Online courses an unfortunate necessity

Chadron State has the highest technology fee rate of the three-college system, with technology fees 16 percent higher than the next highest institution (Peru State).

With a total of 258 courses offered online in 2011, CSC has more online course offerings than Wayne and Peru State Colleges combined. Between 2010-11, Peru and Wayne States’ online offerings have dropped, but CSC’s has increased two percent.

At its Sept. 19 meeting, Student Senate heard concerns by CSC professor of Humanities Dean Tucker relating to online courses and gauging student’s feelings toward such courses.

At that time, Student Senate was challenged by Tucker to develop a survey to administer to the student body in order to ascertain their feedback about online courses. The matter was undertaken by student Cressey Yeutter of Eustis, who heads the College Affairs Committee, and Student Senate committee adviser Jamie Wada, assistant professor of Justice Studies.

At the Oct. 10 Student Senate meeting, Yeutter said that she and Wada had completed the survey, and planned to distribute it in-person via teachers, as an email survey might be ignored.

Implementation was halted, however, due to an a combined concern raised by the administration and Student Senate advisers over the administration of the survey.

Due to the regulations surrounding research involving human subjects, the college’s administration suggested that control of the survey be transferred to the Academic Review Committee, a sub-committee of Faculty Senate.

According to Lois Veath, vice president for academic affairs, the decision was a logical one because the Academic Review committee would ultimately be the one to act on any data gathered.

Veath said online course numbers this high for CSC are a necessity and not an ideal in her perspective.

“That’s [forced online courses] not a choice that I’d make for our residential students,” Veath said. Along with this sentiment, Veath said that it is often an issue of dropping a program or course or offering it online, due to a number of factors Veath summarized as being primarily geographic and regulatory. Because of Chadron’s rural location, the college doesn’t have access to as many adjunct instructors as institutions that are based closer to urbanized settings.

“We don’t have the geographic area to have in-class adjuncts,” Veath said.

Due to this, the college seeks adjunct faculty to teach online, which effectively negates geographic restraints, and allows the college to select more qualified individuals from a broader range, Veath said.

Veath said the college currently has 87 full-time-employment faculty on a tenure track.

“The board [NSCS Board of Trustees] is unwilling at this time to increase tenure-track positions,” Veath said. Because of this, the college has had to increasingly rely on online options to continue offering programs.

“It’s not that I’m happy about these factors, it’s about working in the environment in which we live,” Veath said.

Despite the large online presence the college already has, Veath remained optimistic about the role of student’s feedback on the future of learning at the institution.

“Student’s wants and desires, tempered with reality, will always be worthy of consideration,” Veath said.

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