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A non-profit publication of the Office of the University Relations of Virginia Tech,
including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Fall on-line courses successful

By David Hartzell

Spectrum Volume 21 Issue 05 - September 24, 1998

The university is offering 13 totally on-line courses offered this fall. Students who have a computer and access to the Internet are able to take courses from anywhere in the world. Now, because of scheduling flexibility, students who co-op for a semester will be able to take a class to fulfill certain requirements while working at the same time.
"This is an attractive arrangement for students who are juggling work schedules, family responsibilities, vacation travel, and other activities yet want to take a class too," said Tom Wilkinson, the university's director of distributed and distance learning.
Eleven of the courses offered are undergraduate level. They range from Introduction to Sociology, Elementary Linear Algebra, and Technical Writing in the College of Arts and Sciences to Insects in Human Society in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
There are also several graduate-level courses offered. They are offered this semester in both the fully on-line format as well as some that are interactive video/internet courses.
On-line courses were offered during both sessions this summer. After the success of the summer program it was decided that they would be offered again this fall. The flexibility of the courses that appealed to students this summer seems to be continuing into the fall with over 800 students enrolled.
"This set of fall semester on-line courses was initiated by the College of Arts and Sciences in cooperation with the other colleges to increase the number of Cyberschool-style courses for students both on and off campus," said Timothy W. Luke, professor of political science, who coordinates the Cyberschool project with Len Hatfield, associate professor of English. "We also are now compiling the on-line course offerings for the 1999 spring semester and summer sessions," Luke said, "so that students can begin to organize their on-line studies in the near future around their co-op opportunities, summer job, and graduation plans."
These courses are open to students who are currently enrolled in degree-seeking programs at Virginia Tech as well as part-time visiting students. Despite having no outside advertising there have been several students enrolled in on-line courses who are not full-time Tech students. Interest in the courses has come from Virginia Tech Alumni, teachers, and people who are just interested in what the university has to offer through online courses.
Though these courses do not meet in a traditional classroom setting, there is plenty of interaction between the instructor and the students via e-mail and chat rooms. The instructors try to make the courses as interesting and as informative as possible through the use of different on-line resources.
"With the use of e-mail and chat rooms, students who might feel intimidated in a traditional classroom setting may become the most outspoken members of the class," said Andrew Wilan, a senior in English.
In addition to fully on-line courses, the university is beginning to offer entire degree programs on line as well as serve as a portal to other universities' on-line course offerings around Virginia and other southern states.
The course listing for this semester can be found at http://vto.vt.edu under the link "Fall Online Courses." For more information, contact Jeremy Hunsinger at jhuns@vt.edu; phone: 1-7614 or to Dave Hartzell at vtwebreg@vt.edu; phone: 1-6609.