By Shannon Barbour
The College of Arts and Sciences will begin offering online courses this summer for students wanting to continue their studies off-campus.
The college will offer seven courses in topics including geography, history, psychology, neuroscience and religion during summer sessions one and two. Students are restricted to taking 16 hours of credit and a maximum of four courses during the two summer sessions.
The offering of online classes this summer is a beginning step in a three-year pilot project to decide whether online classes are successful.
“This is a testing ground for identifying what’s going to work and what’s not going to work in an online undergraduate course that’s unique to the Baylor context and culture,” said John Solis, senior academic consultant-instructional designer.
Dr. Hugh Riley, senior lecturer in psychology and neuroscience, will teach beginning psychology courses online during the summer sessions.
“Distance learning facilitates continuing education even when you’re not in proximity to campus,” Riley said.
Registration for the online courses will follow the same process as enrolling for on-campus semester courses.
All students, including incoming freshmen, will be able to take these courses for the same cost as on-campus summer tuition.
Riley said professors and students will have to adapt to the absence of classroom instruction, and the absence of direct interaction among professors and students might negatively affect class discussions, he said.
To solve this, Riley said he plans on being available through Skype and video conferencing for students and by uploading video lectures, PowerPoints, practice quizzes and e-textbooks online for students to access. plans on being available through
“My role is to help them [faculty] implement the best practices, effective flowing course design, and put together a high quality course that focuses on creating engaging online learning environments,” Solis said.
Data and feedback from faculty and students on their experiences with online courses will be collected during the first two years of the project.
Houston senior Jordan Louis took a summer online environmental science class at McLennan Community College but she said ran into uncooperative professors who were not connected to their students.
Louis said she would haveve taken an online class at Baylor if it had been offered at the time.
“Baylor has standards so it would be easier, especially if you’re doing study abroad,” Louis said.
While Louis likes the idea of Baylor offering online summer courses, Denver sophomore Allison Maus said she would not take Baylor’s online courses for financial reasons.
“I would take online classes with my job over the summer, but I’d do it at a community college because it would be cheaper and less rigorous,” Maus said. “I want to take classes here, but I can’t.”
Summer 2015 tuition will be $3,408 for a three-hour credit course.
Students like Maus will have to consider the cost and inability to use financial aid during the summer when choosing whether to take these courses.
Burleson senior Garrett Gray said he likes the idea of online courses and thinks Baylor should add even more courses.
“I think it’s a good idea because you don’t have to worry about transferring hours that way,” Gray said.
Because the courses will be taught online, Riley said Baylor would be able to reach more students and allow them to continue their education even when not on campus.