“Chemistry is one of the more difficult classes to teach and learn online,” said Western Instructor Kristin Born.
For most of us, chemistry was the chance to get our hands dirty; mixing chemicals, performing experiments, and learning in a lab.
But as needs for students have changed over time, so has the course delivery. In total, Born had about 15-25 students in her online chemistry course at Western Technical College last fall.
From the beginning, this course is all about convenience. Rather than coming in for a lab, the lab comes to you. Each student receives a customized lab kit, delivered right to their home.
“The kits are similar to those subscription meal kits,” Born said. “All the tools, chemicals, and safety equipment are sent right to their doors.”
Convenience aside, Born believes that online courses, whether it be in chemistry, business, or any other general studies course, can actually be more rewarding, and more challenging, for students.
“Students learn to think for themselves,” Born said. “Because they don’t get instant answers from their teacher, they do more research, re-read directions more carefully and generally think more than they would in a face-to-face class. This may take more time in the end, but it creates a deeper level of understanding of the material and, in many situations, a greater sense of accomplishment when an assignment is complete.”
Online courses are becoming more popular, including at Western Technical College. According to Western’s research department, 2,638 students took at least one online course during the 2017-18 academic year. These students have come from states like Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington.
Having the course online is often essential for student success.
“In my face-to-face classes, students sometimes struggle coming in if the weather is bad, their kids are sick, or they got called into work,” Born said. “In many situations, my online students wouldn’t have been able to take the course if it had not been offered online because of these and a hundred other reasons.”
To learn more about online courses at Western, visit www.westerntc.edu/online-programs.