MARIETTA - Washington State Community College is providing an opportunity starting this month for people to dip their toes into the waters of e-learning.
Online courses are an area of growth at the college, with 78 courses, two degrees and one certificate being offered completely online. To give prospective students a chance to see if e-learning is a good fit for them, a free, five-day course will be offered starting on Oct. 14.
"We're going to offer it on a weekly basis," said Ziad Akir, director of e-learning at Washington State. "It's a form of making sure they are ready before taking online (classes)."
Students need to be comfortable with typing, using a computer and common computer programs, Akir said. The course touches on the skills needed, which also include time management and study skills.
People can sign up by going to elearning.wscc.edu/registration.html.
Online courses offer more flexibility for students, especially non-traditional ones, Akir said. But that also presents additional challenges.
"They have to be very disciplined," said English instructor Amanda Anderson, who teaches online courses in composition, technical writing and theater online. "If they fall off track, it can be difficult to get back on track."
Student Brandon Kring, 20, of Newport took an online music appreciation class in the fall 2012 semester because it fit in well with the rest of his schedule.
"You have to have a will to do the work, instead of being in class and the teacher makes sure you do it," he said.
Students in online courses can still interact regularly with their instructors.
"For me, the online class is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week class ... at least for access," said adjunct faculty member Paula Johnson, who teaches biological and health science classes online. Anderson communicates with students via email and text and schedules conferences with them either online, via phone or in person. "It's not like you don't ever get to talk to the professor in a one-on-one (setting)," she said.
Students from 13 different states are taking 2,141 credit hours online this semester, Akir said. Because only two degree programs are completely online - industrial technology-process technician and liberal arts transfer - most of the students also attend the college's traditional classes. A number of out-of-state students are enrolled in the chemical operator certificate program, which can also be completed totally online, Akir said.