High school students earning BGSU credit from a distance

A group of 54 high school students from northwest Ohio are the newest members of the BGSU community, though their relationship will be mainly long distance.

The high-achieving juniors and seniors—they have an average grade point average of 3.8—are gaining college credit this summer by taking BGSU science courses online. The free classes are co-taught by BGSU faculty and area high school teachers and are funded through a $225,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Education to cover fees, tuition and books.

The collaborative Post Secondary On-Line Corridor program is coordinated by Dr. Julia Matuga, associate dean of graduate studies and external programs in the College of Education and Human Development, and Charlene Butler of the Wood County Educational Service Center (ESC).

The three courses offered this summer and their BGSU faculty are Life in the Sea, taught by Dr. Matthew Partin, biological sciences; Weather and Climate, taught by Dr. Arthur Samel, chair of the geography department, and Introduction to Environmental Studies, taught by Megan Hughes, Environmental Programs.

With the help of BGSU’s Interactive Distance Education for All Learners (IDEAL), the University courses were redesigned to ensure that National Education Association guidelines for online high school courses were met.

“It’s as intensive as a college course, and the content is the same,” Hughes said. “But we are supporting them differently than if they were actually undergraduates.”

Matuga, whose research specialty is in learning how students learn online, said, “Having the BGSU faculty, who are experts in the content matter, work together with the high school teachers, who know and understand high school students, will help make the classes a success and ensure the students get the individual attention they need.

“A six-week college course is very intensive, and we’re trying to make sure we give them as many support systems as we can. We’re trying to make sure they have a good time and learn, too.”

The class began June 16 when the students came to BGSU. They attended workshops on online learning and teaching strategies and using Blackboard, along with two course meetings and a campus tour.

“It’s important that they get to meet their classmates and form study groups so they’re comfortable asking one another questions when they’re back at home,” Hughes said.

Attending the luncheon on Saturday were Dr. Josué Cruz, dean of the College of Education and Human Development; Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Doug Garman, superintendent of the Wood County ESC, and representatives from the BGSU Honors Program.

The classes will meet in person again for a wrap-up session on July 30.

The online course is another way the University is reaching out to enhance science education in the region, Matuga said. “There are so many opportunities on campus this summer for high school students in the sciences,” she said. “Having all these opportunities for northwest Ohio is fabulous.”

June 18, 2007