Classes started up at the Kodiak College yesterday, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the campus was flooded with students. In recent years the college has provided many more opportunities for distance learning, meaning students can complete courses online whenever it is convenient for them.
Jared Griffin is an assistant professor of English at KOC and spoke on KMXT’s Talk of the Rock last week, along with fellow professors, about the college’s shift toward distance learning.
“Over the past three or four years we have exponentially grown our distance offerings through video conferencing, through the internet and I think virtually every department has some element, some classes hat are offered that way.”
He said the number of classes offered online definitely differs within
each department, and often times many of the students taking online
classes are actually people living in Kodiak or surrounding villages.
“At least in the English
department I think maybe about anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the
students are in my distance classes are local or here on the island. I
did teach a literature class last spring that half of the class was
located in Chevak, Alaska, which is near Bethel, nearish Bethel. And
then with some students here. So I think it kind of varies, but for me
it’s anywhere between 10 and 50 percent I think.”
April Laktonen Counceller is an assistant professor of Alutiiq
studies and said classes within the Alutiiq studies program are
primarily offered online.
“We have students right
now all over Alaska. Last semester we had a student in Oregon. We also
had a local student who was traveling, so she called in when she was
spending a month in Thailand from an internet café. And actually the
reception was really good, she had no problems calling in, even though
we had some people locally who had trouble with their internet speed.”
The shift helps students, who often work full time or have families,
take classes at their convenience. But for some programs, like the new
online medical coding program the college offers, it actually mirrors
certain jobs that are also being done from home. Suzanne Buie is the
department chair for health sciences at the college and said about a
quarter of medical billers work at home.
“But it’s estimated
that in about three or four years, two thirds will actually work from
home or a remote area, not the physician’s office itself.”
Other classes offered online include the new intro to sustainable
energy course and different art classes, among many others.
While distance learning does offer a certain freedom for the modern
college student, Counceller did say that there are still regular
deadlines for assignments, and no matter where students are in the
world, those assignments will need to be turned in on time, Alaska Time.