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TMCNet:  Online classes grow in popularity in summer sessions

[May 28, 2012]

Online classes grow in popularity in summer sessions

May 28, 2012 (Star-News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Spending a few weeks of summer in a classroom has long been a way for college students to get a leg up on the year ahead. But as online courses gain popularity, local university officials say more students are getting the lessons without sitting behind a desk.

Administrators at both Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina Wilmington say they've seen an increase in both the number of online summer classes offered by their schools and the number of students who sign up for them.

CFCC offers just under 500 classes during the summer, school spokesman David Hardin said. Of those, 156 are online courses, and 43 are hybrid courses, where students are taught both online and face-to-face.

Mandi Lee, CFCC's vice president of instruction, said the school's online offerings have continually increased during the past few years.

College transfer students usually take the most online courses, Lee said, because disciplines like the vocational technical track don't lend themselves to online. But general English and math classes, which are required for all majors, are ideal web-only classes, Lee said.

At UNCW, 30 percent of the school's summer classes are offered online, said Johnson Akinleye, vice chancellor for academic programs. Akinleye said that's a big jump compared to three or four years ago, when online classes only made up 10-15 percent of the summer school offerings.

"This year, all of the online courses that I placed got filled first," he said.

Akinleye attributes the courses' popularity to their flexibility. UNCW students can go home during the summer and still knock out a class. Wilmington-area students can take a course while still working a summer job.

Professors are split down the middle on their feelings about the online courses, Akinleye said.

"There are some who are still gradually embracing it," he said. "Some are not quite as familiar with the technology." To ease those worries, UNCW provides technology training for its faculty through an e-learning office, Akinleye said.

Akinleye said many students from other schools who come to Wilmington just for the summer also sign up for online courses, something Lee said she'd also seen at CFCC.

"You can take your computer out to the beach and sit and take a class," she said.

Pressley Baird: 343-2328 On Twitter: @PressleyBaird ___ (c)2012 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) Visit the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.) at www.starnewsonline.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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