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IVC offering online courses

June 30, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — From microwaves to cell phones and personalized Web sites, the effects and influences of technology cannot be escaped.

For better or worse, technology has revolutionized the culture of our society.

Computers and the Internet have changed daily life, from the ways society does business to the ways students learn.

Yes, the hallowed halls of education are being profoundly affected by the Internet.

The first school district in the Imperial Valley to offer an online college course for credit, Imperial Valley College is riding at the forefront of the technology wave, with its humanities department leading the way.

"There are some real pros and cons to an online course," said Joel Jacklich, music professor at IVC, who offered the first IVC online course for credit in the spring semester .

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"The fact that you can do it anytime, anywhere without the distance or time limitation, students can find it extremely valuable," Jacklich said.

The first semester it was offered online, 25 students signed up for Jacklich's course, Introduction to Music Literature and Listening, a music appreciation class, and 14 students are taking the summer online session.

"Self-motivated students are going to get a whole lot out of an online class," said Jacklich.

The software for his course includes links to other sites for students who want to learn more about the subject on their own.

"They can really explore if they want to," said Jacklich.

Israel Vargas, a student taking the course, said he has learned more than he would have in a traditional class.

"You learn more and you value it more," said Vargas. "You can actually enjoy the class."

A full-time student who also works full-time, Vargas was attracted to the course because of the flexibility if offers.

Vargas, who works the graveyard shift, doesn't get home from work until 6 a.m..

"I sleep in until 2 p.m., wake up and do homework," he said. "It's easier for me."

If he had the opportunity, he would take almost all his courses online, "except for math," he said.

Kristy Vogel, who took the course in the spring semester, agreed.

"I thought it was great," said Vogel, who also works a full-time job.

"I could sit down on a Sunday afternoon and do all of my work for the week," she said.

Vogel added, "You could do assignments months in advance if you wanted to. It allows you to work at your own pace."

"I liked it because I could read one day's worth of class and do the assignment or quiz while it was fresh in my mind," she said.

She added, "I wish they offered more courses."

Vogel said she has been searching for more online courses at junior colleges in San Diego but hasn't had much luck.

"They're mostly at universities and I don't need that," she said.

Offering an online course has been a goal of IVC's for awhile, said Denis Cheng, IVC technology center coordinator.

"IVC as an institution has been trying to get online courses going," he said.

"My main thrust has been to pave the way and to put in all the infrastructure to get this thing going," said Cheng.

He said the software is ready. The professors just have to learn how to use it.

However, many educators are reluctant to offer their courses online.

"A lot of faculty are resistant for different reasons," said Cheng.

He listed not being open to change as a major reason, as well as concerns with compensation for teaching an online course and property rights for developing or using a pre-developed course.

However, Cheng said the same publishing houses that provide textbooks, "are taking the textbooks and putting them into a form that can be put up on the Internet to be used … and they're making them available for very reasonable prices."

He said such materials are called "epacks," and were created "so professors don't have to create a class from scratch. They just use an already created system and go in and tweak it to personalize it."

Jacklich "tweaked" the software he used for the class to fit his personal teaching style.

"I had the option to change aspects of it," said Jacklich, listing the text and tests as areas he could change.

Students in his course were required to buy a CD pack that contained the required musical selections and graphics.

"A student can take as long as he wants until he gets it," said Jacklich of listening to the musical selections.

That is exactly what his students did.

"With a traditional book and notes, you can miss something," said Vargas.

"In this case, you can refer back to the class session or email the professor or your classmates if you have a question," he said.

Jacklich made his home phone number, cell phone, pager, email and work numbers available for his students to reach him at any time day or night.

"I liked the fact that I could email anyone in the class or the instructor at anytime," said Vogel.

Jacklich has a personal reason for establishing an online course.

"I only have one vocal chord," he said.

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