Augustana Summer College Enrollment on the Rise

Augustana College today announced a 30 percent increase in its Summer College enrollment since 2008. This year, 558 students are enrolled in summer classes, up from 430 students two years ago.

Aaron Sherman, Sioux Falls, is a senior Business Administration major at Augustana and is currently enrolled in Management and Leadership of Non-profit Organizations, a four week-long, three-credit online course taught by Shelly Gardner, an assistant professor of Business Administration.

For Sherman, 21, the chance to complete coursework over the summer was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.

“During the summer, I can work full time because of the flexibility of the class schedule. Plus, I can connect to the class wherever there’s an internet connection. My first week of class, I was out of town. But, I could [still] work on my materials and stay connected,” Sherman said.

For 2010, Augustana offered 54 courses during its two summer sessions; 37 of those were offered online. Each online course is capped at 12 students.

“We cap our online classes at 12 students because we absolutely want to maintain the highest possible student-to-faculty interaction,” said Mark Braun, vice president for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College. This summer, 322 students are participating in online classes, up from 140 students in summer 2008.

Gardner, who is teaching two online classes this summer, uses an online discussion board to create virtual conversations among her students. The level of student input, according to Gardner, is impressive.

“Online, our discussion topics and our conversations about reading material tend to be deeper,” she said. “In an online discussion, students have a chance to read the question, think about it, develop thoughts and then post a response. In a traditional classroom setting, sometimes students are hesitant to raise their hands, hesitant to ask questions. This type of forum forces every student to get involved.”

The amount of writing involved in an online class also helps develop communication skills, Gardner said.

“Summer classes are just as rigorous as fall or spring semester classes. In my Principals of Management class, I require a 15 to 20-page term paper from each of my students, regardless of whether they choose the online or classroom version of the class,” she said. “My online students have to participate completely in writing, so it really improves their communications skills – they get daily feedback on grammar, business writing and style.”

Even though they’re conducted online, Gardner says the small class sizes allow her to get to know her students.

“In any online class I teach, my first online discussion topic is introductions – students have to post a lengthy bio and post their photo. It helps the student and I develop a real rapport and allows our relationship to be absolutely one-on-one. Students have my cell phone number; I answer emails within 24 hours; I even have conversations with students over Skype.”

Kelly Sprecher
Director of Communications & Media Relations