Students Love Summertime Classes To-Go
Ohio Wesleyan University student Jessica Sanford ’17 spent her summer working full time as a political coordinator at the National Republican Senatorial Committee in Washington, D.C. As if that didn’t keep her busy enough, she also added a second minor to her double major and completed her general requirements this summer by taking two OWU online classes.
Sanford enrolled in “Exploring Computer Science” with Associate Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Sean McCulloch and “Religions of the West” with Associate Professor of Religion David Eastman. For the first time this summer, OWU offered six online courses that could be taken from anywhere in the world.
“Taking my two online courses through OWU has allowed me to pick up another minor and to finish off my last science credit, so going into my senior year I won’t have to worry about general requirements anymore,” says Sanford, a politics and government and international studies major with minors in French and religion.
“It’s surprisingly easy to take an hour twice per week to log on to our scheduled lecture on Google Hangouts group,” she notes. “I also re-listen to lectures, and that is when I take notes, as if I were in an actual classroom lecture.”
Sanford says the engaging online lectures create an illusion of an in-person class, and she appreciates how prompt her professors are at answering questions via email.
“Dr. McCulloch and Dr. Eastman have been so helpful,” she says. “They email the class often with clarifications and answers to foreseeable questions.
Ruchi Kansal ’16 also enjoyed her online class, especially the flexibility of the course times.
“Even if you’re not able to attend the class online, Professor McCulloch records it so we can catch up easily afterwards,” says Kansal, a management economics major with a minor in mathematics.
Professors decide on the format of their online courses based on the content. Associate Professor of Zoology Shala Hankison ’95, who taught “Evolution” online, did not require class meeting times, but students had to be in contact through online office hours, online chats, or emails twice prior to each exam.
“My favorite parts of the course are when I have had email discussions or online chats with my students,” says Hankison. “Because students are required to be in contact, I hear from all of them, and some students are really engaged and have a lot of feedback.”
Hankison created short web lectures, links to videos and documentaries, computer-based labs and simulations, and various other assignments. She appreciates how students could tailor the online course to suit their needs, spending more or less time on certain sections based on their level of understanding.
Mobility and Motivation
Hankison advised students to be self-motivated and to seek out their instructors as often as possible. “We still want to be engaged with our students and to give them the best OWU experience possible, even if it is in a different format,” she says.
“The best part is being able to do the work at any time,” says Karis Lowrie ’18, who took Hankison’s class. Lowrie, a zoology and classics major, said it was important to set up specific times throughout the week for schoolwork in order to stay on track.
“Taking an online course has been awesome. You get to do the work on your own time and it helps to have the lectures all online,” says Matt Maier ’17, a journalism major who took Eastman’s “Religions of the West” online class.
“If you need to take a summer course, I would definitely do it online,” he says. “Everything you need is right in front of you, so it is easy to do well.”
The classes were a very popular choice with students. Four of the six classes filled up in the first 15 minutes of the enrollment period, and OWU had to open up additional “seats” in the classes.