Intensified online classes squeeze 3 credit hours into 5-week format

Three classes in Fort Hays State University's online Master of Liberal Studies criminal justice program will be redesigned into five-week periods this fall instead of the standard 16-week format.

The classes will be offered sequentially, allowing students to focus on one three-hour class at a time yet still complete three in the semester.

This pilot program is a response to students' desires to focus their studies more intensively. The Justice Studies faculty and the Virtual College polled existing online students and found that many preferred this type of learning.

"This change is a reaction to the students comments that they believe this type of schooling will be more effective for the average online student's lifestyle," said Dr. Robert Scott, chair of the Department of Justice Studies. "They want to zone in on one thing, finish it, go to the next thing, finish it, go to the third thing."

"This is a pilot program for us, and so far it's going good," said Dennis King, director of the Virtual College and Learning Technologies.

The first class, Criminal Justice Organization Structures, will start this month with an enrollment of 16. The second class, Workplace Violence, starting in October, has 13 enrolled. The third, Corporate Crime, beginning in November, has 11 enrolled.

"Judging by the reaction already, this type of class schedule is a big hit," said Scott. "Numbers of students enrolled are huge, so we plan to carry this into the spring semester. In the spring 2010, three undergraduate classes will be added to the three graduate classes.

The classes will retain the high degree of personal interaction between instructor and students and among students, which is a hallmark of FHSU virtual classes.

"Even with this progressive type of schooling, we still want students to have the time to effectively communicate with their classmates and teachers," said King. "This obviously won't work for all disciplines, but we believe it to work better for our situation."

The pilot program could be an innovation that becomes a permanent solution to the specific challenges facing online learners.

"We are always looking for new and better ways to serve our students," said King.

For more information on the new Justice Studies virtual schedule, contact the FHSU Virtual College at (785) 628-4291.

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