Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Scheduling Options for Online Students

As part of our AQIP Action Project dealing with Flexible Learning Options for students, we are proposing a new opportunity for online students who are interested in completing the Associate in Arts degree from LSC through the Lake Superior Connect e-campus. AQIP is our alternative approach to accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and focuses on continuous quality improvement for the institution.

The marketing plan for these offerings is still in development, so I can’t yet tell you what we will call this, but it will have something to do with the option of taking 2 classes at a time, 8 weeks at a time, and completing the AA degree within two years. (Those are 2-by-8 LEGO blocks in the photo - build your degree using 2-by-8s? Too lame?) There will be five start dates for courses during each academic year, which includes the three normal start dates (summer, fall, spring) and additional start dates in the middle of both the fall term and the spring term.

  • Summer 2009 – 8 week session (dates: May 27 – July 21)
  • Fall 2009 – 1st 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Aug 23 – Oct 8)
  • Fall 2009 – 2nd 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Oct 11 – Dec 10)
  • Spring 2010 – 1st 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Jan 10 – Mar 4)
  • Spring 2010 – 2nd 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Mar 14 – May 11)
During the Fall and Spring semesters we are looking at offering about seven course sections in each 8-week session. If student demand warrants, we can easily add more sections with the 8-week time length. This will still give students about many course selection options for completing their AA degree requirements using the 8-week courses.

Just for clarification:

1) In MnSCU, students don't actually declare an online program as their intention. They become online program students simply by the courses that they register for. Our student record system does not include a field that indicates whether a student is an on-ground or online program student.

2) Because of the above item, students who start taking these 8-week online courses are still free to mix and match their classes with any delivery method (on-ground, hybrid, or online) and any length of class (typically either 16- or 8-week classes, or any other). This truly does allow the student greater flexibility in their enrollment options.

3) These 8-week offerings are not intended to reduce the number of available courses for students seeking to complete their online AA degree by taking courses that last the full length of the semester. We expect that a majority of our students will continue to select the full-length courses, but we will be monitoring that situation closely. The online A.A. degree is definitely our most popular online offering. We hope this will help build additional capacity.

4) Students who need developmental coursework will be encouraged to complete their developmental courses prior to starting the 8-week course sequences. Developmental courses are offered during the summer session, but we are not currently scheduling them for the other 8-week sessions during the fall and spring terms. We might decide to do so in the future, but at this time we are taking small steps to start this learning opportunity.

CC photo by oskay

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