Indiana University is investing $8 million over the next three years to increase the number of online courses on all campuses and bring them under one umbrella.
The goals of the new initiative are to expand IU’s current online offerings, create new degree programs, and convert current programs to an online format.
IU Instructional Systems Technology Professor Barbara Bichelmeyer, who will direct the new office of online education, says new technology allows students and professors to communicate more freely.
“Web 2.0 technologies, social networking, opportunities for interaction are allowing students and instructors to be able to connect with each other, even through the Internet and online technologies in ways they haven’t been able to do so in the past,” she says.
IU offers online courses in more than 80 academic disciplines.
Sports marketing management student Matthew Krieger is enrolled in one called “The Biology of Mental Illness.” He says he doesn’t mind the online structure, but he says the class format makes it difficult for all the students to participate.
“They have us have a question at the end of each class session but only a few students can get the chance to do it,” he says. “I’ve still yet to ask one but I am sure I’ll get my chance.”
It costs more to take online classes, but Bichelmeyer says she thinks students will still save money in the long run.
“Students who take online courses generally may pay more because of the technology,” she says. “But they also gain quite a bit in terms of convenience. They do not have to come to campus to park; they do not have to get a babysitter, they don’t have to pay for the gas to get to campus.”
And another one of the goals of the initiative is to help students graduate sooner by offering certain online courses throughout the year.