students for more online courses.

“I get requests for business degrees for undergraduates,” she said.

There is an effort to get faculty members to put more of the general education requirement classes online, she said.

Students take online courses for a variety of reasons.

“Typically, what we find with the undergraduate and graduate students who take online courses is that they take them because it frees them up to work more hours, or it frees up the rest of their schedule,” Wilson said. “For graduates, it’s the flexibility and then for nontraditional students, people who have already completed bachelor’s degrees, it’s a lot easier to take online classes because it fits with your child care needs and your job requirements.”

Students don’t necessarily have to own a computer in order to take an online class, although owning a computer would make taking the class easier.

Those who attend WKU’s Glasgow Campus can come to the resource room there and do their online course work, Dr. Juanita Bayless, director of WKU’s Glasgow Campus, said. “We try to make sure we accommodate those who are using that measure of delivery,” she said.

Taking classes online is a national trend, Beth Laves, assistant to the dean of program development in the division of Extended Learning and Outreach.

“Interest in online education across the country has grown phenomenally,” she said.

Laves pointed out that the University of Phoenix offers almost all of its programs online, and is the leader in offering the most online courses.

Regardless of whether a Western students take classes in a regular classroom setting or online, Laves said, the quality of education they receive is the same.

For more information about online courses offered by WKU visit www.wku.edu.