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Distance education options rise during Summer Session

By : By Rachel Coker

Distance education is one of the buzzwords for this year’s Summer Session. Thirty courses are being offered online or partially online this summer, a 150 percent jump from the 12 courses offered last year.

“There’s a great deal of freedom for instructional design and for the student,” said Thomas Kowalik, director of Continuing Education & Outreach.

Some courses allow students to work at their own pace; other teachers post material as often as five times per week.

The distance education options include two “hybrid” courses in the Division of Human Development that bring students together in the classroom a few times but mostly take place online.

And the Graduate School is offering two new online courses focused on pedagogy. One is about instructional design; the other addresses fostering intellectual character.

“They’re aimed at people who want to teach community college,” Kowalik said.

Other distance education offerings range from a course on multicultural counseling to one on British literature. Many of those enrolled in distance education courses are Binghamton students at home for the summer. The advantage for them is that, unlike a course taken at a college in their hometown, there’s no need to transfer credits or do any paperwork to apply the course to their degree.

“It’s a much more efficient model for the students and for Binghamton,” Kowalik said.

As of June 1, summer enrollment stood at 1,968 students for 13,690 credit hours, a slight increase from the 1,923 students enrolled for 13,670 credit hours at the same time last year. That means Winter Session enrollment, which rose to 425 students this year, did not cut into summer enrollment at all. “I think what this tells us is we’re reaching into two different markets at this point,” said Murnal Abate, assistant director for summer and winter sessions.

Winter Session is ideal for those who plan to take summer internships or jobs, he said, while Summer Session continues to offer many students a chance to catch up or get ahead. Summer students can take as many as eight credits plus a physical education course in each of the two five-week sessions. “They could, in the summer, get an entire semester’s credits,” Kowalik said.

Among the most popular offerings are English Department courses, including one focusing on authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, Abate said.

Some 57 students are participating in 60 internships through Off Campus College this summer, said Tanya Robinson, assistant director of academic programs. That’s pretty similar to the past two summers, although more students are taking four-credit internships than in years past.

Students are interning at NBC, Universal Studios, MTV, BET, Merrill Lynch in New York City and Albany, New York City hospitals, an ophthalmology office and law firms. About a third of the students are in Broome County, including placements at Wilson Memorial Regional Medical Center, the public defender’s office and Lesko Financial Services.

“Students are really blending theory and practice,” Robinson noted.

The online academic aspect of the internship program requires them to consider the social and economic responsibilities employers have to their communities. Students also build critical thinking and analytical skills and write papers, she said. For more information Summer Session’s first term ends June 30. The second term runs from July 10-Aug. 11. Visit for more details about course offerings and schedules.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08