WKU adds more online courses

Caitlin Carter

Samantha Forney, a senior from Scranton, Pa., is one of the growing number of students who choose to take web courses.

While a student at WKU, she has taken 13 classes online – all of which have also been offered in a physical classroom.


More than one in four students in the United States is enrolled in at least one online class, according to the website for the Sloan Consortium, a non-profit organization that promotes online learning in higher education.

WKU has recently started offering more web courses to keep up with students’ fast-paced lives, said Cindy Troutman, assistant director for Distance Learning.

There were 534 web courses offered this fall, compared to 353 in fall 2009, Troutman said.

Including winter and summer terms, more than 1,000 courses are offered online each year, Troutman said.

Only three web courses were available in 1998, the first year they were offered, she said.

More than 8,000 students take at least one online course per year at WKU, Troutman said. This number increases between 20 and 25 percent each year.

Mark Doggett, assistant professor of Architecture and Manufacturing Sciences, said many of the students he encounters within his program tend to take web courses.

“It’s mostly a matter of convenience,” Doggett said. “Students may take a schedule overload – they may take 18 credit hours compared to where they would normally take a 15-credit hour semester. This way they can take an extra course online, where a regular course would have conflicted.”

Forney said she began taking web courses to improve her GPA but found they were more convenient.

Although Forney lives in the Chi Omega sorority house, just minutes away from any classroom, she said at times web courses are a better fit.

“You don’t always have to do the assignments immediately,” Forney said. “You can work them into your own schedule.”

Forney said she has had only a handful of bad experiences in taking web courses.

“I had a terrible online experience one semester,” she said. “The professor gave us more work to do online than I had in three of my classes combined that took place in the classroom setting. The professor was actually rude when you would e-mail them – it was like they were bothered that you had a question about the material.”

Forney said she hasn’t let her few bad experiences keep her from taking more web courses, though, and she recommends every student take one if possible.

“Online classes have not only let me set my own schedule in college, but they have also forced me to become self-reliant,” she said.