New summer courses offered

New online and hybrid courses will bring in new technology and flexibility to students interested in taking summer courses.
There will be nine fully online courses and 12 hybrid courses, with both online and in-classroom work, offered this summer as part of a pilot program.
Mary Macmanus Ramsbottom, associate provost for Student Academic Affairs, said the university is introducing these courses because they are becoming more common at other universities and because students have shown interest in them.
Last April, a survey went out to both students and faculty to guage the level of interest for summer online or hybrid courses.
More than 700 students took the survey, and two-thirds indicated they would be interested in online or hybrid summer courses.
“It’s driven by trying to anticipate and address the student’s desire might be to move in this direction, while at the same time ensuring they’re going to get Butler quality in terms of the teaching and faculty involved in it,” Ramsbottom said.
Ramsbottom said not only do these courses offer time and place flexibility for students, the courses also offer security in knowing the course is guaranteed to count for Butler credit and was developed by Butler faculty.
Julianne Miranda, director of eLearning, works with the different colleges at the university to help figure out ways to provide diverse course offerings for students.
Miranda and the Center for Academic Technology train faculty in the methods of teaching fully online or hybrid courses to help them take course content and transform it to fit the new formats.
The hybrid courses have been used before in the College of Education for some graduate classes. An example of how a hybrid class works would be meeting once a week on campus, but the rest of the work and communication is done over the Internet, Miranda said.
The fully online courses are new to Butler this year and will be using Moodle as the platform, Miranda said. Faculty will also be experimenting with live video-chat tools to communicate with students, along with live discussion boards and real-time chat.
Joseph Colavito, English professor, will be teaching an online course this summer, but this is not his first time. Before coming to Butler, he gained experience teaching online courses for Northwestern State University in Louisiana.
Colavito will be teaching scientific writing this summer.
Colavito said his past experience at Northwestern State was not as technologically up-to-date as it will be this summer at Butler. To teach and communicate with students, he would send PowerPoints, have virtual office hours and use the textbook publisher resources.
His four-week course for this summer is already mapped out. Colavito said the course will not be as expansive as a 15-week course and will focus on individual student tasks for them to complete.
Colavito said the biggest difficulty of teaching an online course is availability.
“With a face-to-face class you know you’re going to see your students most of the time,” Colavito said. “It’s very, very difficult to get everybody accommodated as far as when they can actually sit and talk to the teacher.”
Because of the challenges of not seeing students everyday, Colavito said flexibility is key.
“Every new version of something is going to need shaking out,” Colavito said. “There are going to be occasional issues that are out of everybody’s control. But it’s just like regular teaching. You have to have a Plan B.”
Elizabeth Mix, associate art professor, taught a hybrid course last summer, but this will be her first time teaching a fully online course. She will be teaching introduction to visual art.
Mix said the biggest benefit of an online course to students is the flexibility.
She said her concern is how engaged students will be in the class and how they are progressing through the course material.
“In the online environment, that means making sure that each element is as engaging as possible and that I set benchmarks for moving through the material so they aren’t encouraged to leave everything until the last minute,” Mix said in an email.
Mix said while the Center for Academic Technology has helped her a lot with setting up her course, in the future, she hopes to learn more about the technology because there is less flexibility in delivery when teaching a fully online version of the course.
Overall though, Mix said she is looking forward to the new format.
“I’m really excited to be part of a learning community that is exploring and implementing online courses in such a thoughtful and supportive way,” Mix said.
With this summer being the program’s pilot, Ramsbottom said the university will be using the same cost structure for students as well as the same pay structure for faculty. After this summer, they will take a closer look and evaluate if a change in those structures is needed.
Students can begin registering for these new courses on Feb. 3.

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