The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 9th

Friday Center Offers Up Array of Online Courses

Students hampered by scheduling conflicts or long commutes can register now for classes to be taken online.

Carolina Classes Online is a program offered by the Friday Center. It started in 1997 with four courses and has grown to 26 for the spring 2001 semester.

"I think it's been a favorable response," said June Blackwelder, associate director for publication and promotion department for the Friday Center. "It was intended for students who are a distance from Chapel Hill, but it turns out that regular students are interested as well. We end up with a mix of students."

Many students said they notice an eclectic mix of people attracted to online classes. "It's kind of cool because there is quite a bit of diversity," said Selena Shade, a sophomore journalism major who is currently enrolled in an online History 22 class. "There is one woman who is married with kids, and she's taking it."

Classes are conducted in a variety of methods integrating online discussion forums, tests and writing assignments.

Carolina Courses Online are open to any student who wants to study this way, and admission to UNC is not a requirement. A maximum of two classes per semester may be taken online, and students who wish to enroll in online courses must obtain permission from their academic dean.

The current tuition for a three-credit course is $189 for N.C. residents and $390 for nonresidents. Students can get registration information from the Friday Center's Web site at www.fridaycenter.unc/cco, and registration is open until Jan. 16.

Officials say the work associated with these classes is comparable to taking a regular class at the University.

"(Online classes) are supposed to cover the same amount of content that are done on campus, and they are reviewed by department chairs on campus," Blackwelder said. "But the nature of the course means it must be taught in a different way. The student must be responsible and do more stuff on his own. It's likely to be a different kind of work, but the level is the same."

Teachers preparing for online courses say they are ready to tackle the challenge. "I'm excited about it," said Cheryl Warren, a graduate student who is teaching an online class now and will teach Geography 10 online this spring. "I've been teaching the correspondence course, and it was a natural progression to kind of put a similar course online.

"This is one of the first four pilot courses that went online."

Warren said she thought the class was going very well in its online form. "This is a science course, and it's a very challenging experience for the students," she said.

Most of the classes offered are ones that satisfy a General College requirement for graduation. "I think that the way they have it set up is really good because you can't take core classes for your major," Shade said. "It's good that you can fulfill some of your perspectives."

Shade said the experience of taking online classes has been a good one, and she liked the opportunities it gave her for independence. "I like the fact that I don't have a certain hour to turn it in. It just has to be in before midnight, and I can work at my own pace," she said. "I would definitely do it again."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.


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