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Online classes grow in popularity, offer increasing distance learning opportunities for students

For immediate release
June 14, 2005

Abilene Christian University's second summer of online courses continues to increase in popularity and selection to meet the needs of distance learning. The current enrollment of 308 students more than doubles last year's enrollment of 136, and more than twice as many course options are available.

Last year two courses, Message of the Old Testament and Major British Writers I, were offered through ten sections.  This year two additional classes, Business and Professional Writing and Fundamentals of Communication were added for a total of four classes offered in 22 sections during three summer terms.  Summer 1 runs from May 31-June 30, Summer 2 from July 5-August 4 and the Full Summer term runs from May 31-August 4. 

The increase in enrollment shows that students are interested in online instruction, said Dr. Gary Tucker, Director of Distance Education.

"Summer Online courses have students from all over the map doing ACU coursework 24/7," Tucker said.  "The students come in not really knowing exactly what to expect, but they know they want an online course, and what they find are online courses that are engaging, interesting, cutting edge and extremely available."

Online courses are given in different formats but are based on group discussion and virtual student interaction. 

"It may seem surprising, but in many ways there is a higher level of engagement with the students online, peer-to-peer, as well as with the faculty," Tucker said. "The online environment overcomes many of the traditional problems one sees in the classroom.  Shy students or students who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally may become overridden in the conventional classroom, but in an online forum students have the chance to respond thoughtfully, at their own pace and in their own time.  It is really a different and exhilarating environment."

For more information on ACU's Summer Online program, contact the Office of Distance Education in the Adams Center for Teaching Excellence at 325-674-2940 or visit www.acu.edu/summeronline.

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