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Advances in technology lead to increase in online enrollment

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Online enrollment is steadily increasing at SIUE. Students are leaning more toward online classes than ever before. According to the Dean of the School of Business John Navin, the growth has to do with the fact that SIUE offers more online classes than ever before and how convenient they are for students who have busier schedules.

“[Online class enrollment] is clearly growing and it’s not just in the business world — it’s growing everywhere on campus,” Navin said. “I think there are a number of reasons. I think it offers more alternatives. There’s a convenience factor for students. They have the ability to do work at their own pace. It works well for students who are trying to schedule around jobs or athletics.”

Navin also credits improved technology and its ability to increase online enrollment. According to Navin, since this generation is a lot more digital than the previous, we naturally feel more comfortable with online courses.

“It’s a richer environment than it used to be. Students are very comfortable with technology,” Navin said. “Most of them have grown up on their phones and computers, so I think that it’s a natural progression.”

Navin said that online classes are not only convenient for students but for professors as well. By having classes online, students will still have lessons, homework assignments, and tests that will be taken in secure browsers, rather than having professors struggling through manually keeping track of grades and lesson plans on their own.

“I think the faculty likes it. The availability of technology makes things much more convenient,” Navin said. “I taught an online class probably 10 years ago, but the technology is so radically different from back then. The course management system is much better. It’s a much more coordinated effort. As the technology changes, it’s going to become an even more rich environment and the diversity of courses will improve as well.”

Some students, including junior exercise science major Julian Harvey, of Edwardsville, said online classes are a good way to save money for the school.

“You don’t have to spend as much money trying to fill out a classroom when you can just have a bunch of kids online,” Harvey said.

Navin said online classes don’t save the school a significant amount of money; however, they do save classroom space, which allows more classes on-campus to reach more students.

“It doesn’t have much of an impact [on budget]. A class is a class. What it does help is classroom availability in terms of space allocation. The budget implications are negligible,” Navin said.

According to Navin, although online programs are convenient, they are not necessarily for everyone.

“I think it’s a positive thing in terms of convenience, but I think that it’s also important to remember that different people learn in different ways,” Navin said. “You have to a lot more motivated and self-disciplined. It’s not for everybody.”

Harvey, who is currently enrolled in two online classes, said he enjoys his online classes; however, it’s easier to learn when in an actual classroom setting.

“I like them because you can do them pretty much anytime during the day. I don’t think I learn better in my online classes, but I feel like there are certain classes that you can learn more when you’re by yourself. It depends on the class,” Harvey said.

Navin, however, says that this is an unfair generalization. He believes that students can reap whatever benefits they seek from their online classes.

“No matter what the learning environment is, you can get out of it what you want to get out of it. People can sit in a face-to-face class and not take away much because they don’t put a lot of effort into it. It’s generalizing to say that it doesn’t work just because it’s online,” Navin said. 

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