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Online per-credit fee to support technology

May 7, 2010

UW-River Falls students who are going to be taking an online course this summer should know they will have to pay an extra $45 per credit.

UWRF has implemented a new per-credit course fee connected to all online classes that will go into effect this summer. The fee is $45 per credit for any class outside of the College of Business and Economics (CBE), and $150 per credit for any course within CBE, according to the University’s Web site.

As the University moves towards providing more online classes, “the $45 fee will help fund the development of those classes,” said director of Integrated Planning, Kristen Hendrickson. “The fee will also go towards technology support and a portion of the CBE fee will go to the library for addition online databases.”

With the fees generated from this summer’s online courses, the CBE will be giving the library around $6,600, according to Library Director Valerie Malzacher. The decision to allocate money to the library was “a decision they made and I am really grateful that they recognize the need to provide access and seek funds to provide online resources.”

The library spends around $200,000 a year on online resources, said Malzacher. A common business database, Reference USA, cost around $6,000 a year. Malzacher said she thinks the additional databases will make the online courses stronger and will provide the needed infrastructure for education.

The online course fee was something University officials had been thinking about for some time, said Hendrickson. A group of faculty, which included the dean of the CBE, Glenn Potts, put together a proposal for an online course fee. The recommendation was approved by the vice chancellor of administration and finance and went to the executive cabinet for final approval. The cabinet includes the chancellor, provost, vice chancellor of student affairs and vice chancellor of administration and finance.

As of April 27, there are 78 online courses offered for summer with 870 students enrolled, according to data received from Assistant Registrar Rich Kathan. Excluding the tuition for the summer online courses, the University will bring in around $111,600 from the per-credit course fee.

Tuition for summer is due June 1 and there will be no option for a payment plan. As of right now hybrid courses—a combination of a face-to-face course and online—will not be charged the online course fee, said director of Accounts Receivable Brenda Rudberg.

Another way the University is providing support for the online classes is by hiring an instructional designer to help train teachers on how to effectively teach online classes.

Instructional Designer Scott Wojtanowski, who has his Masters in learning technologies from the University of Minnesota, leads a training session that helps teachers through the process of successfully translating their face-to-face course online. By going through this program, teachers will have their course developed and reviewed before students can take the course.

“Once the students are enrolled and the teacher begins the course, a $1,000 per-credit stipend is offered to the teachers,” said Wojtanowski.

CBE online courses not only have the universal $45 fee but also have an extra $105 per credit. The online course fee has been $150 for about two years, said Potts.

“The additional fee helps pay for some of the costs associated with an AACSB accredited business program,” said Potts.

UWRF junior Brett La Valley, is taking an online finance class through CBE. La Valley said he wants to finish school in a year and half. If he doesn’t take the online finance class it would take him another semester. A native of Detroit, Mich., La Valley will be able to go home and work full time while also taking an online class.

La Valley said he didn’t know about the new percredit fee and thinks the school is ripping him off.

“I like this school because it provides a decent education at a good value. By charging the extra money, it seems the school is ruining what’s good about it.”

La Valley will be paying around $1,100 for the threecredit finance class which will amount to “about 30 percent of my semester tuition when I take five courses.”

Sixty percent of the students that are currently enrolled in summer classes are taking online courses. In the coming years, that number is likely to increase.

“In the not so distant future, most or all summer and J-Term courses will be offered online, and a number of opportunities during the regular year as well,” said Potts.