It’s evening in Jerusalem and the sun has just started to drop below the Israeli skyline. From her window at the St. George’s Cathedral Pilgrims Guest House, Lori Skinner takes in the view and recalls the day’s events. Lori, a sophomore at Shorter, is nearly 6,000 miles from home, taking part in an archeological excavation trip offered through the college’s study abroad program.
The group of 12 Shorter students and local residents have just completed a tiring five-and-half hours in the hot sun excavating at Bethsaida. But Lori’s hard day at work doesn’t end when the pickaxes and trowels are packed away. Lori pulls out her laptop and with a push of a button and a few clicks of the mouse, she’s now attending a Shorter College algebra class, earning college credit half a world away from the Hill.
Made possible through Shorter’s recently launched Online Program, the online course allows Lori to connect with her peers, her instructor and complete homework assignments in an instant thanks to today’s modern technology. The Online Program, which made its debut in June, offers full eight-week online courses in subjects like freshman English, history, sports leadership and sociology.
“It goes to show the convenience that technology provides,” said Lori. “It feels very reassuring that one can be so far from home and the familiar, but still be so connected.”
“There are certainly benefits from taking an online course,” said Sean Butcher, director of Online Programs for the college. “Since there are no set classes to attend, students have more flexibility in scheduling classes around their other commitments. The students also have more control over how they manage their study schedule, and this gives them a greater ability to work at their own pace.”
Lori began her algebra course on June 8, which also marked the beginning of her last week in Israel. So how does a student manage being a part of a five-week archeological dig and take an online math course at the same time? With plenty of discipline, says Lori. “I did find it difficult to have time to soak in everything here in Israel when I needed to make time for the math homework.”
Though online classes are sometimes considered to be “easy,” Mr. Butcher is quick to point out that expectations and outcomes are the same as those for a traditional class. “Online classes are not an easy option; the workload for an online course is equivalent to taking a traditional class.”
The addition of online courses grew from the college’s strategic plan and is an important step toward opening new avenues for individuals seeking a college education, according to Shorter College president, Dr. Harold E. Newman. “We recognize that we live in a technological world and that people are turning more frequently to the Internet for educational services,” he said.
“We also recognize that not everyone can go to a campus and attend classes. By utilizing an online format for the delivery of our courses, we allow that segment of the population to have the educational experiences that they need.”
Shorter has also added online classes in the sport management field, which focuses on the preparation of professionals qualified to manage and lead sport-related organizations.
Find out more about taking online courses>