By Mike Linn: CNJ News Editor
Summer enrollment at Clovis Community College reached an all-time high this year, likely due to an increasing number of students taking online classes.
There are 2,182 students taking courses this summer at CCC, up from a previous high of 2,112 students in the summer of 2000.
But the increase in credit hours for online courses makes that gap look minuscule. Enrollment of online students for fall and spring semesters are up almost 500 percent from five years ago when the online courses were first offered.
Enrollment figures for students taking only online courses this summer are not available, but David Caffey, CCC’s vice president for student effectiveness, believes the increase in online credit hours plays a factor in this summer’s record enrollment.
“This (increase in online students) is a very rapid curve. It’s a way a lot of people like to get their education and for some it’s the only way they can,” Caffey said.
For Clovis resident Tammy Schriefer, who took an online course at CCC about 18 months ago, there are good and bad sides to taking a course online.
The best aspect is convenience, she said.
A mother, Schriefer said being able to log into class when she wasn’t busy rather than at a certain time each week was a definite advantage.
But Schriefer said online classes are less personal, and communication with her teacher could be difficult.
“You have no interaction like you do in a classroom,” she said.
Clovis resident Janice Davis, a vocational rehabilitation counselor, is taking a federally mandated course called rehab counseling online through Texas Tech University.
She said for self-directed students, online courses are great.
Her class includes students in Florida, New York and California, which allows her to share ideas with people all over the country.
“That’s the neat part — you get to know all the things that are going on (in your field) and all the different ideas being thrown out there,” Davis said.
Furthermore, Davis said she can “go anywhere” and not miss class.
The drawback, she said, comes with group activities.
Communication, she said, is over 90 percent nonverbal, but “you don’t get that” with an online class, Davis said.
“That’s been the toughest for me,” she said.
Caffey said there are an array of reasons why more students are taking online courses, noting that students all over the state can take online courses at CCC.
For example, Caffey has a student from Farmington taking his online criminal justice course.
Online courses allow Caffey to respond to students on a one-on-one basis more frequently, he said, and allows students who may be shy in person to open up more on the computer.
“Instead of maybe one or two people participating in discussions, they all do,” Caffey said. “When it’s online, someone who happens to be quiet or shy has the same level of interaction as somebody who likes to talk a lot.”