Newspaper article The Florida Times Union
Students Study Course On-Line Hook Up Modem, Dial Up FCCJ for Sociology
It's 6:30 a.m. and Sharon Horton has a few minutes to herself.
Her husband just left for work and her four children, all under
the age of five, are still tucked snugly into their beds.
So she heads off to sociology class -- without leaving her home
in Jacksonville's Marietta section, without hiring a
baby-sitter. She simply flips on her computer, dials into the
Florida Community College at Jacksonville computer and starts
reading the week's lecture.
Horton is one of 19 students enrolled in Professor Bill
Nes-Smith's Introduction to Sociology course taught entirely via
computer, the first online class offered at FCCJ.
"It's hard for me to go to class all the time," said Horton, 25,
who has another baby -- maybe two -- on the way.
NesSmith's course allows her that needed flexibility as she
pushes toward her degree.
"I can do it on my own time," she said. "If I want to do it at
5 o'clock in the morning, I can."
The idea of an online course had been in the back of NesSmith's
mind for a few years. He heard about similar classes in other
parts of the country and the world, about different ways to
apply the new technology to education.
With FCCJ's non-traditional student population, this course is a
natural fit. Many FCCJ students have full-time jobs or have
young children at home and don't have time to travel to
regularly scheduled classes.
On Monday mornings, instead of standing before a lectern in a
sterile classroom at FCCJ's North campus, NesSmith can sit
behind his Macintosh computer, in a comfortable chair atop a
deep-red Oriental rug and hardwood floor. From there, he
teaches students he has never seen and may never see.
There are no tests in this class, just work turned in
Sociology isn't the only thing they learn. Improved computer
knowledge is a byproduct.
The course uses an electronic bulletin board, which is similar
to its paper-and-tacks counterpart. …