Online degrees, classes expanding curriculum at Central

Central Washington University assistant English professor Joshua Welsh learned early in his online teaching career that humor was not a tool that translated well from the face-to-face classroom. “In the classroom I can start cracking jokes and try to be really approachable,” Welsh said. “I’ve tried that online and you can almost hear the crickets chirping.” Instead of being driven by building a rapport with students on the first day of a course, Welsh said he has learned to give online students what they want — the materials. Not just some of the class. All of it. “I front load as much work as possible so when the student logs in the first day they see everything they’re going to have to do,” Welsh said. “Here are all my activities. I learned that the hard way.” For students both traditional and non-traditional, this can be a big help online. Justin Carroll is a 24-year-old cyber security major who started his undergraduate career taking online classes at Bellevue College and transferred to Central. Carroll said he typically takes one online class and two face-to-face classes a quarter, though this quarter he’s taking two of each. He said sometimes online classes lock you into a week-to-week schedule, but the good ones let you work ahead. “I like to just go ahead,” Carroll said. “I’m already two weeks ahead in one of my classes and school just started today … I need to do that to maintain sanity.” Carroll works full-time in the multi-modal education center in Black Hall, and said without the flexibility online classes bring him, he wouldn’t be able to pursue a degree. Much like in face-to-face learning, the experience of online classes can differ from teacher to teacher. Most of those adjustments come from learning how and where teachers organize materials in the system. CWU uses a learning management system called Canvas...

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