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Monday, September 08, 2014

Online learning: Past, present and future

Photo: Daryl Yarrow
"New technologies have changed today’s classroom – at all levels – in ways unimaginable two decades ago. Students can reach for their iPad to access texts or reading material. They can connect with others in another city via video or web conferencing. And what’s more, they can create their own classroom at their home computer, completing courses or entire degrees online." summarizes Daryl Yarrow, Colorado Mountain College vice president.

Maybe you’ve formed an opinion about online classes or degrees. Proponents say they add more options and flexibility. Critics fear students miss out on lively face-to-face debate. Over the years, online learning has changed by leaps and bounds from the days of its predecessor “telecourses” consisting of prerecorded, videotaped lectures and mail-in assignments.

Like most universities and colleges across the country, Colorado Mountain College offers many classes that can be taken online. These include a variety of general education as well as specialty courses. In the past 10 years, the number of online classes offered at CMC has doubled, as has student enrollment in online courses. We now offer six associate degrees and eight certificates completely online.

As you might expect, online learning classes do provide students with more options and flexibility as a course can be completed on the student’s schedule – day or night – allowing adaptation into a busy work or family schedule. Whereas schedules might only permit students to take two or three face-to-face classes in a semester, online learning allows them to possibly take four or five, thus moving them more quickly toward degree completion. Our department’s unofficial motto is: Online learning helps make graduation possible.

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