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Distance Learning

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With increasingly busy lives, rising costs of education and skyrocketing gas prices, more and more college students are cutting costs by earning course credits online. Take Chaminade University enrollment numbers. Chaminade’s evening and online undergraduate program enrollment has increased 42 percent from 2002 to 2007, and enrollment in its online masters of education classes has shot up 125 percent in the past four years.

The University of Hawaii’s Distance Education Classes have experienced similar boosts. In the summer of 2005, 1,769 students registered for online courses. That number more than doubled in summer 2007 to 4,066.

“These days, convenience is the name of the game,” says Skip Lee, director of undergraduate evening and online courses at Chaminade University.

Students enrolled in Chaminade’s online courses pay $51 more than traditional classes because of an added technology fee, but of course, save on the time and costs of commuting. Lee adds that while it might be counterintuitive, online courses can require more participation. “Students can no longer hide out in the back of the room and not be called on,” Lee says. “With online courses, everyone must contribute during discussions and complete chapter assignments.”

About 50 percent of Chaminade’s online students are in the military. Lee says about 15 percent of them do not even reside on Oahu, and some are currently serving in the Middle East. Other than a proctored final exam, undergraduate online courses require no classroom presence. “For people who are off-island, we help set up proctored exams for them wherever they are so they can benefit from our courses,” Lee says.

Kammie Wilson, who is taking an online religion course, says as a single mother of two children in Pearl City, it’s definitely all about the convenience. “It saves me the commute and it’s hard to find a sitter, so this works out for me,” says Wilson.

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Hawaii Business,October