GW steps into global market competition with online classes

GW undergraduates were able take courses this summer without ever leaving the comforts of their homes.

In a move to make GW competitive on the Internet, undergraduate classes in business administration, tourism, creative writing, and computer literacy were offered online for the first time this summer, said Don Lehman, vice president of Academic Affairs.

“The whole idea is to make summer education more accessible for students who might not be in the District,” Lehman said. “The Internet will allow everyone to take summer session.”

GW hopes to hold eight online classes next summer and will focus on expanding the topics of study available, said Donna Scarboro, the director of Summer Session.

“I think students will always want the traditional classroom experience, but this has its own appeal,” Scarboro said.

Scarboro said she thinks the Internet classes may allow for more interaction between students and professors and provide more options to students who dislike large lecture halls.

As part of its distance and mediated learning program, GW has offered graduate level courses over the Internet for several years, University Registrar Brian Selinsky said. The School of Business and Public Management and the School of Engineering and Applied Science offer project management classes online.

Professor Bill Lynch, executive director of the Center for Distance and Mediated Learning, said students who participate in online classes reap many benefits.

“Student satisfaction with online courses is higher,” Lynch wrote in an essay co-authored with colleagues Greg Kearsley and David Wizer. “GPA and other measures of student achievement are the same or better. A higher level of critical thinking and problem solving is reported, and there is usually much more discussion among students and instructors in a course.”

Roger Whitaker, assistant vice president for Academic Development, said GW is still trying to evaluate exactly how many classes students will be able to take on the Internet in the future.

Lehman said he has received positive feedback so far.

“Internet classes are an expensive program, so we are being very cautious,” Lehman said. “But if the programs continue to work, we will see more and more of this. GW wants to be in a position to take advantage of technology for the benefit of our students.”

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