For most Union College students, summer is hardly a vacation. Whether on the family farm or in a high-tech internship, students work for their tuition. Because of this, Union has resisted the trend to offer a jumpstart program which would take precious weeks out of the summer for new students. This year, the college is using technology to create better balance for new and current students who need to work and desire to earn college credit. Two online classes are proving you can earn college credit and keep your summer job, too.
“We want to make it easier for students to take summer courses at Union College,” said Michelle Mesnard, associate vice president for academic initiatives. “Staying on campus isn’t possible for many students. Providing classes in a more flexible online format makes them accessible to a lot more students.”
HIST 157, more commonly known as West and the World, is a general education requirement for most bachelor’s degrees at Union College. Dr. Ben Tyner, associate professor of history, taught the six-week course, which focused on the contributions of major cultures in shaping the modern world.
Mike Mennard, an adjunct professor of English, taught Ancient Western Literature, a chronological look at major works of literature that influenced Western culture.
Both courses combine synchronous and asynchronous teaching styles “to provide a wider variety of tools for an instructor to connect with students,” explained Ms. Mesnard. The teachers combined a regular online meeting time twice a week in Google Hangouts with a variety of resources students can access on their own time.
“Our goal is to take the best from our instructors face-to-face teaching and add to that the benefits that come with the discussion boards and other online resources,” she explained.
Mesnard says these courses will start a trend to offer more online courses, adding more flexibility for students. “We are testing the waters with two classes this summer,” she said. “Our plan is to add more online classes next summer.”