by Andrea Iseman
Published: April 3, 2008
Humber’s new part-time chef program for ministry certified tradespeople is part of a growing trend of more courses and programs being offered online, said Ruth Hickey, manager of the Open Learning Centre at the college.
“The numbers are increasing about 20 per cent every year,” said Hickey.
This term there are about 4,000 students in over 200 courses, which is the most students that have ever been enrolled online, she said.
“No one wants to travel in the winter,” she said. “If I can stay home with my coffee and PJs, and do my course, it is better than bundling up in my toque and mitts waiting at a bus stop.”
When Hickey first started in 2002, she said there were only 15 courses online, all in the school of liberal arts and science. Now, there are over 45 programs fully online, in most schools at Humber.
“One-third of my students are working full-time,” said Lisa Bering an online teacher in business and recruitment. “Students who are organized, new moms, and shift workers absolutely love [online] for its convenience.”
But Bering said some students come into her classes with misconceptions, thinking online is easier than in-class, and are sadly mistaken.
“There is a lot of reading,” she said. “If you don’t buy your Christmas presents early, you won’t like online.”
And as a teacher, Bering said she loves teaching online, because she can give as much value-added instruction as she wants, through e-mail and chat rooms, but admits she misses the face-to-face contact.
Anthony Imola, 30, a student in one of Bering’s classes, said he misses the interaction with fellow students but enjoys that he can learn outside of the typical classroom, something that is useful in the real world.
“Online discussions allow you to be in constant contact with students and the teacher,” he said, “and allow you to build a different relationship, one which is built on trust.”
As well, students from all over the province, country and even continent can get qualifications that might not be available to them in their hometown, said Anna Kulinski, co-ordinator of the travel and tourism management program.
“I have students from Newfoundland, Manitoba and Hawaii,” she said. “They love that they can work at their own place without time or financial pressures.”