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      Online education growing in popularity

      Since 2000, online enrollment at Bay College has increased by nearly 300 percent. Educators say online classes are an increasing trend across the country, but many still prefer a traditional lecture-style class.

      Online education caters to a more multimedia generation of students. For some students, especially those with families and jobs, online courses offer greater accessibility and convenience.

      "It's a really good solution for people that have busy schedules, and they can learn right from the comfort of their own homes or from their mobile devices," said Joseph Mold, Director of Online Learning and Instructional Technology at Bay College.

      On Facebook, Tom Henley says, "Saves gas driving to school, less distracting than a classroom environment plus you can take classes with the flexibility to work with your schedule."

      But for some degrees, like in science or medicine, students agree that online courses are not the way to go.

      "There are certain areas of study that you can't really do online. You need that instructor, hands-on experience," said NMU Sophomore Pre-Med student Courtney Ely.

      Other say they avoid online classes because they need face time with an instructor. Senior Archaeology Major Gabby Hoffman has taken three online courses, and says the best ones have an involved professor.

      "The professor made themselves accessible. They're like, 'Yes it's an online course, but if you have questions or problems, come see me,'" said Hoffman.

      NMU Professor Ferrarini agrees. She has taught online since 2000 and says an interactive class is the way to go.

      "In an online course, if it is structured correctly, you're interacting not only with your instructor regularly, but you're interacting with each other regularly," said Ferrarini.

      Comments on Facebook vary both for and against online education, but Renee Tranowski says, "Any education, whether online or in a classroom, is a good thing!"