“In a classroom, the instructor asks a question, only a couple of students are going to participate and respond to that question,” said Hayward-Wyzik, who has taught online English courses. “When I ask my question (online), every student has got to respond. The trick is to not ask a question where there’s one answer — What is 2 plus 2? The answer is 4 — the trick is to pose a question that requires application of the knowledge.”

Just as important, she said: “We ensure students interact with each other” by using the Moodle equivalent of the Facebook “wall,” in which everybody sees what everybody writes and can respond.

“We require that the students respond to two or three other students, engaging not only with the (course) content and with me as instructor, but they’re also interacting with each other,” she said.

More courses to come

Colby-Sawyer is already planning for an environmental science program that will be 100 percent online — including laboratory work done with kits mailed to students — starting next fall. If the board of trustees approves, it will implement a program for registered nurses to get a Bachelor of Science, tapping into the growing health care market.

The reality of the program leaves a bigger question: What would its success means for Colby-Sawyer’s traditional presence? Will the Web cannibalize the college and render those ivy-covered walls irrelevant?

“I don’t think so,” Hayward-Wyzik said. “There a coming-of-age experience of college, in which it’s critical for many students to come to the campus — the 18-year-old out of high school. For the slightly older students — single parents, those who are working, or they live too far away to commute to the campus — it provides them the same ideal Colby-Sawyer experience.”

And not only are online students welcome in New London anytime, they’ll be entitled to the same school-oriented items as students on campus.

“Can they have a Colby-Sawyer sticker on the back of the car? Absolutely!” Hayward-Wyzik said.

©2014 The Telegraph (Nashua, N.H.). Visit The Telegraph (Nashua, N.H.) at www.nashuatelegraph.com. Distributed by MCT Information Services

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