CSU, News

CSUs work to improve online education

One summer during her undergraduate years at Cal State Long Beach, Kelly Nguyen enrolled in a child development class.

Much to her dismay, the class was cancelled last-minute due to low enrollment. She immediately went to the department to consider her options, and though it was almost too late, she was able to add an online section of that class.

Now pursuing her teaching credentials, Nguyen is able to appreciate the flexibility the online class afforded her.

“Many of the classes here are booked to the brim,” Nguyen said.

Students like Nguyen, who depend on online education, are one of the reasons Cal State universities are working to implement a streamlined system for students to enroll in online courses at other campuses.

“Improving the online database is an ongoing project,” said Elizabeth Chapin, manager of public affairs with the Cal State Office of the Chancellor.

In addition to testing out a pilot program for a more user-friendly service for cross-enrollment online education, officials have given students the chance to register for these courses at an earlier time. Prior to the fall 2017 semester, cross-enrollment was only permitted after the regular open registration period.

Nguyen sees the program as a way to give students a “larger window of opportunity” to meet their graduation requirements.

“Before, we had to compete for classes,” Nguyen said.

The study conducted by the Legislative Analyst’s Office found that although Cal State campuses are making an effort to better their online class availability, less than 230 students took an online course outside of their Cal State home campuses in fall 2015, a fraction compared to the 86,600 students that took at least one online class that term.

Numbers have increased only slightly the year after, with the trend hovering around 300 students, Chapin said.

According to the report, these small numbers are attributed to lack of awareness among students, the difficulty in using the Cal State database for course listings and the lack of a common statewide learning management system.

In the meantime, Chapin said that the Cal State system will continue to comply with the requirements needed to ensure success for students.

“We are confident that the availability of online courses and programs across the university will lead to an even greater number of students earning a CSU degree,” she said.

Angela Wranic, a lecturer in geography at Cal State Long Beach, said that she had participated in the CSU Fully Online program in previous semesters, but she wasn’t getting students from other campuses.

“It didn’t seem like students were aware of it,” Wranic said in an email.

CSU Fully Online was launched in compliance to a 2013 bill aimed at providing students an opportunity to expedite graduation.

Through the new program, eligible matriculated students can enroll in one online course per term. The program’s website contains a list of all available courses under this system. Enrollment is done the same way that students add classes in their home campuses.

Though the schools in the university system don’t offer fully online state-supported undergraduate programs, they have 13 areas of discipline that give students the option of completing all upper-division courses online, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office. Additionally, graduate students can obtain more than 30 degrees online.

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