I have always been a little skeptical of online courses. I have never taken an online course and have never taught one either. But as I’ve seen them grow in popularity, especially among dual enrollment and homeschool students, I started to reconsider: maybe they do have an important role to play in the higher education ecosystem? I decided to suspend judgement and spend 3 days with the Center for Teaching and Learning in early January to learn more about online learning and how one of my favorite courses to teach, CY-1000 Introduction to Cybersecurity, could be taught online. By the end of those 3 days my perspective had shifted. Now I am genuinely excited about the opportunity to offer CY-1000 online and can’t wait until it runs for the first time later this year. I’ve organized my takeaways from my time with the CTL into the top ten reasons you should consider offering your course online.
1. You don’t have to teach the online version!
Online classes can be taught from anywhere, and this makes qualified and doctrinally aligned adjuncts pretty easy to find. Plus, part of the online course process includes creating an Instructor Guide. This allows you to pass on important knowledge to the teacher so you can feel good about the quality of your online course.
2. The process of creating an online course substantially improves the in-person version of the course.
Online courses have to be rigorously organized in order to be effective. Course learning outcomes, module learning outcomes, biblical integration, and assessments need to be carefully considered, and course content must be clearly articulated. Once this structure and content goes into Canvas for the online course, it can be leveraged for the face-to-face version of the course as well. In fact, the same Canvas shell can be used for both versions of the course.
3. Your colleagues will be able to teach your in-person courses much easier on short notice if necessary.
The discipline required for organizing an online course and the content that is created can be leveraged by colleagues to come into your in-person course mid-stream and pick up where you left off. The Instructor Guide for the online course will be helpful for the in-person course under such circumstances.
4. It will broaden the exposure and impact of your course and program.
High school students across the country are looking for good online classes to take for dual enrollment credit. Many of them would prefer to take Cedarville courses but settle for something less, or worse, classes taught from a secular worldview. By offering your class online, you have the opportunity to impact these students.
5. It will help recruit students to CU and your program.
As high schoolers discover Cedarville through our high quality online classes, many will consider enrolling here for college where our faculty and staff can influence them in-person for Christ for 1,000 days.
6. Online classes produce extra revenue for the university.
Our administration has been telling us that online classes can significantly subsidize what we do best: the 1,000 days of face-to-face and holistic education we provide in our residential programs.
7. Online classes will reduce in-person course demand and make class sizes smaller.
As our enrollment has grown, many of our face-to-face course sections are over cap. As more students arrive on campus with course credit, in-person class sizes will shrink some, enabling us to interact with our students more. Plus, some on campus students, with your permission, could take the online version of the course. This option can be really helpful for students with course scheduling conflicts.
8. It will reduce grading!
Online courses stress auto grading, and these same assessments (e.g., module quizzes) can be used for the in-person course.
9. Having the lecture content in Canvas puts less pressure on lecture content for the in-person course.
Knowing that all the relevant information is available to the students on Canvas can free you up to pursue student questions and do more interacting during in-person lecture time without worrying about having to cover everything. Plus, students that have to miss a class and wonder if they’ve missed anything important 🙂 can catch-up easier.
10. Your course can live on after you.
Similar to writing a textbook, online courses embody part of you. In addition to your subject matter expertise and insights, they include your style and personality. After you leave Cedarville, your course, both the online and in-person versions, can be taught with the same quality and care you delivered when you taught it.