This article originally appeared in The Sampson Independent.
College and university students are often finding themselves having more and more to do outside of getting a quality education. For that reason, Sampson Community College, like many other institutions, is offering not only face-to-face learning, but online class options.
During next month’s graduation, nearly 300 degrees and 30 diplomas will be presented during SCC’s spring graduation. Many of those students have found themselves not only making daily trips to the campus for a class session, but logging into their home computers and taking a class online.
According to Marvin Rondon, director of academic services and institutional effectiveness, the number of courses offered online is continuing to grow. In the last year, Rondon said there were 301 courses taught face to face, where 201 online courses were offered. While there still remains a larger number of face to face courses, that number is trending downward, while the online number continues to creep up.
“If you come out to the campus at night, you will see less students than before,” Rondon explained.
Student enrollment numbers are drastically changing when looking on students enrolled in face to face classes versus online classes. In 2016, Rondon said there were 3,818 students enrolled in face to face courses, a number that has consistently dropped over the last five years. On the other had, Rondon explained that the number of enrolled online students has consistently increased over the last five years, with 2,568 for 2016.
The same can be said for the number of night classes versus online classes. Since 2012, the number of students taking a night course has been sliced in half, from 1,715 to 785. The online number has gone in the opposite direction, nearly doubling in the same time frame from 1,093 to 2,568.
“The question now becomes whether or not the students are getting the material by taking the class online versus taking the class in a face to face setting,” Sampson Community College Board of Trustees chairman Michael Chestnutt said. “As someone who has never taken an online course, I just wonder if you get the same concepts when you take something online.”
The purpose of having a class with face to face instruction, Chestnutt explained, is being able to have someone present and on hand when questions arise.
“If you don’t get it, that’s why a person is there to help you by answering your questions,” he shared. “You just wonder if the delivery is as effective.”
For many students, the online class is the only option. While online classes do require a lot of work, they are more convenient for those students who are working a full time job and raising a family in the process.
“The students are allowed to work at their own pace,” Blair Hairr, dean of student services, explained. “You also have some students who ask more questions about a lesson through email than they would if they were in a face to face setting. Being allowed to take a class online offers our students more confidence.”
Having classes offered online doesn’t only benefit local students, according to Rondon. Students from other counties surrounding Sampson can access classes online, as can college students who may need one or two additional classes over the summer.
More student options, Rondon added, equals more students and more money for the school.
“Online classes create and train a person to be a motivated learner,” Amanda Bradshaw, dean of workforce development and continuing education, said. “Students are responsible for keeping up with the work themselves.”