Live Online courses provide Ozarks Technical Community College students with the best of online and in-person classes. The students enjoy the convenience of attending class from anywhere, but they are in class simultaneously with their instructor and fellow students
Dr. Trish White welcomes students to her calculus class at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday and dives right in with an equation.
“What would have to be true for the numerator and denominator to be greater than zero?” White asks.
The class is like any traditional math class, but only two students sit in front of White in the Ozarks Technical Community College classroom on the Richwood Valley campus. The rest of her students attend via videoconferencing technology from other OTC locations, some are in their homes, and one student appears to be in his car.
The calculus class is called a Live Online course, which students attend at a specific time of day, virtually or in person. Besides being convenient for students, Live Online courses aggregate enrollment across the OTC system, providing students with a wider variety of classes.
“Except for Springfield, I rarely had enough students interested in calculus to justify offering it at other campuses,” White said. “Now, my calculus students in rural areas don’t have to make a long drive to have a face-to-face experience with a math instructor.”
White, who also teaches mathematics online for OTC, says a traditional online math course is challenging because the students and instructor are never in the same “space” simultaneously.
“In an online course, you may be lost and think you’re the only one who isn’t getting it,” White said. “In the Live Online course, just like a traditional in-person course, we’re all working on the problems together.”
White also notes that when the students get to know her and each other, they are more likely to reach out for help.
“We are human, social creatures. We learn better together,” White said.
For 2021 Camdenton High School graduate Safina Ernst, the decision to take Live Online courses was financial. Safina took traditional online classes along with Live Online pre-calculus and calculus in the fall of 2021 and the spring of 2022. Rather than move to Springfield to attend OTC, she decided to live with her parents in Camdenton for her first year of college.
“In the Live Online course, I was more willing to do my homework and engage with my schoolwork than my (traditional)
online courses,” Safina said.
OTC alumna Victoria Fink also says she was more inclined to ask questions in her online classes with the “live meetup.”
Victoria’s first experience with Live Online was in the spring of 2020, when everything went online due to COVID-19. As the mother of five children in a blended family confined to their home due to the pandemic, she had to get creative when it was time for her calculus class.
“I would strategically time their naps for peace and quiet,” Victoria said. “Plus, if I had to run and pick up a kid from school or take one to the doctor, I could still have the lecture pulled up on my phone and listen.”
The classic image of a college course with young students all sitting in a classroom inside an ivy-covered building is now a rarity. Thanks to technology, students can attend classes from anywhere, and schools like OTC continue to innovate to offer students the best possible learning environment.
“Live Online has the potential to serve students who could not attend college due to childcare, lack of transportation or distance,” White said. “Live Online is a game-changer.”