Students cough up extra cash for online courses – Central Florida Future

To accommodate the millennial generation, universities are offering more online classes than ever before. But as students continue to add these courses to their schedules, they may not be aware that online courses require an extra $18 per credit hour fee.

“All fees are spiked and it’s unbelievable,” Khadija Hussein, a senior pre-clinical health major, said.

Associate Vice President of Distributed Learning at UCF Thomas Cavanagh said during the 2012-2013 academic year, 3,576 online courses were offered out of a total 17,517 courses at UCF. Approximately 74 percent of UCF students took at least one of those classes during that time.

“Online courses continue to grow at a steady pace every year,” Cavanagh said.

The distance learning course fee supports the extra costs associated with the design, development, delivery and support of the courses. Money collected from the fee can only be used to reimburse the costs associated with online learning, Cavanagh said.

Despite the apparent popularity of online courses, some students do not seem to know this fee exists.

“No way,” Hussein said after learning of the fee. “I did not know that.”

Hussein has taken eight online courses during her time at UCF. Even though she feels online courses are more convenient, she does not think the distance learning fee is fair.

“Definitely not, because you aren’t getting as much from a teacher,” she said. “If anything, it should be the opposite.”

Although she feels students do not get as much from professors in an online setting, the same professors teach the in-person classes, Cavanagh said.

Chris Koury, a junior psychology major, also felt the online course fee is unfair because he believes it is easier and more convenient for the professors, yet students have to pay more.

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“I don’t think it is fair at all,” he said.

Koury has taken four online classes since enrolling at UCF. He feels that most online classes are self-explanatory and organized, but still prefers in-person courses.

“The quality of face-to-face classes is better because there is only so many ways of explaining online,” he said.

Cavanagh said students are given tools to succeed in the online mode of learning. Such tools include Online@UCF Support, library resources and other helpful resources available through Canvas. The Student Development and Enrollment Services also offer the same advising and support for students in online and face-to-face courses.

He also said students with disabilities can receive tangible help in their online courses.

Although some argue the quality of in-class courses are better, statistics show that UCF students succeed in the online platform, as well.

“Online course withdrawal rates are roughly equivalent to face-to-face courses,” Cavanagh said.

According to a graph provided by Cavanagh, fully online courses had an 88 percent success rate in fall 2011. Face-to-face classes in the same semester had an 87 percent success rate.

Mixed-mode courses, which blend in-person and online teaching, had the highest student success rate at 90 percent in fall 2011, according to the graph.

“Students succeed in mixed-mode at a higher rate than any other modality and rate mixed-mode courses highest in end-of-course evaluations,” Cavanagh said.

However, mixed-mode courses do not have the distance learning course fee.

“I’m shocked and upset,” Hussein said regarding the distance learning fee.