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Winter Session returns with expanded academic menu

Winter Session, set for Jan. 3-20, will nearly double its course offerings from last year, building on a successful inaugural program.

This year’s course listings feature 12 in a traditional classroom format and another 13 distance-education offerings. Last year, a total of 14 courses were offered and 10 were actually taught to about 300 students.

“We really are expanding winter session across the playing field of the University,” said Murnal Abate, assistant director for summer and winter sessions.

Courses will include introductory offerings such as General Psychology as well as 400-level classes such as Global Strategic Management. Last year’s most popular offering — Professional Writing — is also back on the list.

The three-week format works well for several reasons, said Abate and Thomas Kowalik, director of Continuing Education & Outreach:
• Students can fulfill requirements during the session and free up time in the regular academic year for internships and study abroad.
• It’s a way for departments to meet demand for pop-ular courses.
• Students might catch up on credits they need to be able to graduate on time.

“Students are looking for year-round opportunities,” Kowalik said. “We’re trying to serve both our regular students and bring in more people to experience the Binghamton campus.”

Winter Session’s three-week format does pose some challenges for faculty and students alike. Classes must be more interactive and less lecture-driven, and faculty members found they needed to incorporate technology such as Blackboard in different ways.

But Continuing Education & Outreach surveyed participants in last year’s Winter Session and found there was more “contact time” for students and in-structors because there were no interruptions in the schedule. Classes meet for 21/2 hours five days a week.

Attendance was better than normal, too, Kowalik noted. “Because it was so fast-paced, students realized they couldn’t miss any time,” he said. “There were some unexpected benefits to the schedule.”

Indeed, some students learn better if they can immerse themselves deeply in one topic rather than try to master four subjects at once. “As a state institution we are obliged to provide a variety of learning experiences,” Kowalik said. “Learning can occur in a lot of different ways.”

He and Abate — who serves as an instructor for Winter Session — have high hopes for the new program. Eventually, they said, 75 to 80 percent of the January courses might be distance-education offerings.

How will they present that to students? “Take BU home for break,” Kowalik said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08