Samantha Lipton is a full-time Pierce College student working at one of the college’s office at the front desk.
Like most students, working and going to school proves to be a balancing act among the two priorities, and when Lipton heard about Pierce’s distance education classes, she thought it was a perfect alternative to regular classes.
“Actually I heard from one of my friends that it was a really neat idea because it’s a way of getting the classes that you need and being able to work a job and have family kind of things going on and being able to take classes,” Lipton said.
The distance education program–which entails online classes–has been around for a number of semesters at Pierce, offering students classes that fit around their schedule.
“We have them specific to Pierce, but obviously all the other colleges in our district have distance education courses as well,” said Wendy Bass, distance education coordinator.
David Schamus, chair of the Computer Science and Information Technology Department, explains that there are two types of online courses, completely online courses that do not have in-person class meetings, and hybrid courses that meet online as well as in person.
Aside from online courses, most classes offered at Pierce use some degree of web enhancement such as Moodle, a website for instructors to communicate course materials to students. For those students who don’t go to Pierce, you can also attend online courses (such as these online courses for high school students).
“About 95 percent of what we do on campus with distance education is web enhanced,” said Schamus.
According to Bass, who also teaches online courses like Child Development 1, online courses have been in high demand from students at Pierce.
“There’s a lot of student demand for online classes from students that are working full-time or taking care of family. Some of our students have disabilities, and it’s hard for them to come on campus,” Bass said.
With all the benefits of taking distance education classes comes a higher level of responsibility for taking these courses and being able to succeed in the online environment.
“I actually think it’s harder to take an online class than a face-to-face class. You have to be very self-motivated, you have to know to log online and stay current,” Bass said.
The ability of students to regulate themselves and stay focused is a make-or-break factor in the success. Bass admits she is frequently sees the frustration students go through with online classes.
Despite the difficulties some students face, Lipton still has a positive outlook on Pierce’s distance education program, and even offers advice for those in her position who are contemplating online courses.
“Do the work and ask questions. It’s kind of self-paced and self-motivated, so you have to be kind of motivated on your own to do well. If you put in the work, you’ll get the grade,” said Lipton.
For more information on the distance education program at Pierce, please visit online.piercecollege.edu.