Traditional classes win out

Online-only courses not likely for Flagler, Miller says

By Glenn Judah

Flagler College owns and uses the technology necessary, like WebCT, to offer online courses. But Paula Miller, dean of academic affairs, does not see the creation of online classes at Flagler College happening anytime soon.

“At Flagler we strive to give our students a personal touch,” Miller said.

She believes that part of the charm of Flagler College is the personal relationships created by professors and students. This interaction is invaluable to the educational process in Miller’s opinion.

“Students get to live through their educational experience by attending classes, engaging in class discussions, discussing how their thoughts and beliefs compare with their peers and instructors and continuing to discuss issues outside of the classroom,” Miller said. “That experience is different than just reading and participating in a chatroom online.”

According to the Associated Press, 3.2 million college students experienced an online classroom in 2005. The number of online students grew by 30 percent last year according to the North American Council for Online Learning.

The increasing popularity for online classes is due to their convenience. Students who work long hours and don’t have the time to sit in class use the flexibility of online classes to their advantage. Some students also prefer taking online courses as they don’t have to commute to class.

Miller has done exactly that. In previous semesters, her days were filled working at Flagler, but she was also taking online classes towards her doctorate in educational leadership at Nova Southeastern.

“Online classes are the only way for some people to receive an education,” Miller said.

There is also a big difference between getting an undergraduate degree online and a graduate degree online Miller said.

“An undergraduate degree received at Flagler encompasses so many different disciplines that some of these disciplines are hard to grasp in online classes,” Miller said.

Online classes are not just being used at the college level. Michigan became the first state last year to require high school students to take at least one class online to graduate.

Kathleen Eide, professor of education at Flagler College, believes this trend is happening because students are being introduced to technology at a younger age.

“My guess is more online classes will be created [nationally] because students’ backgrounds are in these types of information,” Eide said. “Students are used to handling those programs needed for online classes at an earlier level.”

Eide sees multimedia and online classes as a great teaching tool, but not in every situation.

“I don’t see technology replacing teachers, but I guess it could happen,” Eide said.

Online classes have become so popular that there are schools that only offer classes online.

There are 26 online universities listed on Florida Metropolitan University Online offers degrees in business, accounting, criminal justice and informational technology.

More online colleges are being created because of their cost effectiveness. These colleges don’t have to provide classrooms, libraries or student centers which costs money to build and maintain.

Housing fees are not an issue for students either because they do their school work from home. This allows them to offer lowered priced tuition.

Miller is keeping an eye on online universities and their results because of those features.

“I follow this very closely,” Miller said. “[Colleges and universities] that are totally online could be a threat to Flagler College and other traditional colleges and universities.”

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