By Linda Pollock/News writer

This is the first part in a three -part series about online course.Once a week after her classes are over, Amber Berthoud sits in front of a computer screen and works on homework for her online class, computer programming.

“It’s more convenient because I play softball,” she said. “There are no hassles of going to class. I can work at my own pace.”

Berthoud said she prefers her online class and would take more if they were available. However, she also warns, “it depends on the type of person – it’s easy to slack off.”

Berthoud is one of many students who enroll in online classes at Eastern. Classes offered completely online are becoming more commonplace in universities across the country. For example the University of Phoenix is a completely online university.

“There is a tremendous future for online classes. Some universities like Illinois University offer all the degree requirements in online classes,” said Rich Boyle, assistant dean for the division of continuing education and outreach. “We want to put more courses online for people who can’t get to classes at EKU.”

Eastern has more than 50 online classes each semester and enrollment in these classes is increasing. For the fall semester 57 online courses are available for registration.

“Students enroll in online classes because they are convenient and provide flexibility. The trend toward online classes is because they don’t require classroom space,” said Gene Kleppinger, online learning coordinator. “The increase in online classes means departments must meet the demands of students and pay attention to the quality of the courses.”

Quality control of online courses has become an issue Boyle and Kleppinger are addressing. They formed a collaboration of people in ITDS, media resources, the teaching and learning center and the distance education program to provide feedback and support to professors who administer online courses.

“Professors do a good job, but we want to help them do better. Everyone can use help (with all the technicalities of the internet),” Boyle said. “We need to make sure online courses provide the same outcomes as a face-to-face course. The workload needs to be similar although online students tend to actually do more work.”

Boyle adds classrooms have already been impacted by the increase of online courses through the use of Blackboard courses.

He predicts more classes will soon be offered online.

“You will see a shift, but all the degree requirements are not available online,” he said.

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