A growing selection of online classes at SLCC helps students drive sustainability. Enrollment at SLCC has experienced dramatic growth from the previous academic year. Along with the increase of students is the surge of waste and fuel consumption.
SLCC Online advocates a reduction in the use of fuel and paper waste.
“SLCC Online helps sustainability in two ways,” Wendy Johanson, an SLCC Online coordinator said. “With regards to the air, many students take online classes at home and therefore don’t pollute the air.”
“Online classes can be beneficial to the environment in that if you are taking solely online courses, then you’re not using fossil fuels in your commute,” SLCC student Hannah Mount said.
Less air pollution is vital to the Salt Lake Valley during winter months. “Red” quality air days are no stranger to the residents of the Greater Salt Lake area.
“With regards to waste, in some classes, professors offer or require online textbooks and students don’t need to find a way to recycle them after the class is over,” Johanson said. “Also, assignments for online classes are usually submitted electronically, no paper involved.”
Paper is the most recycled item at SLCC, totaling 5.45 tons per month at last count in 2009. The amount thrown away is uncountable.
“Environmentally, the best thing an online class can offer is saving paper,” Lucas Truong, former SLCC student said.
For the 2010 – 2011 academic year, there are over 11,000 students taking online classes, nearly a third of SLCC’s total student population. To accommodate the increase of students, SLCC Online regularly adds courses.
An expanding and extensive online course catalog provides more opportunities for SLCC students to take classes online.
“SLCC usually adds a few more online classes every fall and spring semester,” Johanson said. “For example, SLCC is fairly recently offering a Sustainability Certificate, some of the courses can be done online.”
Information for the certificate can be found at slcccontinuinged.com/sustainability.
Some classes are considered “hybrid,” with both in-class and online components. For example, math classes using My Math Lab and biology classes using Mastering Biology. Hybrid classes require regular attendance, but still save on paper waste because much of the assignments are electronically accessed, completed and submitted online.
“My current math class is mostly online, which has been surprisingly great. It definitely depends on the class though. I prefer traditional classes to online,” Mount said.
College students’ nationwide express desire and satisfaction for more advanced online classes.
“I prefer to get all communication electronically – it doesn’t waste paper and it’s ‘instant’ as opposed to snail mail,” Matthew Hilbert said, a student at Queens College of New York. “Queens College, sadly, still uses paper for most of its communication, it’s slow and wasteful.”
“San Jose started using web conferencing for some of their online classes. It’s in real time so it’s sort of like an actual class, but on your computer,” Kaleb Lee said, a San Jose State University student in California. “Some professors really like that.”
As of yet, SLCC Online does not have any plans to technologically advance its online classes.
More information on sustainability at SLCC can be found at slcc.edu/green.