Summer courses offered on line
By Catherine Doss
Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 28 - April 16, 1998
Virginia Tech will offer 20 courses totally on line this summer, allowing students to take classes from anywhere in the world.
"This is not the first time we've offered on-line courses but certainly the first time we've offered such an extensive array of courses that are one hundred percent on line, requiring no site-based activity whatsoever, during the summer sessions," said David Ford, vice provost for academic affairs. This summer initiative is being funded by the Provost's Office, the College of Arts and Sciences, and individual departments.
Nineteen of the courses are undergraduate level. They range from Introduction to the Internet, Technical Writing, and Science Fiction in the College of Arts and Sciences to Insects and Human Society in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Childhood and Adolescence in the College of Human Resources and Education. Students who have a computer and access to the Internet via a web browser can take the on-line courses.
Totally on-line courses use a combination of these elements: e-mail, websites, bulletin boards, chat rooms, netforums, and use of Internet and/or web-based resources for research. Most of the courses operate totally or primarily asynchronously meaning the instructor and students do not gather at the same physical location or at the same time in order for learning to take place.
In Cosby Rogers' Childhood and Adolescence course, for example, students study at their own pace, downloading weekly assignments and quizzes off the course web site (http://www.chre.vt.edu/cdfs/game_plan/game_plan.html). They take virtual tours of the university's lab school and make observations based on photos and video clips of children playing and interacting.
Rogers, whose project was funded through a grant from the Center for Innovation in Learning, said the new course design is beneficial to everyone.
"It enables my students to learn in their own style and pace and to track their own progress," she said. Rogers is offering the on-line course for the first time this semester.
A telephone survey of summer students conducted last fall indicated that location and scheduling of summer courses were significant concerns. Many students leave the Blacksburg campus during the summer to seek employment or internship opportunities elsewhere.
"While many students want to continue their studies in the summer, attending summer sessions in Blacksburg is not always feasible," Ford said. "Yet they said they valued the academic reputation and quality of teaching available at Virginia Tech. On-line summer courses offer a solution and a unique academic experience."
In addition to Tech students, others may also apply to take these courses as non-degree or visiting students. For a complete list of on-line summer courses or to apply for summer-session admission through the Internet, go to http://www.summer.vt.edu or contact the Summer Sessions Office, Virginia Tech, 104 Burruss Hall, Blacksburg, VA; phone 1-5870.