The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has partnered with four nonprofit educational organizations to develop postsecondary online courses for the nation’s higher education system.
The nonprofit organizations will initially be concentrating on integrating more online coursework in the community colleges.
With recent budget cuts, Fresno State has begun to offer more online classes. Not all students are embracing the shift.
Chris McIntyre, history major at Fresno State, said he doesn’t think the university should offer more online classes.
“I think interaction in the classroom is an important aspect of learning,” he said.
In an interview with The New York Times, Bill Gates said innovation in education in response to budget constrained colleges and online courses may be the only hope higher education has during harsh economic downturns.
McIntyre said he has taken a few online classes and believes his learning and study habits suffered as a result.
“The deadline to submit work was the last day of class, so it hurt study habits,” McIntyre said. “I would wait to do assignments and rush to complete them instead of taking time to do it.”
Junior Kourtney Sweeney said online classes were beneficial because it gave her the flexibility she needed in a busy schedule. Sweeney also said that online classes have more busy work and students can learn a lot if they put the time and effort into them.
“I had to spend more time teaching myself the material which made me have to study more,” Sweeney said. “With all that studying I learned a lot more than I expected.”
While Sweeney liked the online courses, she still prefers to take regular classes. “I’m more of an auditory learner then visual and I still need to be in a class,” Sweeney said.
While sophisticated technology has made its way into courses for years, previous developments strove to enhance learning in the physical classroom.
McIntyre said that kind of technology can make him a better learner and he enjoys taking courses in the smart classrooms.
“With things like smart-boards, it makes me more engaged because I’m curious to try it out and see how it works,” McIntyre said. “I am more willing to volunteer going in front of the class and answer questions.”
The center for Scholarly Advancement at Fresno State believes that online classes can improve student skills. On their website they said online writing tools provide feedback with instruction on how to correct and improve and encourages students to revise their papers before submitting them to teachers for a grade.
The center for Scholarly Advancement at Fresno State is already ahead of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and has formed the Technology Partners in Excellence program.
The program is designed to bring teachers from different disciplines together and create partnerships between them. The partnerships will work as a team to share professional growth and development opportunities in the area of using technology to enhance student learning.
According to their website, TPIE builds a shared knowledge base, shares successful teaching practices but most importantly aids in transferring training into the classroom.
And for some students, as in Mcintyre’s case, interactions with the teacher aided by technology may be significantly beneficial to student learning.