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Online courses offer UW students more flexibility

April 30, 2009

As budget cuts continue to take their toll on the number of new professors hired, courses offered and class sizes at UW-River Falls, more students are looking to online classes to fulfill program requirements.

“We currently offer between 40-70 online courses a semester,” UWRF Registrar Dan Vande Yacht said in an e-mail interview. “Most online courses here are offered by the Graduate School.”

Vande Yacht also said that demand for online courses at the University has increased over the past few years.

“I believe that P ED 108 [online] helps students greatly with meeting degree requirements,” he said. “I also believe a lot of students utilize UW Colleges Online to complete some General Education requirements during the summer and during the academic year.”

UW Colleges Online is a system that allows students from UW System schools to take online courses and have them count towards their degree requirements. The program “offers readily-transferable general education curriculum at its 13 two-year campuses across the state,” according to its Web site.

Courses offered by UW Colleges Online range in variety from art, chemistry, history and political science, among many others. Credits earned through the UW Colleges Online program transfer to most UW System schools and are “widely accepted by other institutions.”

Vande Yacht said he believes that online classes offer students more flexibility and convenience in their course schedules. However, he said that they can also require students to be more responsible.

“Most online courses do not allow for procrastination,” he said. “Students need to be self-motivated and have good time management skills.”

In addition, he said the learning style of online courses does not benefit all students.

“Some people learn better in a traditional classroom and would miss the face-to-face interaction and attention from professors and other students,” Vande Yacht said.

UWRF junior Becky Gaiovnik said she enjoys the flexibility that online courses offer.

“I really like online classes,” she said. “I feel like it makes it easier with my busy schedule to get things done because I don’t have to actually go to class and I can read the lecture when I have time.”

Gaiovnik said she has taken a number of online classes at UWRF, including P ED 108 (Health and Fitness for Life) and MARC 100 (Introduction to Marketing Communications). Both, she said, have allowed her the ability to work at a pace that suits her.

“It’s really nice to be able to work ahead if I know I’m going to have a busy week,” she said. “However, I think the University should offer more [variety of] online classes instead of most of them being graduate classes.”

According to a poll on the Student Voice Web site, 74 percent of responders think UWRF should offer more online courses.

Gaiovnik said she had never heard of the UW Colleges Online program, but thinks it is a great way to help students work on their degree.

“It sounds like a convenient way to help finish up degree requirements,” she said. “With everyone’s lives so busy these days—including college students—online courses just seem like an effective way to get classes done.”