DISCOVER THE ONLINE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES NOW AVAILABLE AT TCI.

03/17/2013

Discover the Online Learning Opportunities Now Available at TCI.

Can you imagine being able to take college courses online right from home, when the time was convenient for you?

Suddenly the problems of working a job, arranging childcare and just having a life could be more easily managed. You could do all those things – and more – while going to school. 

That vision is now a reality! Because with TCI’s Online Learning, you can take college courses online from home – and manage your busy schedule more easily than ever before!

All the Benefits of the Classroom – From Your Computer!

This semester at TCI, 14 courses will be offered 100% online, while 46 others will be offered as “hybrids” – partially online and partially in the classroom.

“Online courses offer students the flexibility they need,” says Gray Harriman, Dean of Online Learning. “We have adults who are going back to finish college who can tell their children, ‘Go do your homework, I’m going to go do mine!’ ”

While you may find other colleges offering online courses, few other colleges offer associates degrees online like TCI. Plus, those offerings can be significantly more expensive than TCI.

“With Online Learning, students can log-in from anywhere.” Dean Harriman says, “You can get your prerequisite courses out of the way online, then come in to school to finish up the practical component of your study.”

Courses with practical labs generally can’t be done 100% online, but the theory portion could be put online while the practical is done in the classroom. Simulations can be used to a certain extent, although these are not considered substitutions for the real thing.

For now, the Business faculty is spearheading the Online Learning effort, but instructors from other programs are also embracing these flexible approaches to learning.

Online Learning Encourages Participation and Interaction

While critics suggest online students miss out on the interaction in the classroom, Harriman counters that the opposite is true. “Actually, students tend to interact more online.” Harriman says, “One student will post a question or comment, and other students are encouraged to reply. Instructors can encourage all students to get involved.”

The constant discussion encourages students develop critical thinking and writing skills. “Online learning is very different from a passive classroom.” Dean Harriman says, “Students may be asked to watch a video or read an article, then post their views. When someone disagrees with what they’ve written, they must be prepared to take a stand and defend what they’ve written. By constantly accessing this information, the knowledge is moved from short-term to long-term memory. So students hold on to the knowledge much longer than traditional students.”

The style and demands of online learning demands that students be motivated. “Online students must log-in frequently.” Harriman says, “They must respond to the instructor and other students on an almost daily basis.”

Encouraging Greater Diversity – and More Well-Rounded Learning

Because of the added flexibility that Online Learning allows, more older adults can be welcomed into the class. “Adult students help improve the class.” Harriman says, “They have real-life experience that they can draw upon and share with the rest of the students.”

Students can use the scope and reach of the Internet to make the class even more valuable. “Students can use social media and online research to contribute to the class.” Harriman explains, “You can post a link to an article or video that reinforces your position, or you can connect with an expert on social media to bring expertise from around the world to the class. We’re discovering a whole new dimension of learning that we didn’t have before.”

In a similar way, the technology available online can make the class much more interesting. “Textbooks are old.” Harriman says, “The Internet is as fresh as it can be. New technology can be harnessed to engage people. This includes online simulations as well as apps that bring a tremendous amount of engagement to the classroom. We’ve had students try apps in class and then take them home to share them with their friends and family.”

Focus on Quality of Education and Integrity of Students

Before Online Learning can truly go widespread, it must be proven that students can effectively learn as well (or better) than in the classroom. “We want to know that the outcomes of Online Learning are the same or better as the traditional classroom.” Harriman says, “We need to show positive experience with our current online courses before we broaden the scope.”

In addition, there’s a considerable emphasis placed on security. Tests can be monitored –via video conference or (in the case of a Finals and Mid-Term Exams) proctored on-site. Instructors will be tasked with getting to know their students via their online work, to make sure it remains consistent throughout the semester.

“There’s a tremendous amount of writing done in these courses.” Harriman says, “Instructors will get to know the writing styles of their students. If they suspect something has changed, they can request a video chat to ensure that the student is actually sitting at the computer. There are a number of security procedures in place to ensure academic integrity.”

As faculty and students become more familiar with Online Learning, more courses may be able to go online in the near future.