Baylor bucks the online trend

University hangs its hat on the old-fashioned virtues of learning in a community of real students and teachers. The advantages of online classes don't make up for the loss of community, school says.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

Bucking the trend toward offering more distance education classes, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has put the kibosh on offering online courses, reports The Lariat.

Most universities across the country are adding online courses to their curriculum as fast as they can develop them. Baylor University, however, is eschewing online's potential enrollment boost in favor of in-class education and community learning appeal.

"I do think a factor in why these courses haven't developed is because of Baylor's historical valuing of having an in-class experience where you have inner change among the various students in the class in real time," said Dr. James Bennighof, vice provost for academic affairs and policy. "Part of the interest in having a residential campus has to do with people learning in a community."

Although Bennighof notes the growing trend of online learning, he emphasized the necessary role of face-to-face interaction among professors and students.

"Some of the possible advantages of these courses would be time flexibility -- you can do it when you can fit it in -- and in some cases, location flexibility, if you're one course short of graduation and you want to get married and get a job, and he's in Alaska," Bennighof said.

Some Baylor students disagree with the administration's stance against distance education.

"I think some classes would be better if taught over the Internet," Catalano said. "Sometimes if a professor doesn't do a good job of teaching the material, I think it would be better to just be at home instead of going to class and spend the same amount of time teaching it to yourself," said senior Philip Catalano

Other large Texas universities are jumping on the the online learning bandwagon, however. Texas Tech University offers about 100 different Outreach and Distance Learning courses, and Texas A&M University has more than 100 distance education and web-based section courses available to undergraduates.

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