By Jessica Lyons
Pilot Program Launched
This past summer, Mercury News reported that UC launched its online course pilot program with a chemistry course. Prior to that and in order to keep faculty involved in the process, UC asked its faculty members to contribute their ideas for potential online classes. Of the 70 received submissions, 29 were selected and covered topics like political science, Spanish, geography, statistics, physics and humanities.
According to UC, the mission of the pilot program is 'to test whether online instruction can use technology's tools to give undergraduates educational opportunities comparable to the superb classroom instruction that helped build UC's stellar reputation worldwide.' Credits students earn through any online courses will go toward their on-campus degree requirements.
Students seem to be willing to give this program a chance. UC previously conducted a study of 3,000 of its students to determine the likelihood that they would take online courses to earn credits toward their on-campus degrees. It found that 38% would be 'somewhat likely' to do so while 42% said they would be 'very likely' to.
As UC launches different classes during the testing phase, it plans on continuing to get feedback from its faculty. It will also further evaluate how the courses are being received and if they are working.
The Benefits of Online Courses
According to Mercury News, one of the reasons behind UC introducing online courses is to solve the problem of having more interested students than classroom seats at times. Rather than having students wait to take some of their basic courses, they might be able to complete them online instead of falling behind on their degree requirements. UC also says that these courses are designed to help reach students who are used to, if not reliant on, computers.
In addition to possibly increasing access to courses, these online classes could give students the chance to create more personalized learning experiences. Some of the features of these online courses include chat rooms, audio material and visual materials. In an article on UC's website, Jia Frydenberg, the director of the Distance Learning Center at UC Irving, points out that students can view or listen to materials as often as they need to in order to fully understand the material. 'You can't do that in the classroom,' Frydenberg said.
Online courses don't have to just help college students. Find out how free online courses can benefit many different people.