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Monday, October 27, 2014

Online courses lack hands-on learning, says SRU professors and students

"The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is collectively offering over 600 online courses for students to take over holiday break. Students in PASSHE can take up to two online classes over holiday break." according to SRU The Online Rocket.


Slippery Rock University offers over 70 online classes for students to take over the winter semester, called “winter session.” Taking online courses are an opportunity for students to get ahead or catch up on credits, but the methods behind online classes bring mixed emotions among SRU staff and students.

Dr. George Brown, chair of the Political Science Department and political science professor with a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, 62, embraces mixed forms of learning, even though he teaches online.

Brown welcomes student questions about teaching methods. Teaching a Political Film course in the summer for several years with an occasional online class during the school year, Brown knows a thing or two about what happens in the online class setting. Generally, Brown describes the experience as positive.

In his online classes, students watch films about war, which include documentaries and feature films, on their computers and respond to online discussions and quizzes around their own schedules. One concern Brown has with regard to online classes is the opportunity for academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty is often harder to spot online, with students able to see peer discussion answers or look up information on a particular film. One way to spot dishonesty is setting up the videos through D2L. With D2L, professors can see how long a link was actually viewed. However, Brown maintains that most students are motivated to watch and think about the films and while academic dishonesty does happen, it is not often.

“I like doing that particular course, but I really prefer the mix,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t want to do all my classes online, that’s for sure.”

With the differences in online and face-to-face learning, there are considerations for students to make.   With an online class like Dr. Brown’s, what technical issues might you face? Things like slow internet speed or virus software can get in the way of the ability to complete an assignment, especially when waiting until the last minute. Additionally, Brown says an online class might be more work than you think, especially if you carry a heavy work schedule during the time of the online class.

Online classes are offered at SRU during fall, spring, summer, and winter sessions. While the classes aren’t always exactly the same, you can typically find several liberal studies courses as well as some major-specific courses. As seen on the SRU website, SRU even offers online graduate programs and an online RN to BSN program for nursing.
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Source: SRU The Online Rocket