Online course offerings through the Iowa Valley Community College District have continued to expand through the years.
The college district, which includes Marshalltown Community College, Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls and Iowa Valley Grinnell, started by offering one online class in 1998. Currently, Iowa Valley offers 70 courses online and some Associate of Arts degrees can be attained online.
"We've had some students who completed their entire A.A. degree online," said Chris Russell, dean of students at MCC, during a presentation to the Iowa Valley board Wednesday.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Marshalltown Community College student Morgan Smith looks over materials for one of her online courses at the college Wednesday.
Total students enrolled in online classes for the entire Iowa Valley district went from 1,149 in the fall of 2011 to 1,244 in 2012.
One of the main objectives of the online courses is to create classes that are just as engaging as classroom courses.
"The big focus is student engagement," said Kelly Faga, dean of students at Ellsworth.
MCC sophomore Morgan Smith, of Newton, likes the convenience of online learning. She is a full-time nursing student and prefers to take her non-nursing classes online.
"It allows me to work ahead or do it at my own pace," Smith said. "It's very convenient."
Iowa Valley's online courses draw students from all over Iowa and even several other states. English Professor PJ Colbert said she even has had Iowa State University students from China enrolled online.
The next regular meeting of the college board is at 4 p.m. Jan. 9 at college district offices in Marshalltown.