Internet classes test students, professors

Charles Maricle

Charles Maricle

Are you one who struggles each morning to get out of bed to make to class on time? For some classes, SDSU might have solved your early morning blahs.

South Dakota Sate University now has Internet courses offered fully online.

These classes allow students to avoid the hassles of traditional classes and schedules.

For example, a course taken online gives the students the opportunity to find out what the professor wants to have them know at a convenient time.

Teresa Majercik finds her Internet classes a definite help in her situation.

Majercik is a registered nurse in Mitchell. She has two children ages 7 and 4. Majercik is able to support her children while furthering her education.

This ability to take classes without suspending life appeals to many non-traditional students. All work is given by the teacher through the Learning Management System. This system is Web Course Tools or WebCT.

WebCT is a provider of e-Learning solutions for higher education. It allows the instructor to put course material online. With WebCT the professor normally doesn’t have any contact with the students.

Tish Smyer, who teaches Nursing Research and Theory 474, dislikes not seeing her students. Yet through her online course, she admits there is more communication between her and her students.

“I do like getting to know my students even better when they’re in the class,” Smyer said.

Tom Roe, who teaches of Statistical Methods 281, agrees with Smyer’s assessment.

“Sometimes it’s easier to interact with a student using the Internet then it is with a person who will come and sit in the back row and never participate,”Roe said.”

“These students on the Internet have to participate,” Roe said.

Larry Porter, instructional designer for WebCT at SDSU, calls this online participation a student responsibility

“It takes the responsibility for the learning and shifts more and more of it to the student,” Porter said.

Last semester, over 800 students took that personal responsibility.

They enrolled in classes ranging from Speech 101 and Biology 101 to Advance Nursing Practice 610 and Phytochemicals 704.

Many of these 800 are on-campus students. This set up makes available those classes that may conflict with those already in the students schedules, Porter said.

So even though two traditional courses are offered at the same time, the students have an option of still being able to take both classes.

Students don’t have to spend a great deal of money in technological accessories either.

The basics include Internet access, e-mail and a Java capable browser of at least version 4.0. Netscape version 4.5 or Internet Explorer version 5.0 and a screen resolution of 800 x 600 are recommended.

Also recommended are several system requirements for both the computer and the software. But all this high tech equipment does not take away all the possibilities of network failure.

The major complaint against internet courses is the unreliability. The recommendations of the Instructional Technologies Center at SDSU will help to minimize any network slow downs.

All these requirements and recommendations are listed through the technical requirements section of the visitors area of the WebCT division of the distance education segment of the academics portion of the SDSU web site.

The web address is