BY KELLY DZIALO
County College of Morris offers online and hybrid courses allow students to engage in lectures, tests, quizzes, discussions, readings, and assignments as if they were in a regular classroom without the constraints of that environment.
A professor and other students are active in the class with them, however, the course is conducted entirely online except for possible orientations or testing.
“A lot of students don’t just go to school anymore,” said Sheri Ventura, distance learning coordinator at CCM. “They work as well. [Online classes] allow them to work around schedules; it’s done on their time.”
Many students take advantage of the flexibility online and hybrid courses offer. Felicia Melvin, a liberal arts major at CCM, is one of those students.
“I’m taking six classes, so [online courses] break it up,” Melvin said. “I don’t have to come [to campus] every single day.”
To balance her schedule this semester, Melvin said she chose to enroll in art history, history, and computer technologies as online courses.
“The advantage is that I can do it at my own pace,” Melvin said. “I feel like I can learn by teaching myself, it’s better. There are no disadvantages.”
Ventura agreed, as long as students are prepared to maintain their own assignment schedules.
“Being well-prepared, self-disciplined, staying focused on the syllabus, being organized are just some of the basic tools for success,” she said.
While deadlines are determined by the professor, distance learning courses allow students to allocate time to work on the course that works with their schedule.
“Students need the disciple,” Ventura said. “That’s probably one of the biggest misconceptions, that it’s just going to be easier. There’s a calendar, a syllabus, a timeline that [students] have to follow along with.”
Underestimating the workload may catch students off-guard at first.
“I actually didn’t know [photography] was a hybrid,” said Alaster Winter, a graphic design major at CCM. “It’s a little more difficult for me because I’m more of a visual person.”
Winter said he has a plan to be successful in the course despite his learning preferences.
“I’ll listen more in class and do better in class. The visual things in class will help me when I’m online,” he said.
While doing the work on their own time might sound appealing, online classes carry a workload which might overwhelm some students.
“I encourage students, instead of jumping into an online class, to take a hybrid class first,” Ventura said. “Hybrids are a combination of face-to-face and online and are a good way for students to become familiar with Blackboard, our learning management system. But also have face-to-face contact with a professor, which some students really like or need.”
Students can take a quiz on the distance learning page on CCM’s website to see if they would be a good candidate for an online or hybrid course.
“[The quiz] identifies areas they may need to strengthen, but the success really depends on the student. They have to be an independent learner,” said Ventura.