The Advance-Titan

Enrollment increases in online classes

The University of Wisconsin-Extension announced in a press release that its online degree programs have increased 13 percent in 2016, which is above the national online enrollment average of 3.9 percent.

UW-Extension pulled statistics from all major UW system campuses except UW-Whitewater. The statistics showed that as of the 20th day of class in 2016 course enrollment reached 2,800, compared to 2,472 in 2015.

Course enrollment is calculated by the number of students multiplied by the number of online courses each student is enrolled in.

Charles Hill, executive director of the Division of Lifelong Learning and Community Engagement, said the average student enrolled in classes through the LLCE is 29 years old.

According to Hill, a majority of the online students only have enough credits to be part time.

Hill said online classes are offered around the world to anybody, but most people will take an online course that is within 50 miles of their home.

“A lot of people think people take online programs because of geography, like they live way up north and there’s no 4-year campus nearby,” Hill said. “It has to do more with their schedules. The fact that they might have little kids at home that they have to watch when they’re not working.”

UW Oshkosh student Ryan Donohue said he enjoyed the one credit online course he took during spring interim that allowed him to have a job.

“I worked full time and then did the majority of the work during the evening,” Donohue said.

Hill said people gravitate toward online courses because of their flexibility, which allows students with busy schedules and other conflicting circumstances to work whenever they’re free.

Hill said some students work better online, where the environment is preferred for them, even if in-person classes are an option.

“They can take their time…,” Hill said. “In their online discussion they’re writing it out, so they can come up with something more thoughtful.”

Donohue said going at your own pace and doing the work on your own time are some of the benefits of taking an online course.

“Obviously you have due dates and everything, but you don’t necessarily have to attend a specific class time,” Hill said.

Donohue said he doesn’t think taking only online courses is good for getting a degree.

“You still need that personal aspect,” Donohue said. “I liked having this one class online and I have another one in the future, but I think you still need to have some in-person classes.”

UWO senior Dalton Schuerman said online courses are good for students who don’t need in-person lessons to learn effectively.

“It depends on the learner, honestly,” Schuerman said. “Some people are better with learning on their own and doing it themselves. Some people don’t go to class and do just fine, but other people need in person interaction.”

Hill said he would like to see more students straight out of high school take classes in person because of the interpersonal skills they receive.

“The experience that you get, not only in a classroom, but on a college campus, or you live in a dorm or off campus, and all the other activities that go on around that are invaluable,” Hill said. “I would say to that student, ‘If you can go to school full time, if you can take advantage of that, go ahead and do it.'”

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Enrollment increases in online classes