GCC Brings New Focus to Online Classes

Marlon Miranda, Staff Writer

Online courses have blown into the academic consciousness as higher education is leaning more on technology. GCC is preparing to take the steps needed to become a more cyber efficient campus.

Fabiola Torres started her career with Glendale as an ethnic studies instructor, but now, as the distant education coordinator she is spearheading GCC into a new age of education — an age full of Moodle,Twitter and Interquette (internet etiquette).

According to a poll conducted by the Academic Affairs Division, the average enrollment in traditional education classes grew by 1.1 percent in the past five years. Distant education, such as onlined classes, increased by 15.48 percent.

Connie Lantz, an instructor support specialist, has seen the Vaquero cyber community grow in recent years. She noticed how students are flooding into online classes and has gotten so popular that GCC now has a 24/7 Moodle help-line.

“Online classes have become very popular and the helpline is great. I can’t be in my office all the time,” Lantz said. “When students can’t remember their password or have trouble logging on, they can call the helpline.”

Online classes have taken off in the last five years. Most students feel more comfortable in their own surroundings. The poll conducted by the state listed 37.6 percent of students prefered online classes over traditional classes because of work- related issues.

Before her arrival, GCC didn’t have a distant education coordinator.Torres became distant education coordinator in September and she is taking all measures necessary to make sure GCC keeps up with the cyber takeover.

“Other campuses had an early start and felt the struggles we [GCC] are feeling now,” said Torres. “We barely started last September, we have done more since September than any other campus in the state.”

She feels that there has to be a medium between the institution and students to have the GCC cyber universe take off. Students need to have better time management and faculty need to learn new ways of teaching, according to Torres.

“The institution has to do a better job filtering who gets into classes,” said Torres. “Faculty need to be retrained to provide a learning environment that is successful in an online world. We need to redesign and reinvent ourselves.”

Juan Garcia has been at GCC for two semesters. His first year he struggled and had bad grades. His grades picked up last semester as he took a couple of online classes. Garcia said he had an easier transition balancing classes and work online than he did on campus.

“I have two jobs, both my schedules are never the same, because of that I missed a lot of classes my first year,” said Garcia. “ Online I had a chance to study on my own time without having to be here [GCC] every tuesday. Might not be the best for everyone but it worked for me”.

Torres is setting the bar and trying to achieve a higher cyber standard by setting up what she refers to as interquette (Internet-etiquette). She is networking with other campuses and coordinators to make GCC a more cyber efficient school. Coordinators from universities to community colleges from the state are aiding each other and raising the standard of distant education.

“I would love if Glendale stopped all distant education for one semester, so we have time to redesign and redevelop, revamp our entire program,” said Torres. “We can campaign and come back stronger and have have double the size of online classes that are taught effectively.”

The student satisfaction survey done by the state states that GCC has good reviews but Torres feels they can be better. She feels like nothing is impossible; with creativity and passion she feels there can always be a solution.