By Georgia Payton —
Online classes at U of L have been offered for quite some time and many courses continue to be added to the online curriculum. While the coursework is the same for a class that is offered both online and in person, the cost is not. The cost difference between in-person and online classes may not seem like much at first, but if a student takes more than one course, that difference accumulates.
Tuition for courses is formed annually by a university-wide committee and then approved by the board of trustees. Gale Rhodes, associate university provost and executive director of the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning said, “Online courses bear additional technology costs and online course training and development that are not part of the development of in-person courses.”
Sophomore Jennifer Young has taken three online undergraduate courses.
“I did notice the prices were different in my online and real-life classes but I only took a few so the difference of the cost didn’t seem that drastic to me,” Young said.
While more classes are added annually to U of L’s online curriculum, the majority of courses offered in-person are not offered online. The academic departments determine which courses to put online based on student need and demand, availability and faculty interest. Currently, 11 undergraduate and 22 graduate programs are offered online.
For those with disabilities, the Delphi Center has an instructional course designer for disabled students. If taking online courses is a necessity for a student, the Delphi Center works to accommodate students that need assistance. The Delphi Center also works with instructors to improve online classes as well.
Communications Professor Richard Slawsky said the center has been a great tool for his online classes.
“From the instructor side, I get a lot of support from both the Comm department and the people at the Delphi Center,” Slawsky said.
Slawsky took online courses for his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“If I would’ve had a poor experience I may not have stuck with it. At the end of the day, though, my desire to finish was strong enough that I plowed through.”
Professor Elizabeth Kimbell makes it a point to make online students feel like a traditional student.
“Instructors must place a priority on creating community in an online classroom. I provide all sorts of academic opportunities, but they are on their own to motivate themselves and manage time,” Kimbell said.
“Although I do send encouraging reminders weekly.”
“I’d say about three-fourths of the online classes I’ve taken have been really good experiences. The convenience of online courses is what sold it for me, sometimes I just don’t have time to go to a class with my schedule and taking them online made it a lot easier for me to keep getting my degree while being able to work and take care of home stuff,” said junior Heath Ford who has taken 8 online classes.
A misconception about online courses is that the work is easier, or the coursework is different. However, the assignments for online and in-class students is the same and so are the expectations for the performance of each student. There has been no indication that learning outcomes and performance are different between traditional students and online students.
As time goes on, online courses can only improve in quantity and quality.
“There’s no doubt that online will be a major part of the education process going forward. Every week brings some new technological tool to make the process more exciting,” Slawsky said.
Graphic by Shayla Kerr / The Louisville Cardinal