Area residents, as well as those who live nowhere near the campus, can take a variety of hands-on computer workshops through Plymouth State University, without leaving home.
Online classes include grant writing, accounting, debt elimination, computer applications, resumé writing, digital photography, graphic design, project management, business, law and more.
These instructor-facilitated non credit classes are designed to assist those who need to upgrade their job skills, learn a new talent or just exercise their intellect but find it inconvenient or impossible to participate in a traditional classroom setting.
“I was surprised by the popularity of these online classes,” said instructor Craig Power, who has been teaching over the Internet since 1996. “The classes appeal to students I was never able to reach in my 15 years in the classroom: working parents, people with disabilities, night workers, folks who live in remote areas and so on.”
“I think students find online classes tempting because the online schedule is so flexible,” Power continued. “Students can download and complete lessons and assignments at their convenience and in their own home or office. It doesn’t matter to me when or where they want to work through lessons, and it doesn’t matter to them where I am when I evaluate their assignments or answer their questions.”
Students in each six-week class use a friendly and intuitive Internet interface to review lessons, take quizzes and complete assignments. All participants can interact with one another and the instructor in discussion areas.
Course materials have been carefully designed to download quickly so as not to tie up the student’s time or telephone. Most lessons and assignments can be completed offline at the student’s leisure.
Students enjoy the personal contact they have with their instructor. “It feels like I have the instructor’s ear all around the clock,” said Barry Conner, a student in Power’s Creating Web Pages class. “I can ask a question the minute it occurs to me, and I’ll have an answer within a day.”
Fellow student Sally Janda agreed. “I like the fact that I’m learning on my own computer. My machine doesn’t have a real typical configuration, and many of the procedures I learned in classroom-based workshops never worked for me. With this online class, I get immediate feedback. Whenever my machine starts to misbehave, I just dash off a message to the teacher. So far, we’ve been able to work around my every problem.”
Online classes are not for everybody, Power cautioned. “Learning at your own pace and from your own home can be difficult for many people. There are many distractions that can derail even those with the best of intentions: kids, pets, chores, the phone, the television … it takes motivation and discipline to complete each and every weekly assignment.”
But Power insists that the rewards are well worth the effort. “I think that the Internet is exceeding everybody’s remotest expectations,” Power said. “Online classes help demystify the Internet for students and prepare them to harness the full potential of this amazing new technology. The Internet has already had a tremendous impact on the way we communicate. It is changing the way people perform research. It is changing the way we do business. And it will change the way we teach and learn.”
For more information on online computer workshops, all priced $79-$109, offered by Plymouth State University, contact Heidi Pettigrew at 603-535-3151 or visit www.ed2go.com/plymouth.