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Cal U classes available on the Internet

| Wednesday, March 9, 2005

It seems like everything is on the Internet today and California University of Pennsylvania is joining the bandwagon.

According to Sylvia Foil, Cal U professor of communication studies, courses at Cal that take advantage of Internet possibilities can be taken using one of three instructional media plat-forms: WebCT, Blackboard and E-College. There, stu-dents can contribute to discussion boards and chat rooms, interacting with professors and classmates.

This semester, Foil is teaching a radio/TV commercials-writing class online and another section of the course in a traditional classroom.

She also has taught radio/TV newswriting on the Web and will be teaching radio/TV writing: drama online in the fall.

She said online classes allow students "to flex their schedule so they can work on the class when they have time."

Students also can take online courses anywhere. The courses are a great option for commuters, military students and students in the university's study abroad program.

Kelly Kibler, a sophomore nursing major, said she loved having the opportunity to take a Web-based course. She took college algebra online and ended up getting an A.

She said the biggest advantage was that she was not tied to a classroom and could work from her apartment.

"[You] can work at your own pace," Kibler said, adding that she would take an online course again.

On the other hand, Cal U student Chad Heaster, a senior information technology major, took basic statistics online last semester and ended up dropping the class.

"I didn't have the time to sit down at the computer," he said.

Heaster said he feels as long as one has the motivation and patience to sit at a computer, then an online class is an option.

Foil said one big disadvantage is the online classes "take more time for the teacher, and not all students work well on their own."

She advises students taking online classes to be well disciplined, have a willingness to ask questions, and to keep up with the reading assignments. It all comes down to time management.

"You have to be able to pace yourself and set goals for yourself to complete the work," Foil said.

She said online courses are not for everyone. She advised students to not take an online class unless they feel they can handle it and it fits their needs or learning style.

"It's good to have as an option," Foil said.

Robin Scandura, 21, is a junior public relations major from Milford.

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