Salt Lake Community College is leading the way in education with their impressive slate of hundreds of online classes and a selection that is growing every year, providing students the opportunity to receive an education while juggling multiple responsibilities.
When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person classes in March 2020, SLCC was already prepared with online courses. They have been offering online education for more than 20 years, with the first online class launching in 1995.
“I think one of the things that [puts] SLCC ahead of the game is that they offered online courses early on,” said Jodie Jones, a communications professor at SLCC.
Now, in 2023, over 10,000 students are fulfilling their credit requirements remotely.
Yet the transition to a hybrid learning environment has not been without pitfalls. Common concerns raised during the pandemic include the lack of face-to-face interaction, limited resources, technical problems and a decline in motivation among students.
Emmy Riemann, a dental hygiene major at SLCC, has taken both online and in-person classes. She was initially concerned about the prospect of online education.
“Not all teachers knew how to use Zoom, so it was harder to take notes,” Reimann said. “When COVID hit, no one was prepared.”
Since 2016, SLCC has been partnering with Quality Matters, an educational resource for faculty that helps in developing online curriculum. It is used by professors to ensure that students are getting a quality education online — one that is easy to navigate, engaging and user-friendly.
Online courses are developed within each department by teams of professors, programmers and artists who work to determine that each course is legible, Jones explained. From there, courses are reviewed by trained online reviewers. Once the course has passed a final assessment, it can be taught for college credit.
Since SLCC has been developing online content for years, the transition from in-person to online during the pandemic was smooth for both students and faculty, Jones said.
An additional benefit of online courses is that they allow students to attend classes while continuing to work part- or full-time.
Tonia Day, a public communications coordinator at SLCC, explained that remote and hybrid learning help students who need to work but still want an education.
“There is a high percentage of students who are working and are in some way trying to contribute to not only their own living but also to their families, so they need some flexibility,” she said. “That is one of the reasons why SLCC is invested in online learning.”