Online courses on the rise

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CourseMatch and Cal State Online make key courses more readily available and allow students to complete entire degrees online from anywhere in the state. Photo illustration by Katie Eleneke / The Collegian

As students struggle to gain admission into crowded universities and compete for class seats each semester, emerging programs CourseMatch and Cal State Online offer new opportunities through online education.

CourseMatch, introduced this semester, is an online program that enables students to enroll in selective courses offered at other universities in the California State University system.

“To help meet the demand, CSU campuses have instituted a number of innovations, including the CourseMatch program, that make key courses available to any student and free up seats for additional students,” said Ephraim P. Smith, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer.

With 44 lower and upper division classes currently available through 15 of the CSU campuses, students can earn units away from their “home” campus. The numerous classes cover a range of subjects, varying from music and art to biology and math.

Elizabeth Chapin, a CSU administrative coordinator, emphasized the basic benefit of CourseMatch “is to keep students on track and graduate on time.”

Such technology advances provide openings for students to seek class entry elsewhere, such as in general education classes, which tend to fill up faster.

In addition to CourseMatch, CSU is also offering Cal State Online, now in its second year. It allows Californians to complete entire degrees and qualifications online from anywhere in the state.

Lynnette Zelezny, dean and associate vice president for Continuing and Global Education, has high hopes the program will provide increased access to higher education for students who are otherwise denied admission.

“There was concern in the state, and I think that continues, that we don’t have enough seats for all those who qualify,” Zelezny said.

Serving as Fresno State’s liaison for Cal State Online, Zelezny described the idea as a way for “students to receive quality education in California and to use the opportunities with regards to expertise across the system.”

But Cal State Online is not just offered to those entering coursework for the first time. A feature of the program is ‘Cal State Reconnect,’ which is geared toward previous CSU students who suspended their studies. The aim is for older, returning students to complete their qualifications online as working adults.

There are currently four bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and one general education course available through “Cal State Online,” offered through Dominguez Hills, Fullerton, Monterey Bay and Humboldt State, respectively.

Fresno State originally proposed introducing a Master of Business Administration and a certificate program in Homeland Security into the wider system. Plans have since been withdrawn.

“While Fresno State very much likes the concept of Cal State Online, we offer our own online programs very successfully,” Zelezny said.

She said Fresno State adequately reaches out to Fresno’s neighboring counties, yet said if the program was to grow into a national market there could be increased interest. A total of 187 online classes were available at Fresno State in 2013, almost all through this outlet.

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