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Online education expansion could provide lifeline to students

Desire2Learn serves as the gateway to online classes for the Los Rios Community College District

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Students at California colleges may have greater opportunity to attend high-demand classes if Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget is approved this May.

In an attempt to alleviate high class enrollment rates, Brown has proposed a $37 million investment in distance education at California colleges, according to the Sacramento Bee. The proposed investment is meant to allow more students to take popular classes and do so without hiking enrollment prices.

Brown’s focus on high enrollment will benefit students at Cosumnes River College who have issues enrolling in classes.

“I have to sign up for [pre requisite] classes the minute they become available, or I won’t be able to get into them,” said culinary arts major Jacquie Robinson.

Brown plans to give $16.9 million of the allotted $37 million to community colleges, according to the Sacramento Bee. However, CRC may not see a difference in online courses offered.

“We currently offer more online courses than the state will reimburse us for,” said CRC Vice President of Instruction Whitney Yamamura. “[So] we will probably absorb the funding, and if there is additional money next year, we may add more distance education.”

Online courses have a higher enrollment speed than traditional courses at CRC.

“They fill up first. All classes are filling, but the fill rate is faster for online courses,” Yamamura said.

Despite their popularity, there are students on campus who would not take online courses even if it meant getting into a class that they were formerly unable to enroll in.

“I don’t really care too much for online classes because you can’t really communicate with the teacher,” said 25-year-old automotive major Steve Walker.

Most students who avoid online courses have qualms with their capacities to get distracted.

“Personally, I feel like I have a shorter attention span when I’m online because ‘oh there’s facebook,’ or ‘oh there’s a social media site,’” said 21-year-old English major Cody Simpson. “So for me it’s harder to concentrate.”

Dominic Orage, 22-year-old journalism major, shared a similar sentiment.

“I know me, and I wouldn’t really go online to do it,” Orage said. “So coming [to campus], I know I’d actually get work done.”

Some students, however, are able to work around the distractions of working at home, and enjoy the luxury of taking classes online.

“I like that I had the ability to take them late at night, early mornings, in my pajamas, that was a good thing for me,” Robinson said. “There was a lot of flexibility.”

Flexibility is a major selling point for students interested in taking online courses.

“I work full time, and coming to Elk Grove to take classes all the time can be really inconvenient,” said Emmanuel Valadez, a 22-year-old English major. “That’s why I like taking courses online, I can fit them into my schedule that way.”

Not having to commute to campus is another motivation for taking online courses.

“I live half an hour away,” said Tyler Austin, an 18-year-old with an undeclared major. “So it would save me a drive.”

Students at CRC acknowledge the positive aspects of online education, but also remain aware of their ability to focus in such a setting. With the pitfalls of at-home courses, there are still benefits for students.

“In this day and age, where it requires you to work like 70 hours a week to sustain a living, I could see how it’s a lot more convenient to be able to do online classes,” Simpson said.

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Online education expansion could provide lifeline to students