Archives For Online Courses

Through piles of paperwork and binders filled with course notes, you would never know Julie Daniels is an online student.

“I’m really weird, and I don’t like reading off the computer,” says Daniels. “I still have to print everything out because I like it in front of me.”

online learningLast semester, when Daniels took nine credit hours, this resulted in three binders full of PowerPoint presentations and class notes. If she has a paper due, Daniels writes it out first in hand, edits it, and then transcribes it into the computer.

“I don’t know how many other people this would work for, but I’m just used to paper and pencil,” says Daniels. “There’s still some old-fashioned in me.”

At 61, Julie Daniels is the ideal online student. She’s driven, works hard in her classes, completes assignments ahead of time, and gets As and Bs. However, that wasn’t always the case.

“I went to college when I first got out of high school, but I wasn’t serious. I was only going because my parents wanted me to, so I blew it off,” explains Daniels. “You know, boyfriends, frat parties, all that kind of stuff got in the way of school.”

A mother of five adult children and grandmother to 12 grand- and great-grandchildren, ages 3-25, all of that changed about four and half years ago.

“I wanted it for me, for a sense of accomplishment, but I wanted to show my parents that I could do it, “ says Daniels.

As an online graduate student in SHSU Online’s Sociology program, age is not an issue for Daniels nor her classmates; they come from as varied a background as she does, are diverse in age, and hail from far-flung places.

A resident of San Antonio, Texas, Daniels stayed local, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at St. Mary’s in 2014. While there, Daniels received a Presidential Scholarship, and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. Still, her journey was met with some adversity. Her parents passed away within a year of each other and she was often the oldest student in her face-to-face courses.

“I got teased a lot,” admits Daniels. “The kids would look at me, and they would say, why are you here? I told them, because when I was their age, I messed around and didn’t think school was important. But they would answer, No, why are you here, you’re too old.”

As an online graduate student in SHSU Online’s Sociology program, age is not an issue for Daniels nor her classmates; they come from as varied a background as she does, are diverse in age, and hail from far-flung places (at least from San Antonio’s perspective) like Japan, France, Puerto Rico, and closer to home, Houston.

“It’s very interesting, the amount of distance that was between some of us and then some of us were as close as Houston,” says Daniels.

While Daniels hasn’t completely embraced all the digital tools available to her, she still thrives in an online environment, utilizing group discussions in Blackboard and email to communicate with her classmates and to sort out questions and problems. It is this communication, Daniels believes, that is one of the keys to success in online classes.

“If you have good communication with your fellow classmates, you’ll do a lot better,” says Daniels.  “A lot of us could figure things out without involving the professor. What’s even nicer is when you have the same classmates a couple of times you get to know them. Hopefully, one day we all will get to see each other.”

If all goes according to plan, that could be Spring 2016 at graduation. She will also be 62 years old.

If you’re interested in returning to school, no matter what your age, visit Online Programs and Degrees Programs to find the right online educational opportunity for you.

Forensic science is under the popular-culture microscope, thanks to programs such as Law and Order, CSI, and NCIS playing on millions of television screens across the world. But long after the glow of Hollywood’s lights have dimmed and actors have returned to their trailers, an assistant professor in SHSU’s Department of Forensic Science is bringing the reality of forensic science to life in the online platform.

Dr. Jasmine DrakeAssistant Professor Jasmine Drake, Ph.D., a Louisiana native who came to SHSU by way of the Drug Enforcement Administration as a forensic chemist, developed and teaches an online Ethics and Professional Practice course to be used for the Minor in Forensic Science program. She says the concept and capabilities of online learning allow for instructors to impact a larger number of students in a global economy.

“Although an online platform may not be appropriate for particular courses in forensic science, such as those requiring the learning of lab-based concepts, there are many fundamental courses across various forensic science disciplines which can be effectively taught online,” she says. “One thing I enjoy the most about teaching online courses is that it gives me the opportunity to interact with and impact a larger group of students. Many of the students enrolled in my online course are non-traditional students who would not otherwise be able to attend the same courses in a traditional classroom setting.”

Additionally, the Department of Forensic Science offers an online “Introduction to Forensic Science” course, where instructors with experience as practitioners use their experience in the field, along with the technological capabilities of online learning, to deliver a stimulating and flexible learning environment for students.

Drake says when it came to developing the course, she utilized several technological applications with assistance from the CJ Online Instructional Design Team, including lecture materials, video content, web-based links, and audio recordings.

“I believe it is my responsibility as an online instructor to effectively deliver course materials and learning objectives in a fashion that would mirror the face-to-face instruction found in a traditional classroom setting,” she says. “One challenge to online teaching is achieving a sense of community, but I was able to address this challenge by integrating discussion topics and forums to increase the sharing of ideas and communication between individual students.”

​The minor in Forensic Science caters to criminal justice majors who have a general interest in forensics and intend to apply for graduate programs in forensic science or pursue investigative or forensic career paths.

Drake says students interested in pursuing online learning must take the time to understand their courses and plan their time appropriately to succeed.

“I think that technology is rapidly changing the face of education, and I would advise any students interested in pursuing an online education to be sure to keep an open line of communication with their professor to ensure they understand the learning objectives and specific rubrics for course assessment,” she says. “They should also pay very close attention to the course schedule and timelines for mastering concepts, since it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to manage their time in an online course, which is self-paced.”

For more information about SHSU’s Department of Forensic Science  or the Minor in Forensic Science, visit www.forensics.shsu.edu.

shutterstock_194704859Although online education has gained significant popularity in recent years, the processes of obtaining a degree online as opposed to taking classes on campus still raises doubts for many.

However, a recent white paper from Learning House and Aslanian Market Research, titled “Equal Opportunity in Higher Education: Understanding Rigor and Engagement Across Learning Modalities,” found that there are strong similarities between the quality of on-campus and online courses:

  • Online students write and read as much as traditional students
  • Faculty members for online courses provide the same amount of feedback as faculty in traditional classrooms, and possibly more quickly

The report, combining data from a survey conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) as well as Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (OCS), obtained results from more than 500 institutions nationwide and 27 in Canada, and 1,500 individuals nationwide, respectively.

Through comparing the results of the NSSE and OCS surveys, it was found that across nearly all the questions examined, there were little to no significant statistical differences in academic rigor or faculty engagement between the groups. However, there were some directional trends and conclusions that did emerge, including:

  • Online students are writing just as much as, and possibly more than, NSSE students.
  • Online students are preparing just as much as NSSE students, but may be spending more of this preparation time reading.
  • Online students report feeling less challenged by their online coursework
— perhaps due to their age and life experiences they bring into the classroom.
  • Online faculty are providing the same amount of feedback, but may be doing so more quickly.

Our student stories speak for themselves, but SHSU Online is dedicated to providing modern technological applications and support to the university’s award-winning distance education programs. Visit our Awards and Recognitions page to see how SHSU Online stacks up against academic institutions across the nation.

SHSU offers more than 35 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.