The undergraduate distance learning program at Virginia Tech continues to increase in popularity among students since its start in 1998 as it offers schedule flexibility and accessibility, while also providing a variety of courses to fulfill requirements or electives.  

Virginia Tech Online serves as a portal to students taking online courses at Virginia Tech by constantly researching new, highly demanded courses to benefit undergraduate students. One such course is the online human anatomy and physiology lecture and laboratory made available to students for the first time during the 2011 summer semester. This course is innovative as it is the first online lecture to also offer a corresponding online laboratory at a distance with the use of lab kids instead of a traditional laboratory held in a physical location to afford greater convenience to students at a distance.

Theresa Gillian, human anatomy and physiology professor and who taught the online course, says she was very pleased at the success of the first semester of this course, “The students performed beyond my expectations, learning difficult material in a short amount of time.” Students’ scores from the proctored tests revealed a slightly higher-than-average score compared to fall semester students. Gillian attributes the higher test averages to the rapid pace of the course in which students are thoroughly immersed in the material.

While the initial set-up of the new, online lecture and laboratory was difficult, Gillian says she found the experience to be rewarding as the enrollment was excellent with student demand exceeding course capacity. “Enrollment is usually high (for the fall semester human anatomy and physiology course) and many students who could not get in the fall semester were able to take the (online) summer course.” The online laboratory is especially beneficial to students at a distance to the Virginia Tech campus because the materials are mailed to each student making this course highly accessible.

Although this course is the only online lecture and laboratory at Virginia, Gillian says she is confident that other science courses can also be tailored to an online delivery. Currently, there are plans to offer the online human anatomy and physiology lecture and laboratory during the 2012 summer semester to satisfy the high demand for the course.

Read more about Gillian's course, as well as other professors bringing innovation to the classroom, in the Spring 2011 edition of "Access & Innovation," a publication of the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning

Visit Virginia Tech Online for more information on online course availability.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

Written by Amy Shaffron, public relations assistant for the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning. 

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