With online classes continuing to gain popularity nationwide, and some coming under fire because of poor student performance, an official at College of the Canyons says its online offerings are put through the same rigors as traditional classes.
Recently, some colleges and universities have began using third-party companies to provide free and open online classes.
These class sections, often described as massive open online courses, are largely unsupervised and provide little to no contact between students and instructors, according to James Glapa-Grossklag, the dean of educational technology, learning resources and distance learning at College of the Canyons.
San Jose State University recently grabbed headlines when the school decided to suspend its online courses offered through a third party because many of the students failed to pass final exams.
But the situation at San Jose State is much different than the online classes at COC, Glapa-Grossklag said.
“San Jose State has outsourced its education development and the development of its curriculum to external parties,” Glapa-Grossklag said.
In contrast, courses offered online at COC are written, developed and monitored by members of the college’s faculty.
Another major difference, according to Glapa-Grossklag, is the size of class enrollment. Classes of the kind offered at San Jose State enrolled hundreds of students, while COC classes are kept much smaller at around 30 to 35 students.
Offering smaller classes leads to more interaction between students and teachers, Glapa-Grossklag said.
“At COC we pride ourselves that regular and effective interaction with instructors is the cornerstone of our education experience,” he said.
Glapa-Grossklag said online courses are a major part of COC’s catalog, with between 100 and 200 such courses offered every term.
The college also has “hybrid” classes, offering coursework done online supplemented by work done in a physical setting such as a lab.
“Our over-arching mission is to provide access to students,” he said. “We believe that by offering a wide variety of online classes, we are providing access to students who otherwise would have difficulty accessing education.”
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