The Imperfect Art of Designing Online Courses

Rio Salado College, Kaplan U., and a Drexel U. graduate program follow similar models

The Imperfect Art of Designing Online Courses 1

Laura Segall For The Chronicle

Melanie Abts, chair of the counseling faculty at Rio Salado College, leads a production meeting for a course on strategies for college success.

Ten years ago, Rio Salado College started offering its biology laboratories online instead of in person. The switch was made possible by the introduction of a virtual microscope that uses Flash animation, saving students time once spent setting up equipment. Now, instead of spending 20 minutes retrieving a microscope from the cabinet, carrying it to a lab table, and cleaning and adjusting the lenses, students simply log on to a Web site and immediately start manipulating images.