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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA Online offers students an alternative way to learn

Sydney Richardson

 English senior Jenny Aranda peruses through her class’ D2L page during a quiet day at the UA Main Library. UA Online degree programs allow distance learners to complete a program without ever setting foot on campus.

UA online degree programs allow students to complete university-level work without ever stepping foot on campus if they choose, allowing distance learners and others to complete their education when they may not have been able to before.

Some students enjoy online courses because it forces them to understand content on a deeper level as the professor may not be immediately available as is the case of an in-person class.

“Online classes can allow you to learn more because you are more hands on with the material,” said Ryan Dennis, an atmospheric science graduate student. “The results are mostly fair. Online classes may not have as many exams, which is where a lot of students struggle. Also, students are able to use their notes.”

However, some students find it difficult to get assistance from their online instructors.

“It can be difficult to get help and ask questions,” Dennis said. “Also, motivation is less, because without having peers nearby doing the work, it is harder to make time for it.”

Overall, education major Lizzy McGrath prefers to take in-person courses whenever her personal schedule allows for it.

“Being in-person is better for me. It is easier to visualize the material and be taught it rather than learning it through a textbook,” she said.

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For instructors, getting their students to remember the information that is taught can be difficult. Some instructors choose to incorporate traditional classroom learning into their online courses.

“One of the institutional challenges is retention,” said Bryan Carter, who teaches Africana studies online courses. “Students can fall behind and feel like they can never catch up.”

Carter said he also provides live broadcasts of lectures to make it easier for students who prefer to hear and see a professor teach.

Some professors say that doing group work in an online class is a challenge. One professor now utilizes Google Documents to overcome this obstacle.

“Before, group work was impossible. The challenge is to communicate details about projects,” said Peter Waller, who teaches science, technology and environment.

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UA also offers completely online degree programs for students who feel they would benefit from a digital learning experience.

“UA online is committed to giving students the same experience and the same rigor,” said Joshua Steele, director of online student success. “We have the same learning objectives and students meet the same curriculum requirements of their program.”

Without the fully-online degree program, Steele said many students would be left out from completing their education goals.

“We are proud the UA online afforded previous Wildcats the opportunity to finish up when they could not do it before because it was prohibited for them to remain in Tucson,” Steele said.

Steele wants to debunk any public perception that online degrees are easier to obtain than those earned in person and wants employers to have confidence in any UA online degree a student earns.

“I would challenge that assertion. I earned my master’s degree fully online and I worked just as hard, if not harder, because I worked full time while I did it,” Steele said.

“Online students have self-discipline. That makes them remarkable,” he added.

Follow Phil Bramwell on Twitter.

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