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Schools, students go online for instruction
computers pic
Madeline Hillis works at a computer at Dutcher Middle School during her integrated technology class. - photo by Journal file photo

Sitting at a desk in a lecture hall is rapidly on its way to becoming an obsolete method of learning. Online classes are increasing in popularity as students look for a more convenient way to get an education.

“Online classes offer them (students) the ability to take classes at a time that is convenient for them,” said Jim Clarke, coordinator of instructional technology and distance education for Modesto Junior College.

It gives the chance for students who have a child, work full time or have other priorities during normal instruction hours to take their classes when they have the time.

“I am so grateful to CSU Stanislaus that they are offering online courses because it has enabled me to continue working my eight to five, Monday through Friday job, continue being a full-time wife and mother, and to pursue my bachelor’s degree in communications studies,” said Monica Laungrath, now a California State University, Stanislaus graduate.

Online classes are not only becoming more popular among the students, but they are slowly increasing at the colleges, and coming into the Turlock Unified School District to help students catch up on their credits.

MJC has increased their online classes over the past year. In fall 2009 they offered 161 online sections and in fall 2010 they offered 173 online sections, according to Linda Hoile, MJC marketing and public relations officer.

CSU Stanislaus offered 42 online courses in fall 2009 and now offers almost double the classes at 83 courses for fall 2010, according to numbers provided by Eve Hightower, CSU Stanislaus spokesperson.

Nearly one in four students in the country take at least some college courses online, according to a statement released by CSU Stanislaus.

“Students are interested in learning when they want to learn and learn the way they want to learn,” Clarke said.

Local high school students in the Turlock Unified School District have the opportunity to take similar online courses through the e2020 program that helps students catch up on their credits to graduate on time.

“Being in a classroom setting for some people isn’t their cup of tea,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent. “This gives them the opportunity to do classes when they are available.”

If high school students are behind on their credits, they can take classes online through the e2020 program that has a teacher on the screen taking them through the class. They also have quizzes and tests that they take online.

TUSD started offering the e2020 program to give students a different path for learning.

“We want to create enough paths for all students to graduate,” Da Marto said. “The more paths, the better opportunities to succeed.”

MJC also offers a variety of ways for students to learn including the online courses.

Out of the 173 online courses offered at MJC this fall semester, 86 of those classes are considered hybrid classes with a fusion of online learning and face-to-face time in the classroom, Clarke said. The majority of the class is online but the students meet once a week for face-to-face time.

“Online classes help further access and provide education opportunities to students who are not able to drive to class several days a week,” said CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani. “The online education sector is growing at a phenomenal rate nationally and CSU Stanislaus must help meet that demand from students in order to better serve their education needs.”

Online education is a growing trend that is fueled by its convenience and popularity.

“Online classes are super convenient because I can go on the Web at any time during the day to get my work done,” said Stacey Hains, CSU Stanislaus student and softball player. “They allow me to do everything else in my life, as well as actually learn the subject in an interactive environment.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.