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Online class attracts various students

February 24, 2011

UW-River Falls students and alumni who have taken online classes have different opinions on the quality of education they have derived from taking a class in the online format.

Marketing communications junior Janie Hanson has taken three online courses at UWRF. She said she does not feel like she receives the same quality of education as she does in traditional classes.

“I feel like if I would have been in the classroom I would have learned far more,” Hanson said.

In one particular online class Hanson took, the “Desire2Learn” or D2L, discussion platform was used for students to share their thoughts with each other.

Hanson said she felt this made communication with her peers difficult, because not all students would be online at the same time.

She added that sometimes, she forgot to check back to see other student’s comments who had posted after her.

Elementary education freshman Megan Stedt said that she liked the online class she took last semester. The ability to work at her own pace was a positive aspect of the course being held online, Stedt said.

She added that the lack of immediate response from the professor, something you would get from sitting in the classroom, was something that she disliked about the course.

“It’s hard to get the teachers opinions,” Stedt said.

Recent Business Administration-Finance graduate Caleb Feyereisen said he would have taken more online classes at UW-River Falls if he had gotten the opportunity to.

He said the class he took, MNGT 340 Ethical Leadership, was easier than a traditional in-class course, “but also more difficult because I needed to be self-directed in terms of homework and scheduling.”

He added that the level of discussion in the online course was more than what he experienced in an in-class setting.

Despite how much students feel they have learned in their online classes, they still are receiving passing grades.

During the course of the 09-10 academic year, including winter and summer terms, 3,764 students took online classes, according to the Office of Integrated Planning.

Of all the grades given out, 49.4 percent were A’s, 21.2 percent were B’s, 10.8 percent were C’s, 3.2 percent were D’s, and 4.3 percent were F’s.

That means of the 3,764 students, about 161 students over the course of the whole 09-10 school year received an F in their online course. The remainder of students either ended up dropping the course or received an incomplete.

Professors are not just left on their own to develop a quality online class.

The Online Teaching Institute is a course offered to UWRF professors, to help them transform their traditional in-class courses into effective online courses that provide the highest level of learning possible to students.

Instructional Designer Scott Wojtanowski helps professors develop courses for the online format through the Online Teaching Institute.

Through this semester long course, professors work on developing an actual course that is being offered online. Wojtanowski leads group discussion, where professors can share with each other the struggles and successes they are dealing with. Wojtanowski also provides one on one assistance to professors to help work out the kinks.

“We are trying to accommodate students needs while providing a high quality learning experience,” Wojtanowski said. He added that the quality of the online learning experience has come a long way since the first online class was offered, where the student received a book to read and took an online test on the

material.

Discussion topics covered in the Online Teaching Institute include, “How are online interactions different than face-to-face interactions?” and “How can my class collaborate online?”,  according to a schedule for the Fall 2010 Online Teaching Institute.

Professors involved in this program not only develop their online course throughout the term of the institute, they also get the experience of being a student by taking online quizzes and going through the course themselves.