Carleton University OnLine is a hub of diverse and varied learning. It’s a place where academics and students spanning a myriad of disciplines intersect, where The Secret Lives of Poems meets Neuropharmacology, and where Ancient Science and Technology meets Planetary Astronomy.
Some departments at Carleton have a growing online presence and it is not by coincidence. We sat down, metaphorically, with professors from the Sprott School of Business, the Department of Law and Legal Studies, and the Department of Psychology to discuss why an online existence is key for modern education.
Jacques Maurice is the director of the Master of Accounting program at Carleton.
Rebecca Bromwich is an instructor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies and the program director for the Graduate Diploma in Conflict Resolution.
Q: Why do you think your department offers so many online classes?
JM: With the Sprott School of Business, only accounting offers online courses. In the design of the program, it was decided that the courses would be offered online in order to allow students to take the program remotely.
RB: We want to reach out to students who are geographically far away, but many of our online students are actually located on campus. The online format opens up flexibility for busy students and allows more students to participate in our classes than we could accommodate otherwise.
MS: PSYC has roughly 2,000 majors, several hundred minors, and many of the most popular courses at Carleton. For example, we routinely have over 7,000 registrations across PSYC 1001 and 1002 each year. It wouldn’t be possible for us to teach so many students without a combination of face-to-face and online sections.
Q: What does the online platform offer students?
JM: When business students are given the choice between online and lecture, close to 75 per cent choose to take the online version. There’s greater flexibility in that students can watch the videos on their own terms as opposed to a fixed class schedule.
RB: Students who participate in our online courses are able to participate in ways that fit their work and life scheduling. I did my PhD after having four kids, while actively working as a lawyer, which means I understand the intense competing time demands our students often face.
MS: Work full-time and can’t get on campus? Want to engage with the lectures on a Saturday morning? Can’t arrive at a timetable that works with your life? No problem. Our students present tremendous diversity in terms of circumstances and online alternatives offer a valuable and respectful convenience.
Q: Why do you think some classes are better suited to online?
JM: Accounting courses at the undergraduate level lend themselves well to online courses. That said, I do not think that our Master of Accounting program could be run this way. It would be difficult to run an accounting case course in an online format.
RB: I think that many courses can be offered online. Courses that are strongly content-driven, and where the class sizes are large in any event, lend themselves smoothly to blended (a combination of face-to-face lectures and online components) and online delivery. However, with appropriate uses of technology and levels of TA support, even skills-based courses, like mediation, which I teach, can be effectively delivered online.
MS: I think much depends on the instructor. Most of us are used to face-to-face classes and so teaching online represents a significant change. Instructors will be more effective in teaching online if they are willing to consider different ways of engaging students, explore alternative methods of assessment, and embrace the uncertainty that comes with something new.
With more flexibility and the potential to explore new methods of teaching, it is no surprise Carleton’s online community continues to grow. It opens new doors to students, whose lifestyles may conflict with traditional school systems, and to those who are geographically far away. By tapping into these demographics, Carleton proves it is not only invested in all students’ learning, but that it is poised to evolve alongside education standards. To learn more about CUOL’s resources and the benefits of online learning, visit www.carleton.ca/cuol/resources/
By Bianca Chan
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