May 2016, News & Features

SAU begins offering online classes

The end of the academic year doesn’t mean school is out for everyone – many students take courses in summer school. But those students who do have to continue their education during the vacation will benefit from an educational and technological innovation.

Beginning with Maymester, a three-week long summer session starting Monday, May 16th and ending on Friday, June 3, Saint Augustine’s will join the trend of offering students the opportunity to take classes online. The university will take a cautious leap into the new format by offering courses in a hybrid format – part classroom, part online.

Students will attend classes at least once a week with a Saint. Augustine’s professor and their fellow classmates. Each class will be approximately three hours and 20 minutes, with groups of the classes in the morning and groups of the classes in the afternoon.

On days in which students do not meet in the classroom, students will be completing online work through Blackboard, an interactive platform designed for online learning. It is up to the professor’s discretion to decide how many days a week the class will meet in person, so each hybrid course will be slightly different.

A variety of hybrid courses will be offered including Introduction to Sports Management, English Composition, African-American History, and Survey of Mass Communications.

Professor Robin Luney, an instructor in the English Department who played a leading role in developing the hybrid courses, said she will conduct her hybrid class about half in classroom and half online. “There will be a lot of discussion forums and multimedia resources,” Ms. Luney said. I think the mixed methods of learning will help students excel and stay interested in the class.”

Dan Holly, an assistant professor in the Media and Communications Department, said he is glad Saint Augustine’s is joining this trend because it allows greater flexibility for both students and faculty. “A lot of students want to work during the summer, and hybrid courses gives them more opportunity to take jobs that they ordinarily would not be able to take because they would have to be in class,” Mr. Holly said.

Hybrid classes will also be offered during the summer semester, which runs from June 6 to July 13. A list of classes offered during the Maymester and summer semesters can be found online by going to the Office of the Registrar’s page on St. Augustine’s website. Student advisors can help students choose and register for these classes.

University administrators estimate that almost 100 students have financial aid available to make these classes more accessible, so it is important for students to examine their options and opportunities.

More and more universities are offering classes online to allow students more flexibility in completing their education, especially students who have to work to pay the steadily increasing costs of an education.

The summer hybrid courses are only a first step, said Dr. Yvonne M. Coston, the provost of St. Augustine’s University and the brainchild of the institution’s digitization movement.

“We’re excited about this and excited about where it will eventually go in terms of moving from not only offering face-to-face instruction but offering a hybrid approach as well as fully online programs and courses,” Dr. Coston said.

Saint Augustine’s technological upgrades extend beyond hybrid courses, Dr. Coston said. The university is continuing to develop improved payment processing, registration methods, and other improvements, she said.