Virtual winter session begins in 2012

For the first time, 2012’s winter session courses at Oswego State will be offered to students exclusively online.

The move to all online classes during the month-long winter session in January has been a long time in the making.

“We’ve been thinking about that for the last three or four years,” said Thomas Ingram, director of academic programs for the college’s Division of Extended Learning.

The Office of Extended Learning administers summer and winter session, and other distance learning programs.

Ingram taught the first online course during winter session in 2002. Since then, online courses have been steadily increasing, catching up with the number of traditional face-to-face courses. Last year, a handful of traditional courses were still taught on campus.

This year all of the roughly 40 classes offered during winter session will be online. About 800 graduates and undergraduates are expected to register for winter classes, which run from Jan. 3 to Jan. 20.

“What we believe we’re doing is responding to student needs,” Ingram said. “The demand is so high for online versus face-to-face.”

Students typically prefer online courses during winter session, Ingram said, because they can log on and complete their work from almost anywhere. There are also other benefits, such as a marginal savings on heat and electricity. The college also doesn’t have to worry about canceling classes due to weather, said Karen Moore, an employee of Extended Learning.

The Office of Extended Learning is also looking to attract more underclassmen to the winter session program. Upperclassmen have traditionally made up the majority of students during winter classes, Moore said.

It has taken several years of continually increasing online course offerings to reach the point where enough professors are familiar with the system and all the kinks have been worked out.

But, one of the biggest concerns Ingram and Moore faced in deciding to add more online courses is not technology related at all.

“It’s awful easy when you’re taking an online course to go away and miss a few days… but you can’t do that,” Ingram said.

“Our goal is to put on a successful winter program, but we also want our students to do well,” Moore said.

Winter session courses stretch three weeks. Students receive the same amount of seat time, but in an expedited fashion. Extended Learning usually cautions students not to take a winter course if it will compete with other time commitments, such as a part-time job.

mpressed into three weeks and some courses are easier to teach online, Ingram and Moore said each class is taught with the same academic integrity. They are taught with the same integrity as any class students would take in person during the semester, Ingram said.

Another change this year involves registration. Students can begin registering Oct. 19 and can register for a course up until the day before the start of classes.

Winter online classes are usually capped at 25 students, although more are occasionally added to popular courses, Ingram said.