Northern Essex Community College (Haverhill and Lawrence) will expand its course options this fall, offering more opportunities for virtual and on-campus face-time between students and their professors based on feedback from students and faculty.
In the fall of 2021, students will have four types of courses to choose from: online courses without required online meetings; online courses with required online meetings; hybrid courses, combining in-person socially-distanced classroom meetings with online work; as well as on campus, socially-distanced, face-to-face courses.
In the fall of 2020 and spring of 2021, Northern Essex offered 90% of courses online without required online meetings and 10% face-to-face.
“The goal is to give students more options that include scheduled time with their instructors,” said Bill Heineman, college provost. “We found many students liked the flexibility of online learning but wanted the accountability that required meetings could bring.”
The college surveyed students late last fall and faculty and staff in the same time frame to determine how the changes related to COVID-19 were impacting teaching and learning.
When asked what kind of online course they preferred, students responded with a 43% preference for online courses without required online meetings; a 14% preference for online courses with required online meetings; and a 43% preference for a mixture of the two.
Kelly Saretsky, dean of strategic planning and institutional research, said the many comments shared in the survey helped the college understand what students were experiencing.
“Some loved online courses because it was easier to coordinate college, work and personal commitments,” she said. “But what resonated, in both the faculty and staff and student surveys, was the need for more virtual face time with their instructors. Students feel more connected with their instructors when they have the opportunity for face-to-face interaction.”
The college also found some students would benefit from actual facetime on campus, said Saretsky, which is why the college will provide hybrid courses in the fall of 2021.
In early April when students begin registering for fall 2021 classes, the class schedule will include an icon showing how the course will be delivered. That will give students the opportunity to choose their preferred modality.
Lane Glenn, Northern Essex president, said the college is committed to bringing back face-to-face courses, and will consider expanding these options as it becomes safe to do so. “We know that many students do better in a traditional classroom, and, if it’s safe and the demand is there, we will be open to expanding these options in the fall.”
Also new this fall, returning students will be able to register themselves, using the one-click navigation tool available through Navigate, the college’s student app. In the past, most students were required to meet with an academic advisor and fill out a paper form to register for courses, a process which could create long lines on the day of registration.
The fall 2021 semester begins Sept. 8.
To learn about Northern Essex programs and courses, visit the website, www.necc.mass.edu or contact admissions by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Or call 978-556-3700.
To access Navigate the college’s student app visit the website: https://www.necc.mass.edu/current-students/student-resources/navigate/