Some Central Michigan University students have voiced their confusion about how online classes are structured, who teaches them and how they differ from on-campus courses. Marnie Roestel, Manager of CMU Online Programs, talked with Central Michigan Life staff reporter Kate Woodruff to clarify some of the leading questions on the minds of students.
Are online courses taught by only CMU professors, or are there remote professors that teach from other schools as well?
Marnie Roestel: Many online courses are taught by the professors who also teach on campus. In addition, we have subject matter experts who have been approved by the campus department to teach their courses online.
Are classes available at CMU’s main campus also offered online?
MR: Not all courses offered on CMU’s main campus are available online. For courses that are offered both online and on-campus, learning outcomes and expectations remain the same, only the way the course is delivered changes.
How does online registration work? Is it open during the same time on campus registration is?
MR: Global Campus tries to closely match the start of registration with main campus. The same system, Course Search and Registration, is used to enroll in classes. However, I think the best kept secret is the use of filters in the upper right corner of the system. For campus students, the filter is defaulted to only display main campus courses. If the filters are expanded, students can also search for courses offered at CMU centers in Michigan and throughout the country as well as online. Registration for Global Campus courses, including online courses, ends five calendar days before the start of the class—this does differ from main campus registration times.
What is the duration of online classes?
MR: CMU Online offers courses on eight-week accelerated terms, which differs from campus course offerings. Some online courses are also offered in lengths of 12 weeks and 16 weeks. CMU Online has recently begun to offer an additional term which starts after the first term and runs simultaneously with the first and second terms. This allows students who may drop their first term class to add a class that may start a few weeks later.
Speaking of dropping classes, do the drop and withdrawal processes differ with online classes?
MR: Drop and withdrawal time frames differ from main campus — this is often the most confusing factor to main campus students. Students can drop an online class for a full refund during week one of the term. From week two of the term to the mid-point of the class, students can withdraw from a class and receive a grade of “W.” With each passing week, a decreasing amount of tuition is refunded to the student until at the mid-point of the course, no tuition is refunded. Students are not allowed to withdraw from a course after the mid-point.
Is traveling necessary in order to take exams?
MR: Travel isn’t necessary for online classes and can be completed 100 percent online, with the exception being if the course requires proctored exams.
How does proctoring for online exams work?
MR: Proctoring is a new and often confusing process for students. Not all online undergraduate courses require a proctor. We note which courses require proctored exams so it is visible when enrolling in a course through the Course Search and Registration system. CMU Online proctors exams at two locations: At Park Library Room 321 and at our CMU north campus offices.
Do you think taking online classes is beneficial to students?
MR: It really depends on the learning style and preference of the student — some prefer to be in-class where there is direct face-to-face interaction with fellow students and the instructor, while for others, online offers them flexibility and convenience they may need at that particular time.