University looks to expand online

Online enrollment rose 20 percent for this year.

In the past year, the amount of online classes held at Temple has increased nearly 20 percent as the university moves toward a fully online degree option, said Daniel White, director of digital education.

During the 2013-14 school year, Temple offered 423 online classes and more than 6,700 students enrolled, according to university data. In Spring 2014, there were 4,102 students registered to take an online course, most of which were in the Fox School of Business, which currently offers the most online courses.

One of the Office of Digital Education’s long-term goals is to expand its course load so that students from far away can take all their classes online and still earn a degree. Vicki Lewis-McGarvey, vice provost for university college, said Temple’s new goal for online classes is a “mission for access.”

“By having these online classes we can have more students that wouldn’t normally be able to make it to Temple,” Lewis-McGarvey said.

Temple is not the first school to move toward a fully online option. Penn State’s “World Campus” program allows students to receive a Penn State education without ever stepping on one of its campuses. It has a staff of professors who teach exclusively online. At Temple, however, many of the same professors who teach on Main Campus supervise online classes.

Temple offers six graduate degrees completely online, and The Fox School of Business offers one undergraduate Bachelor of Business Administration. Lewis-McGarvey said that the online undergraduate degree program is primarily meant to help transfer students get their degree on time.

Besides expanding the online course catalog, the ODE is also moving to make the classes more interactive.

Right now, many courses use discussion boards to facilitate communication. Some professors have also implemented the use of Temple’s WebEx, a video conferencing program that creates more interaction between the professor and students.

“We could ‘raise our hand’ any time we had a question, and by that, I mean there’s a button on WebEx that you can click and it sends a notification to the professor saying that someone had a question,” said Becca Brotschul, a junior psychology major. “You could also chat with a specific classmate to ask a question or get clarification about something the professor said.”

There are approximately 300 online classes this spring semester, Lewis-McGarvey said. Students can choose from a multitude of course options like hybrid and video-based distance education classes, where students in a classroom web conference with other students who are either from another classroom or at home. There are also asynchronous courses, which allow the student to work at his or her own pace, and synchronous classes wherein the student and teacher have to be online at the same scheduled time.

Aish Menon can be reached at or on Twitter @aishmenon.

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