Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Online Classes Bring School Home

“I tend to learn better online. If I miss something, I can keep going over it until I have it,” said online student Stacia Wenckus.

For three and a half years, Stacia Wenckus has whittled away on her associate in arts degree from Rio Salado College.
A single mom with a full-time job, she has snatched study time between loads of laundry, her son’s naps and the late evening hours.

This May, the Phi Theta Kappa honor student’s diligent efforts will pay off when she graduates. But she’s not done yet. Her goal is to become a nurse so she’s looking to transfer to a university or maybe complete the Rio Salado College online nursing program.

Her favorite classes have been her online anatomy and physiology classes.

“I love those classes. The labs with the cadaver are very detailed and I don’t have to deal with the formaldehyde smell,” said Wenckus.
“Basically everything is right there. You peel away layer after layer, studying each in great depth,” said Wenckus.

Not only have the virtual 3D anatomy labs become a favorite, she’s also become a fan of online learning. Slightly hearing impaired, she hates to interrupt her classmates to ask for clarification. With the online format, she doesn’t have to.

“It’s much better for me. I tend to learn better online. If I miss something, I can keep going over it until I have it,” said Wenckus.

Not only is the course work fascinating, but Wenckus appreciates the freedom of setting her own schedule to pursue a degree online.

Attending a traditional college program when her son was born, Wenckus thought her dreams of a college education would have to be put on hold.

“Rio Salado online has allowed a once closed door to reopen again. A career path I thought that would have to be greatly delayed has become achievable much sooner,” said Wenckus.
Wenckus is like thousands of other students each year who find online degree programs the perfect fit for their lifestyle.
Students who live far from a community college, who have childcare issues and limited chunks of time for classes realize online courses provide a valuable alternative to the traditional college setting.

“Rio Salado’s online courses provide educational opportunities for more students and a more diverse population,” said Rio Salado College President Linda Thor.
“No longer are students forced to align their schedule with the course offerings of a college. Online education allows students to pursue a degree even when time and distance may make gaining a college education challenging,” said Thor.

New improved technology for online classes is also boosting enrollment. Today’s online classes are far different from their earlier counterparts. Online classes at Rio Salado use a variety of technologies to enhance the learning experience including interactive, engaging software, virtual labs and multimedia presentations. Courses also use Auralog voice recognition software to learn foreign languages and WIMBA software that allows students to communicate orally over the web in class discussions and one-on-one with teachers.
“Students in today’s online classes are engaged and active participants in learning,” said Michael Cottam Rio Salado College director of instructional design and technology.

Rio Salado College, ”The College Within Everyone's Reach”, is one of the ten fully-accredited Maricopa County community colleges. Rio Salado has 450 online classes with start dates every Monday. The college offers degrees and certificates in business, education, healthcare, law enforcement and more. For registration or more information call 480-517-8540 or go to www.riosalado.edu/registration