By Vada Cambio, Copy Chief/News Editor
Demi Rodriguez, Photographer
Online courses are typically the first to fill up come registration time. They are the classes everyone wants, but love to hate.
According to UH Hilo’s class schedule list, the number of online classes has increased from 66 in Fall 2014 to 75 in spring 2015. The majority of the online classes are in the Nursing Department, with communication courses coming in at a close second with both of these being considered very hands-on fields.
So is it true that online courses are cheaper than in-class courses? According to Communication Department Chair and Professor Dr. Yoshitaka Miike it is not necessarily true, “The increase in online classes is a result of keeping up with student demands.”
Miike also mentioned that, “A typical classroom can only hold 25-30 students, while online classes allow more flexibility with the number of students that can enroll. By having the classes online, it eliminates the need for classrooms and the time constraints that come along with them.” So money is not the reason behind the increase in the number of online courses being offered at UH Hilo it is the students who want them.
For students there are both pros and cons to online classes. “As a communication major a possible con might be that there is limited or no peer interaction with online classes. Student’s aren’t asking questions and giving their perspectives,” stated UH Hilo senior, Christina Evert.
The pro side of online classes being that, since it is on the web, you can make your own schedule or Evert states, “You can do the work on your own time. You can fit it around your work schedule.” That is important for a school like UH Hilo where so many students are nontraditional students, many having families of their own.
One con that professors reportedly have to deal with, is the concern that students may be cheating. Dr. Sasha Davis tried to have tests and quizzes for his Geology 102 course administered at testing centers but found that since so many students were off island it wouldn’t work out as planned. He now has to put his trust in the honor system, hoping that students won’t cheat.
For Tomotaka Kuroda who is an English as a second language student, online classes are a huge help for him. “I don’t need to worry about my pronunciation and what other classmates and teachers are saying which is often missed due to my lack of listening skill. Plus, it is good that I have plenty of time to share my thoughts with classmates before submitting my words.”
UH Hilo student Cole Stremski-Borero feels that, “Courses that are a requirement for degrees should be offered both online and in the classrooms rather than just online.” Some degree requirement courses are only offered online and students are struggling to pass them. UH Hilo nursing student Stephanie Valant is taking an online course for the third time because she hasn’t been able to get the passing grade she needs to complete her degree.
Stremski-Borero stated that although he isn’t taking any online courses this semester he would definitely take them again. “It saves time driving to school and that saves me gas.”
Students mentioned that if the professor is on top of things and regularly communicates with students online classes are great and easy to keep up with. Posting reminders, study guides, and powerpoints are almost essential to the success of a course. When the professor just gives assigned reading and exams then it becomes harder to follow along, and the success of the course is lowered.
Will the increase in online classes be a continued trend at UH Hilo? That all depends on what the students want. As long as the online courses continue to fill up UH Hilo will continue to offer them.