Summer course list to be released on March 14 – full report

Update (3/18/18): The list is tentatively set to be posted by the end of this upcoming week, according to Brian Reese, Registrar, pending the finalization of a few dates.

The Office of the Registrar will release a list of summer, distance-learning (blended/hybrid) courses on March 14 to the student body — including Education 199 (Social Foundations of Education), Philosophy 103 (Critical Thinking) and Psychology 214 (Social Psychology). Environmental Science 121 (Environmental Issues) and other courses could possibly dot this list beyond these initial three initial options, Jack Ryan, Vice Provost & Associate, said. Hybrid classes consist of online learning activities that replace direct face-to-face interaction.

The courses cost $750, span 5-8 weeks and equal around a total of 10 hours of class time. Three is the current limit for transferring credits from courses taken in high school and outside Gettysburg. These summer courses act as an alternative and do not count towards this limit of three. A student may only enroll in one summer course and must be eligible to return for the Fall 2018 semester.

**Scroll to next section if interested in learning about how Gettysburg College is attempting to save the Humanities discipline**

This string of upcoming summer courses follows summer 2017, which acted as one step in the pilot program for hybrid learning classes. During the summer 2017, Education 199, Philosophy 103 and Psychology 214 were the courses offered — and had 29 total students enrolled across the three courses (with the highest possible enrollment total being 36). 

These three courses were offered in the preceding spring semester to act as preparation for the summer 2017.

“Students said they were equal,” Vice Provost Ryan said when asked about student feedback between regular classes and hybrid classes. 

Summer, hybrid courses were first introduced as a possibility back in Dec. 2013 when a task force made a suggestion to consider these types of courses — one reason being to recoup lost revenue. 

The suggestion was endorsed in 2014 by the Faculty Council. And summer 2016 saw the formation of a new initiative called Sustainable Excellence with a working group, co-chaired by Prof. Tim Shannon and Ryan, being charged with creating a plan to better manage campus resources. The Faculty Council, President’s Council and President Janet Morgan Riggs supported the idea of summer, blended learning courses.

May 2016 was the first offering of summer courses by the college, but there was little preparation when planning began in March 2016. Low enrollment and assessment ended up being the result of this lack of preparation. These summer 2016 courses were Education 199 and Computer Science 103.

CIC Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction

“As we all know, the humanities, in and of itself, is under assault,” said Vice Provost Ryan. “Students are not taking those classes in the same numbers that they used to take those classes.”

As a result, Gettysburg College was accepted into the Consortium for Online Humanities Instruction Phase II as a part of the CIC (Counsel of Independent Colleges) in 2016 in order to experiment with online, hybrid classes — along with 21 other colleges and universities — as an attempt to revive the humanities discipline.

This present spring semester is the first time that these hybrid, humanities courses have been taught at Gettysburg — History 230 (The Native American–European Encounter in North America) taught by Prof. Shannon and Italian Studies 260 (Italian Culture: Bella Figura, Sprezzatura, La Chiesa and a Whole Lot More) taught by Prof. Alan Perry.

“These are courses that are not being offered at [your] home institutions,” said Vice Provost Ryan. “Then, you can just go down the checklist [of reasons students may want to take these courses]: convenience and a different pedagogical approach. Whether it’s true or not, the suggestion is that this is an environment that [this generation of students] are comfortable in.”

The CIC is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York City. These blended learning classes involve cameras and television monitors — using Zoom, which is high definition and better than Skype, according to Ryan. The CIC classes can communicate with their peers at other institutions — and for other institutions that have a conflict with the class time, they can view a recording.

Students also can take these courses to satisfy a major or curricular requirement, Brian Reese, Registrar, said. These hybrid courses can be taken by any student from Gettysburg or any students enrolled at the 21 other schools in the consortium group.

The development of these hybrid classes took place through 2016 and 2017 — and both History 230 and Italian Studies 260 were offered regularly as non-hybrid courses, so the content had already been produced before the development.

Through a review by Ithaca SNR and summarized by Ryan, one of the big findings was that the students don’t see any distinction from the two learning environments: online and normal face-to-face. Faculty thought that there was a loss of connection, but students said the opposite when they got to meet all different types of people through these courses.

These courses are for credit courses and transfer 1:1 with one of the concerns voiced during a past Faculty Meeting — that a lot of students rely on semesters with five courses in order to graduate early — or graduate in eight semesters. Reese had some insight as to why there would be some concern.

“My concern is that they are taking more semesters of five than they are doing summer classes to graduate early. Because what happens is now, students are coming in with AP credit or dual enrollment credit from high school. After taking one semester as a first-year, they may already have 10 credits.

I don’t see too much of a concern from an academic standpoint. There are students who struggle with five courses in a semester. We have to look at this, and the Academic Standing Committee shows concern if a student’s overall GPA is low, or the previous semester showed signs of struggle with only four courses. And some folks will say if they’re graduating early than [Gettysburg College] is loosing revenue. But I haven’t talked to Financials yet.”

Ryan did not commit to these hybrid classes being offered after this semester as there are a number of factors moving forward that will be considered before a decision is made: Is there student enthusiasm? Is there faculty enthusiasm? If those two components exist, how do we build up a cohort of people who can help their colleagues? Is it manageable with the resources present? Will the student demand for summer classes increase when offered as an online course?


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