Education goes electronic

ALEXANDRA BODE / STAFF REPORTER Butler University’s online and hybrid course offerings more than doubled since last fall semester. This semester there are 11 online and hybrid courses in five different areas of study. Butler University President James Danko’s 2020 Vision includes increased online learning opportunities. The university added 26 online or hybrid courses in the summer of 2013, in accordance with that strategic plan. Butler University has offered online undergraduate classes for years, Provost Kathryn Morris said. “We tried to be very intentional, trying to put (the classes) at places where they would be beneficial for students,” she said. Nationally, students began to enroll in face-to-face summer classes less, and the enrollment in online and hybrid classes rose, Morris said. Students and professors never interact face-to-face in online classes. However, hybrid class instructors teach partially online and partially face-to-face. “I think what is happening is students go home or work during the summer and are looking for a way to continue their education,” Morris said. The University Honors Program is also looking to offer online classes, specifically summer honors Global and Historical Studies classes, said Jason Lantzer, honors program coordinator. Any faculty member can teach an online course. If the instructors have not taught in this format before, they prepare by training during a six-week workshop in the spring. “The training workshop was designed to ensure that faculty members understand what it is like to teach this way,” Morris said. When deciding what classes should be taught, they look at classes students are mostly transferring in and try to offer those classes. “We also need to look at classes that are suitable for this format,” Morris said. Some classes can be easily taught online, while others require a face-to-face meeting. “When I have heard faculty comments, universally, they have enjoyed the experience,” Morris said. Lantzer taught online classes during his graduate studies at Indiana University. “Online forums give students who otherwise would be quiet and never raise their hands the opportunity to participate,” Lantzer said. He said he also enjoys that the discussions in online classes never have to end because students can go back and comment on things weeks later. Lantzer said he felt as a professor there was one major difference between teaching an online class versus teaching a face-to-face class. “I didn’t get to see the moment when something would click, which is always exciting when you are at the front of the room,” he said. Morris said nationally and within Butler University, when students review classes, hybrid courses are usually evaluated higher than face-to-face or online classes. Pharmacy major Taylor Young said she likes her current online class, medical terminology. “I really like this format, because you can move at your own pace,” Young said. “And, when I have time, I can just sit down and listen to the lectures. But I’m not obligated to go to class.”