How to Pick the Perfect Class

Ravenna Hinojosa

The time to pick classes for the spring semester is here, and it can be difficult to choose the right course. For those who are struggling with their schedule, this guide is here to help.

Courses are delivered in three main formats, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Face-to-face courses are the most traditional, with the teacher providing instruction while physically in the room with the students. According to the CAC website, Face-to-face courses are characterized by how long the teacher interacts with the students in the same physical space, which should be 75% or more of the instructional time. The teacher is available to answer any questions as they are asked, and to provide instruction in person.

Another format is the Face-to-face/Online hybrid. For this, the teacher is in the classroom providing instruction for less than 75% of the instructional time. The rest of teaching happens through coursework assigned and completed online.

The next course format is Video Conference, formerly known as Interactive Television or ITV. Video Conference courses take place in specially designed Distance Learning (DL) classrooms and involve interactive broadcast among multiple campuses. You may be taking the class in Aravaipa while your classmates are in San Tan and your instructor is on Maricopa campus and appears to you on the screen.  Homework and other assignments are completed online, and a computer is required.

Video Conference courses run entirely by internet and are subject to interruption due to lost signal. However, they give students more class choices at every location and are a great way to interact with students from other campuses.

Finally, online courses are completed offsite. All coursework and instruction are assigned and completed online, through Blackboard, Pearson, or other course management sites. Some online classes are synchronous, which means there are specific times to log into the course module and turn in homework. Others are labeled as asynchronous, where work is assigned all at once and given a specific time period (typically a week) before it must be turned in. Asynchronous classes only require the student to log in two or three times throughout the week.

Online courses are perfect for busy students, as they allow for more flexibility. However, the student must have technical knowledge as well as the motivation to log in and continue to turn in work. It can be very easy to miss assignments if there is no set meeting time. Consider taking online classes in subjects that truly interest you as your passion will help you stay motivated.

If you are still confused, CAC Academic Advisor Mark Ebert offers this advice, “Almost all CAC classes have an online component. If you are hesitant about trying a fully online course, take one face-to-face. If you are comfortable using online tools, then try one that is fully online.” However, he cautions students to be aware of the common misconception of online classes. “Online classes are not self-paced,” says Mark, “Assignments must be submitted electronically on or before indicated deadlines.”

Spring semester registration begins on October 7th and ends on January 12th. Classes do fill up quickly so register soon. Registration can be done online within the CAC student portal, with academic advisors, and at the registration desk.