Online Learning OFFERS Freedom, Communication challenges
By VICTORIA MARTIN
When people think of college, they often think of dorm rooms, classes with long lectures and a set schedule. However, for many students, college is coming home, opening up a laptop and completing homework and tests without having to set foot on a college campus.
According to Ryan Barnhart, assistant director of marketing and recruitment for web-based based programs, there are 2,000 to 2,500 online students enrolled at California University of Pennsylvania. The demographic is diverse, from “traditional” 20-year-olds, to people in their 60s, and from 10 or 11 countries, Barnhart said.
Those who are taking online courses at Cal U can get their degree on their time, and there is no differentiation between a global online degree and a regular diploma from the university, Barnhart said.
However, online classes require more than just showing up to class.
“Technical issues are unpredictability of network access, lack of direct on-demand support, and certain students can’t access portions of their class because of software issues,” said Keith Davis, a senior computer information science major.
Davis works at Cal’s U Tech Services. He said most of the gripes he gets are about difficulty accessing material and not understanding the technology. It is hard for some people to access material and e-mails because there is not always a lot of preparation, Davis said.
Cal U’s online courses use the Desire2Learn platform. Online students can find tutorials on how to use Desire2Learn on the Cal U website.
Kylee Sebastian, a senior tourism studies major, said her online classes have been harder but have helped her to do better.
“I have to teach myself class. Reading the