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Monday, October 20, 2014 - 11:06am

The era of online classes

KETK
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POSTED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 6:26pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 4:16pm

After high school, most young adults head to college .

But, due to the high cost of education or maybe because of the complexities of life, some student can't make a traditional college setting work.

But, nowadays, higher learning is just a point and click away.

Colleges have been offering online classes for more than 30 years, but recently, they have become a hot item.

"It does not affect my full time job," said University of Phoenix student Angie Rice.

"I wanted to try something different," said graduate from Devry University Shane Nowak.

''You do it at your own pace," said UT Tyler junior Junior Martinez.

University of Phoenix is the nation's largest private university offering more than 100 degree programs at more than 100 locations, plus online.

University of Phoenix was started in 1976, providing an opportunity for working adults to achieve a higher education.

Donna Wells is a teacher at the online university and has been for the past 11 years.

Wells has taught both face to face and online classes.

But, she believes with the way our society is advancing in technology, online classes prepares students to become more tech savvy when they enter the workforce.

"Having an online environment as part of the academic preparation for students to me is a great benefit because it prepares them to more readily and seemly step into the work world," said Wells. 

Angie Rice lives in Kilgore but is matriculating through the University of Phoenix.

"It's more fast pace, it is demanding, but it's something if you have the will to do it you will get it done."

Rice works as a full-time business manager and is busy at home with her 4 year old son Colton.

"This is the only way I can see that I can achieve my goals and still invest in myself and still be able to have a life."

She is a year into getting her bachelor's degree in accounting and then on to her master's in business management.

Even though she already has a good full-time job she wants that degree.

Rice can get a bachelors and masters in 5 years online,to go the same route in a traditional college it would take ten years.

"It does affect my home life but I still take the time to connect with my son to raise my son and still get my degree."

Shane Nowak got his degree online at Devry University while working a full-time job. 

"I could take it whenever I needed to," said Nowak.

Nowak said one of the perks is he saved money on books because they were all online.

"You could use your IPad or IPhone or e-reader and you can download it that way even if you weren't at home you could still study."

The cost was the same as classes on campus.

But, he saved money not having a 40-minute commute.

Nowak also says employers had no problem with an online degree. 

"With all the interviews I've had, I've never had any employer ask that question."

Junior Martinez is a junior at University of Texas at Tyler.

He has taken at least one online class every year since he has been in school.

"Taking online classes is kind of like a double edge sword," said Martinez.

Martinez says you have to learn how to manage your time.

"You have to have self motivation to do it online."

Martinez says he likes mixing his schedule up with some online classes and some traditional, so he still has the face to face interaction with his teacher.

"I couldn't do all online classes you wouldn't have people to help you out with of course you can email them but it's very impersonal."

But for those students like Junior who are still on the fence on whether or not online classes are right for them, some schools now offer half and half classes. You spend half of the class online and half in the classroom.

Tyler Junior College offers this type of program.

It's called hybrid classes.

Ken Craver, Director of Distance Education at TJC, says they created the hybrid program about three years ago.

"They can listen to the lecture or read notes online then come to class and let's dig in on that lecture let's discuss that lecture."

TJC offers over 500 sections of online and hybrid classes.

University of Texas at Tyler is starting this same type of program in the fall.

There are about 6800 students at UT Tyler, 1200 of those students are fully online.

"That's a huge increase from the fall of 2010 just three years ago," said UT Tyler Assistant Vice President of Teaching Innovation Dr. Scott Marzilli.

Marzilli says the university will be offering a new program in the fall.

The UT Tyler president said quote; " this is the most important initiative the school will undertake this decade." 

"A lot of students in this region are either working students they have families so coming to class 5 days a week is really not a possibility for them," said Marzilli.

As the world changes, higher education has had to change to meet those needs.

And it appears online classes will only be expanding in the future.

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