From real estate to anthropology, Orange Coast College offers a wide array of classes online as an alternative to the traditional classroom environment.
For students who are stay-at-home parents, have conflicting work schedules or lack reliable transportation, online classes offer a flexibility many traditional classes do not, film history professor William Hall said.
According to data from Joe Milunas, a Blackboard system administrator, a total of 4,138 students were enrolled in OCC’s Canvas selection of 174 online courses during the 2016 Fall semester and 9,998 students are enrolled in the 441 online courses for the 2017 Spring semester.
Pauline Britania, an 18-year-old undecided major, said he chose online classes to save gas instead of commuting to school and back for one class.
Another student said online classes were more flexible.
“I purposefully sought out an online class in order to find a class that fit my schedule better,” said Tammy Nguyen, an 18-year-old anthropology major.
In most online classes, assignments are posted every week on Blackboard and Canvas giving students time to complete the coursework before its assigned due date.
Exams are often constructed similar to on-campus classes, with weekly discussions or quizzes to test students’ understanding of the coursework, anthropology professor Meredith Montagne said.
“I would write on my calendar the due dates, assignments due and tests. I would always remember there was something due Sunday night so I would check Saturday or Sunday morning,” Britania said.
Students taking online classes must regularly check their OCC student email for updates and announcements from their online instructor. Like on-campus classes, online professors have a school email, phone number and office hours in case students have any questions regarding the course, Hall said.
Gabrielle Stanco a senior research analyst at OCC’s Institutional Effectiveness shared that students receiving a grade of C or better in online classes ranged from 64-68 percent from fall 2015 to fall 2016. Overall campus success rates were between 71.5-72.8 percent.
“The students (in online classes) that are successful, are self-motivated and self-starters. They are the kind of student that know they need to listen to lectures each week, they know they need to keep up on assignments,” Hall said.
Despite this, many students believe taking online classes is easier than a traditional classroom environment.
“I like them because they’re easy but I don’t know if I learn efficiently. I’ve taken one English class in the past online at another school and it was pretty easy. At least with online classes you know when things are due,” Joseph Muraira, a 20-year-old psychology major said.
However, professors have a variety of opinions on whether online classes are easier than traditional classes. Montagne, who teaches online and onsite physical anthropology courses, said it’s important for students to realize they need to dedicate as much time to online lecture material as they would to a regular class.
Hall, who also teaches online and onsite classes, said he saw online classes as more difficult, with a large gap between high and low grades, while Montagne said her experience was that it was the same for both, with low and high grades in between.
Students taking online classes say they would like to see more offered at OCC, ranging from history, music, literature and English.
Nguyen said she prefers math classes online because it offers a variety of ways to solve a problem, whereas in traditional classes, usually only one method is taught