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University to offer classes during break

For some Binghamton University students, winter break will be filled with textbooks and tests.

The University’s first Winter Session will offer 17 undergraduate and one graduate course, as well as two internship programs over the holiday break. Registration began on Monday for the pilot program, which runs from Jan. 3 through 21.

The pilot is groundbreaking for Binghamton. “We’re excited because it’s taken us awhile to make this happen,” said Tom Kowalik, director of Continuing Education & Outreach. “It’s going to meet a need, and without any formal advertising, we’ve already had lots of inquiries. We’re hopeful for this to be a successful experiment so we can make it part of our permanent mix of offerings for the campus.”

The compressed schedule over the holiday break won’t work for all courses, but the demand is definitely there according to Murnal Abate, coordinator of Continuing Education and Outreach. “We received more proposals for courses than we’re able to offer,” he said. “We hope to expand in future years to all departments and schools. Right now, we want to fill the seats at a level that is pedagogically sound.”

Working through the many details to establish the pilot has “been challenging, but rewarding,” Abate said. “Any time you can build a program to benefit students, there’s motivation for driving ahead.”

Of the courses being offered, five will be through distance education using Blackboard.

“Students can take them from anywhere,” Abate said, who will be teaching one of the distance education courses. “You just need to spend time communicating with students through e-mail and chat rooms. It’s a different way of trying to spread knowledge, and it’s a neat way to teach.”

Distance education is also something that students seem to be comfortable with, Abate said.

“We live in a very complex world and students do so many things. This method of instruction can be a benefit to them. There’s a place in education for Internet-based instruction,” he said.

Registration for the pilot will be similar to registration for Summer Session, Abate said. In fact, much of the program is based on the Summer Session model. “It’s a simplified process,” he said. “We’re using a single form, and it’s available on the Web. We’ll also disperse hard copies on campus.

“We need to learn from this pilot and make it better in subsequent years,” Abate said. “But there are so many benefits to it. Lots of departments and people came together to build this pilot and we can assure Binghamton quality throughout in a way that is pedagogically sound. The benefit aspect is very important to the University, the students and the faculty.”

Complete information about Winter Session is available at
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Last Updated: 10/14/08