Online and hybrid courses offer the flexibility that Judy Hunt and Sydney Hedrick need to fit college classes into their busy lifestyles.
Both types of courses are similar to traditional classes in some ways. Students have an instructor, classmates and plenty of interaction with the class, as well as homework and class activities.
However, with online learning, students don’t have to drive to campus or spend hours in a classroom listening to lectures. Instead, communication with the instructor and other students takes place via the Internet.
Hybrid courses offer the best of both worlds – a blend of face-to-face instruction and online, computer-based learning, which allows students to work at their own pace and during a time-frame that is convenient for them. Plus, students still attend scheduled classes on campus.
Online classes “fit my substitute teaching schedule,” Hunt says.
“I live far away from campus, so this is easier,” Hedrick adds.
While Hunt and Hedrick are at different places in their lives, both have found that online classes are a convenient, effective way to fit college courses into their busy schedules.
“After being in the clerical field for over 25 years, and my age of 46, it was difficult transitioning to being a college student full-time,” Hunt says. “But when my job moved to Tennessee, I decided to pursue a longtime dream of mine – working with children. My love for children has been seen by many over the years and I’ve been told hundreds of times, ‘You need to go into teaching.’ Well, I decided it was time, and I have not regretted my decision since.”
“Online learning is as accurate as in-person; it may even be more difficult at times. It takes dedication, self-discipline and perseverance. One must be open to online instructions, forums, co-ed discussions and constructive criticism,” Hunt says.
“It’s hard to have personal interaction, but when you’re trying to work and do other things, having an online classroom makes it a lot easier rather than the in-class experience,” Hedrick adds.
Dedicated instructors make a difference for MCC’s 100-plus online classes since student-to-student interaction can be limited, depending on the course and teaching style.
“When I started to teach classes online, I knew that I wanted to offer the same depth of learning that occurs inside of the classroom within the virtual community,” Language Arts and Humanities Instructor Greta Skogseth says. “Online is only a different venue for teaching and learning. My perspective is that my students deserve the best in both settings, and once a teacher realizes how to translate face-to-face learning into an online setting, the rest falls into place as the students will create their own virtual learning community.”
“Adapting to an online course means that a student is ready for a certain degree of independence for his or her own learning,” she adds.
Hedrick is working on two bachelor’s degrees – one in Digital Animation and Game Design at Ferris State University and the other in Medical Illustration at Kendall College of Art and Design.
“Studying at MCC is a lot cheaper if I need a class that I don’t have, compared to taking it at Ferris or Kendall,” she says. “I’m currently taking Medical Terminology at MCC. It’s saving me a lot of money versus taking it at Kendall.”
Plus, taking an online class at MCC allows Hedrick to do her homework when it is convenient for her and to work part-time.
“We have a lot of students who either are unable to drive to one of our campuses or don’t have the time available to take an in-person class,” says Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs Rob Spohr. “Online learning allows students flexibility for their education whether they’re just out of high school and working their first job or experienced and trying to build a new career while maintaining a family.”
“The flexibility of online courses allows students to get work done at night, early in the morning or on the weekends,” Skogseth says. “It provides options for learners. Students learn in a variety of ways, and online learning presents another option in obtaining an education in a fast-paced and technologically advanced world.”