NORMAL — Illinois State University's first “winter session” of seven short-term classes was successful and is likely to be repeated, according to the administrator who oversaw the pilot project.
“The classes filled real well. It far exceeded our expectations,” said Danielle Lindsey, director of academic services and associate director of summer session.
A total of 185 students, including eight graduate students, took part in the courses, one of which was a graduate-level nursing course. Six courses were taught online, and the other was a hybrid course, taught partially online, that also involved students in live sports production, explained Lindsey.
Winter sessions offered during the break between traditional fall and spring semesters have been around for a while at other schools, but this was a first for ISU, according to Lindsey.
The idea had been under discussion, but the university decided to move forward after representatives of the Student Government Association approached the provost's office asking for winter classes, she said.
Summer courses are four, six or eight weeks long. The winter courses were four weeks long.
For the pilot project, officials chose courses that had already been offered in a condensed format in summer session, she said. They also looked for classes that were in high demand, she added.
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“We're pretty sure we'll do it again,” said Lindsey. The question is how much it will grow, she said.
“We want to take baby steps. We want to make sure we do it right,” said Lindsey.
University officials are surveying students who participated and talking to faculty and staff who were involved. They want to see how well it worked and ensure it doesn't have a negative impact on student progress.
Lindsey said she was not aware of any problems.
The winter session courses give students an opportunity to get ahead or stay on track, she said.
Students need to be motivated to complete the course during a time when there could be many things competing for their attention because of the holidays, she said.
“It's not for students looking for a quick fix,” said Lindsey.
Follow Lenore Sobota on Twitter: @pg_sobota