Noah Yantis –
Illinois College will soon be joining many other colleges and universities across the globe in offering online courses, according to Provost Elizabeth Tobin. The idea for online classes comes from a recommendation from the Center for Research on Educational Outcomes (CREDO) when their officials were on campus earlier in the semester to evaluate the College.
This recommendation states that Illinois College should be attempting to pilot courses online by the Summer of 2016 to act as a stepping stone into offering more classes in the future.
The process of piloting these courses is in its very early stages, and part of this is due to the fact it has not been a month since the CREDO team was on campus to analyze the college and give its recommendations.
“I would like to see [online classes], and it is possible, but there are many steps that we have to take before this becomes a reality. If this does not happen by next summer, than the summer of 2017 will for sure see online classes at Illinois College,” says Tobin.
These steps require hands-on work from faculty and staff campuswide.
First, the Faculty Senate must approve a resolution to begin working towards piloting classes and then followed by confirmation and permission from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC)–the organization who was on campus last semester and is responsible for determining if IC will be reaccredited as a higher learning institution. After getting permission from the HLC, the Information Technology department will be asked to review whether they can support online classes on their server, followed by multiple further steps.
Among the courses that could be offered are CO 101: Speech Fundamentals and EN 121:Principles of Writing, two courses that all students are required to take, as well as some entry level statistics course. Students also have to fulfil a statistical literacy requirement before graduation.
If this piloting program proves to be a success, other fields of study can begin to create their own online curriculums and expand the College’s course reach.
In no way would an online class ever be mandatory, and they are designed to be supplementary and help students who work full time over the summer, or are continuing education students–those that either never finished their degree and want to come back and wrap it up, or those that want to move up in the company they work for.
One benefit to having online classes is increased enrollment, an area the College is neither improving or declining in.
“Our enrollment here is very steady. There are no large spikes or sharp declines that have happened in recent years. Steady enrollment numbers is a positive thing,” said Communications and Rhetorical Studies Department Chairman Adam Jones.
More students enrolling in online classes could most likely mean more classes would be offered to meet the demand.
A downside with this new implementation is the fact that within online classes, there is little to no face-to-face communication, something IC prides itself on.
Provost Tobin remarks, “The hallmark of Illinois College is face-to-face communication and in no possible situation would online classes ever change that aspect of the College.”
As Summer 2016 draws near, more details will be available about the array of classes that will be offered, as well as faculty and trustee opinions on online courses.
Noah Yantis, from Arthur, Illinois, is a sophomore majoring in History with a minor in Political Science and Communication and Rhetorical Studies. Noah is Treasurer and Features Editor of The Rambler and Public Relations Chairman of Student Senate.