Why Online Courses?
Online teaching has become increasingly widespread at American universities. However, far from merely jumping on the bandwagon, we have given serious thought to the question of how the educational experiences we offer our students can be advanced by offering online sections of our courses. We see three arguments in favor of offering online sections:
- Online sections increase the array of options available to students, hence serving the needs of students who prefer this learning format or find it more convenient when they need to take a course during the summer.
- Opening up summer online sections for those students who prefer them could reduce enrollments (class sizes) in the classroom sections of these same courses offered during the academic year.
- Online courses, done properly, exploit web-based and multimedia tools that can be used to enrich the learning experience in classroom sections, thus leading to an overall improvement in the curriculum.
Regardless of delivery method (classroom or online), our paramount concern is to provide a learning experience that is scientifically rigorous and gives students opportunities for intellectual engagement.
The Department of Integrative Biology offers online sections for four of our core undergraduate courses: ZOL/IBIO/PLB 355 (Ecology), ZOL/IBIO/PLB 341 (Fundamental Genetics), ZOL/IBIO 402 (Neurobiology) and ZOL/IBIO 445 (Evolution).
These online courses are only available during the summer semester and they require biological science prerequisites. Non-MSU students must to apply to MSU through Lifelong Education to enroll in the course(s).
The department does not offer undergraduate degrees which are fully online or via satellite.
While more courses for the University requirements and electives are being offered online each semester, the bulk of the College of Natural Science and Integrative Biology Department courses are not online. In part this is because the material in upper level science classes, and especially lab courses, sometimes is difficult to convey effectively via that method of teaching. Another issue to consider is that, for some students, the material in science or math courses is relatively complex. For many students, one-to-one interactions with the professors and other students may be a more effective way to learn this type of material well.