By Gabriel Islas & Joel Ruditsky
Students at Long Beach State are constructing their schedules for next semester and many have to make the decision between taking a face-to-face class or the online version of it.
President Jane Close Conoley previously said the university is seeking to spread the catalog of online classes in the future to make school more accessible for students and reduce foot traffic on campus.
“Generally, I am very supportive of online classes for a number of reasons,” Conoley said. “It would increase flexibility in terms of scheduling for students and increase students’ abilities to access more classes.”
Multiple professors have told Conoley that they enjoy teaching online classes but have expressed concern with the lack of student engagement with the material and their peers.
“Not all subject matter lends itself to online and not every student has the focus and time management skills to be successful,” Conoley said.
Roselynn Guzman, a second-year math major, said online classes are not necessarily more difficult than face-to-face classes, but the challenge relies on being up to date with assignments.
“It takes more responsibility,” Guzman said. “ It’s easier to slack off with online classes. I honestly prefer face-to-face classes because you get to hang with people and have that human interaction, but I also understand that they are convenient for some students.”
Guzman recalled a time she missed an online assignment because she kept putting it off and then realized it was too late.
Nicholle Salvatierra, a fourth-year journalism student who is in the military reserve, said online classes help her because she can be called to serve at any time.
“My favorite part of online classes is the flexibility,” Salvatierra said. “Being a student that’s actively serving in the military there have been instances where I’ve had to travel out of state at a moment’s notice. I was able to continue business as usual with my online classes without having to arrange make-up assignments or quizzes.”
Associate Vice President of international education and global engagement Jeet Joshee said the growth of online courses began during the 2011-12 academic year when the College of Professional and International Education incentivized faculty to transition face-to-face courses to online.
“Each summer we convert about 50 courses [to online],” Joshee said. “Over the years we had over 200 courses taught online.”
Joshee estimated that there are roughly 500 online courses currently offered at CSULB.
Kerry Johnson, associate vice president for undergrad studies, also shared her thoughts about course offerings.
“Having a robust combination of face-to-face, online and hybrid courses here at CSULB allows students to engage those styles and strengths more fully across the range of course delivery methods,” Johnson said.
In a 2013 study that compared course grades in the different types of classes, Joshee and his team found that students who were taking online courses received the same or better grades compared to students taking face-to-face classes.
Joshee said the online courses offered during summer and winter fill up the fastest, but he realizes that online classes are not for everyone.
“Those who take online classes definitely need self-discipline and commitment to complete the assignments,” Joshee said. “Online classes are better suited for adults and non-traditional students, especially those who want to come back to finish their degrees.”
Joshee added that online courses are designed for students with multiple obligations such as employment, childcare and family-related issues.
According to Joshee, this is not an “either/or proposition.” He said the variety of online classes, face-to-face classes and hybrid classes are helpful for students.
As more and more students enrolled in these courses throughout summer sessions, the faculty made online classes part of regular semesters.
“Online courses continue to be developed or converted through the Academic Technology Services today,” Joshee said. “Students are quite satisfied and find it very convenient because they are able to do the course work from anywhere and anytime.”