Winter online courses offer three units in four weeks

By Michael Santone, Associate Editor

A four-week online cybersession will be offered to Contra Costa College students beginning Dec. 11 and ending Jan. 10.

Meeting core general education requirements, the seven courses include Introduction to Probability and Statistics, Appreciation of Art, Interpersonal Communication, Introduction to Theater, Law and Democracy, Education for Healthful Living and Introduction to Ethics.

With an increase in popularity and demand since the 2016 winter cybersession, all courses have a waitlist except Law and Democracy.

“The cybersession is an extension of the fall semester and not a true winter intersession,” Senior Dean of Instruction Tish Young said. “Faculty and staff knew we were moving to a compressed calendar (in fall 2018) so this is like a foot in the door.”

Encompassing winter recess, the cybersession will end just a week shy of the commencement of the 2018 spring semester.

Faculty who are experienced with teaching online courses and willing to spend their winter break on campus were sought out Young said.

“These faculty members were given the opportunity to submit a course. We didn’t want to offer too many options,” she said. “This didn’t drive what classes to offer and since we had success last year, we followed similar schedule and course offerings.”

The winter cybersession is more compact than that of a fall or spring semester and even shorter than a summer session which runs about five weeks.

“The cybersession is four times faster in four weeks,” Young said. “These courses are designed for students to focus on just one class.”

With such a positive response to the courses offered during the 2016 winter cybersession, faculty stuck with diverse class selections that still focused on core general education requirements.

In 2016, one course, however, did not respond well and suffered from a lack of enrollment. Young said that the department was given the option to submit a different course, which may yield a higher enrollment.

“The cybersession last year was successful and had success rates similar to that of a full term class.”

Counseling department Chairperson Sarah Boland said faculty and staff undergo tons of training that prepares them for teaching online courses.

“We had a training once a month for a semester back in 2014 where three of the professors teaching in the cybersession were involved,” Boland said. “We aren’t just jumping right in. There is some preparation that goes into planning a cybersession.”

Courses offered over winter break can be difficult to fill because of the personal and social aspects of the holiday, Boland said. “They are going fast. All but one is waitlisted,” she said. “I would tell students to put themselves on the waitlist.

We find that even with the summer sessions, the waitlist moves more quickly because of the time of the year.”

Boland said she encourages students to take the needed “brain break” that the winter break offers, but she also informs them on what to expect with a cybersession and how it can benefit them.

“I think students see it as a really great way to complete transfer units,” she said. “It allows them to do it in a time that works for them.”

Contra Costa College biology major Luis Gonzalez said he is looking to satisfy his Math 164 (Introduction to Probability and Statistics) transfer requirement that is offered during the cybersession.

“I want to get it over with and since it’s online I don’t have to come to school,” he said. “However, I am worried that if I take it I will miss out on my winter break.”

Gonzalez said that the compressed format can be intense, but it’s similar to the summer session.