Online class programs in the works for FAMU

The infrastructure for online courses at Florida A&M is in the process of improvement.
Franzetta Fitz, director of the office of instructional technology, said the first and most important step FAMU has taken toward the development of online courses is to ensure a strong and reliable infrastructure.

 Fitz said with the support of the Division of Academic Affairs and the Title III Program, the Office of Instructional Technology is in the process of upgrading its Learning Management System in order to develop an efficient distance-learning program.

“A very important component of this initiative includes a reliable infrastructure,” Fitz said. “The Enterprise Information Technology office is working very diligently with OIT in an effort to produce the most robust system to support our online program.”

Recently, OIT has expanded its staff by hiring a new instructional designer who will assist faculty with the development of their prospective curriculum online.

“In an effort to produce the very best online programs, faculty members who teach students online will complete a training program in order to ensure that the technology is seamless between them and the collaboration with the students,” Fitz said.

 Britney Cook, 20, a third-year criminal justice and pre-law student from Jacksonville said she likes taking classes online and seeing it coming to FAMU would be a great idea.

“I think there should be an option,” Cook said. “There should be an online [class] or you can go to the classroom physically and sit down and watch the teacher. You should have the option not just one or the other.”

 Last spring, Cook took an online class for a business reporting course.

 “You don’t have to attend the class physically,” Cook said. “You don’t have to be in class at all.”

 Cook also said she liked the convenience.  Classes can be planned around your schedule and the time frame for due assignments are lenient.

However, Cook points out the cons of the classes, such as not having one-on-one with your teacher when you have questions or concerns.

“She’s not there so you have to email her or call her,” Cook said.

Fitz said OIT is working with the deans and faculty in an effort to identify the academic programs that are highly requested by online learners.

 “With the support of our competent leadership team, in conjunction with our hard working students, faculty and staff, I am confident that FAMU will again be the number one producer of African- American baccalaureate degrees,” Fitz said.

 On the other hand, Keishana Grant, 19, a second year pre-elementary education student from Tallahassee said she has not taken any online classes because the majority of the courses are offered on campus.

“The only time I would do an online course is if I couldn’t get in at school or in a classroom,” Grant said. “I’m a really interactive person I don’t care to sit in front of a computer.”

Unlike Fitz and Cook, Grant does not think having online courses will make FAMU number one again in producing degrees for blacks.

“It really has more to do with the students wanting a degree,” Grant said.

Grant said the students make the school and if they do not want to learn or care about their academics, it brings the school down.

“During the time FAMU was number one it was because a lot of students were college ready,” she said, “They wanted to get their degree. Now they just come to college and waste time. They’re not serious about getting their degree on time.”

Nevertheless, Fitz is confident in the work the Public Relations Office is doing to attract students to online work.

“Our recruiting efforts will attract students in a manner of which to ensure them that Florida A&M University is definitely their online connection to excellence with caring,” Fitz said.