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Friday, 06 July 2012 16:57

GRCC business classes find perfect match online

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GRAND RAPIDS — The increasing popularity of business courses at Grand Rapids Community College has helped the two-year academic institution increase online enrollment by 13 percent for the summer of 2012. Since 2009, online course enrollment has grown some 67 percent. 

Even more revealing is online courses now account for 30 percent of all classes at GRCC. The two-year college offers more than 130 classes online.

"The flexibility that online classes present to our students is definitely an advantage when juggling work and family responsibilities," said GRCC Provost Gilda Gely. But Gely warns: "Online classes are challenging. They require a lot of self-discipline and sophisticated time management skills from the student."

Nevertheless, associate professor Eric Kunnen, director of distance learning and instructional technologies, said over the past nine years that he's been teaching online, more business courses have been added to the online catalog each year.

"Almost all of our online courses in business are full for classes that start in August," he said. "I may see students from age 18 to 50-something in our online classes. A lot of the older students have been laid off from a job, or they need a degree for a promotion."

GRCC now offers 50 different sections of business-related classes on 20 different subjects, said Ann Alexander, associate professor of business. There are a half-dozen courses called "Introduction to Business," and another half dozen in "Marketing." GRCC offers five online courses in "Computer Applications," and four more in "Management."

"We see a lot of people further along in school, or coming back for more education," Alexander said. "I teach a course called Business Communications. We focus on types of writing one does in business. It could be reports, or other types of business correspondence. We also teach communicating using technology, such as using social media for business."

She said her online students range from busy professionals looking to hone their business skills to entering freshmen working on a two-year degree in general business, or taking business courses to prepare them to transfer to a four-year college or university business school.

This fall, GRCC will offer a complete degree program online, one of the first times GRCC has done that. It is the Information Security Associates in Applied Arts and Science degree to help meet the rising demand for information security professionals. According to the college, the online Information Security Degree is expected to meet the needs of today's students that seek technology advances to further their education.

"Students are requesting more and more online options and the Information Security Degree lends itself to those familiar with technology," said GRCC professor Luann Keizer, who helped develop the online program.

Kunnen said the college's online enrollment has grown over 43 percent over the past two years. The new programs "will enhance the flexible learning opportunities available to students."

The college also uses a Class Finder app to communicate various pieces of information to students and prospective students.

"We've found that the app is a good way to share our offerings with business students and professionals," said Professor Garret Brand, liaison for faculty professional development.

Mike Brennan is senior technology writer at MiBiz. His day job is editor and publisher of

Read 1263 times Last modified on Saturday, 28 July 2012 18:39

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