Online Learning Continues to Grow at IPFW

More college students are choosing laptops over lecture halls.

According to the Online Learning Consortium, a continuous growth and enrollment in distance education, in spite of decreased overall enrollment, marks a substantial transition in contemporary learning.

The newest study from Babson Survey Research Group indicates the growing trend, with 5.8 million college students or 28 percent of the college population currently enrolled in online courses.

At IPFW, distance education is experiencing proportionate growth.

“Overall enrollment has gone down a little bit,” said Assistant Director of Continuing Studies James Cashdollar, “while online enrollment has continued to expand.”

According to the Distance Learning website, IPFW provides 220 distance courses per semester, with four bachelor and three graduate degrees offered exclusively online.

Still, the Online Learning Consortium reports despite growth and expanded online programs, overall confidence among faculty members in distance education effectiveness is down.

Cashdollar doesn’t see it that way. Behind his standing desk he admits online learning has been stigmatized in some academic communities as less effective than face-to-face courses, but insists confidence among faculty at IPFW has only progressed.

Professor Adam Dircksen is the online course director for the department of communication. Before teaching online, he devised a thesis surrounding the ineffectiveness of distance courses. His experience teaching shifted that perception.

“If I were to have written my master’s thesis later, it wouldn’t have been an argument based on courses being ineffective due to a lack of interpersonal communication,” said Dircksen, “it would be online courses are more challenging to build connections.”

Dircksen said his present goal is to activate a sense of community in his online courses through strategic design and personal engagement.

“Building community in online courses is a lot of little things,” Dircksen said. “Video updates, smaller discussion groups, and weekly emails allow students to sense that someone is actually there.”

To compliment her busy work schedule, Jenna Fritz, a senior OLS major, said she has taken a third of her classes online.

Based on her experience with distance courses, Fritz considers certain subjects more effective when taught online than others. She said when it comes to online courses, small discussion forums and instructor input are key.

“I took some type of Photoshop class and I had no idea what was going on the whole semester.  I had to email other students for questions,” Fritz said. “She wasn’t there for us.”

Fritz and Dircksen both suggest the importance of engaging students online through contact extending beyond basic correspondence.

“Online learning can encourage an instructor to find more creative ways not only to engage students,” Dircksen said, “but to distribute materials and design assignments.”

Dircksen said it will be the willingness of faculty to embrace and transition into the online format that will define course effectiveness.  IPFW, he feels, is on board.

“We’ve grown tremendously in our online course offerings,” said Dircksen. “Faculty development of online courses is well supported here.”

The Impact of Body Image Across Genders

People too often assume it affects only women.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, over 10 million men will suffer from some kind of eating disorder in their lifetime.  This includes anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating.

Judy Tillapaugh, IPFW wellness and fitness coordinator, is also a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. She meets with students and faculty on campus to talk about personal fitness, and to improve the body image of her patients.

“Listening to students, listening to faculty and staff, I feel that in general our population is similar to the nation’s population that the majority of people do have body dissatisfaction,” Tillapaugh said.

Tillapaugh said she believes men’s body image is an especially underreported topic, in comparison to women’s body image. Their goals are different too. Women typically want to lose more weight while men want to be more muscular.

She believes a number of factors contribute to these ideals.

“I think that it’s not one factor but a number of factors that contribute, but it’s a combination,” Tillapaugh said. “Social, cultural, people’s time in their life, there is no one factor.”

Jake McDougald, an OLS senior from Auburn, agrees.

“I guess it depends on the situation,” McDougald said. “I think as far as if a guy or girl, which one cares the most, it just depends on the personality of the person.”

McDougald said he has a positive view of his body image, but continues to enhance it. He works out and eats healthy, so he can feel better about himself and comfortable in his own skin.

He said his relationship status has an impact on maintaining his weight.

“When I was single, I was able, that’s all I would do, work, workout, then go to school,” McDougald said. “Back then I’d cook up my meal for the next few days, granted it was basically the same thing, but you know it didn’t bug me. Because when you have someone else cooking with you, you can’t have that same meal every day.”

Zack Yahi, a freshmen general studies major from Fort Wayne, also believes that relationship status has an effect on how he sees himself.

“I’m self-conscious because I notice a lot of the guys around me are fit, or toned up, and they’re good looking,” Yahi said. “When I look at myself, I’m not. It has a negative effect on me.”

Yahi said he thinks the problem affects more than just gay single men. But he feels the gay community focuses on looks, which contributes to body image.

According to the journal Body Image, a study with 38 straight and 38 gay college men was conducted to test their body image using factors such as media influence and media exposure. Gay men scored highest in all categories, which suggests they are more susceptible to poor body image and media influence.

To enhance his body, Yahi said he goes to the gym, watches what he eats, and keeps his hair trimmed. He feels his body image is negative, but improving.

“I feel like I have a little extra weight here and there but don’t like that about myself, but recently I just came to terms with it,” Yahi said. “You have to love yourself for others to love you.”



Solid Turnout for IPFW Industry Fair

According to Business Insider, career fairs present great opportunities for students and employers. Putting this message to the test, IPFW Career Services has hosted an the IPFW Industry Fair for the past several years.

This year’s Industry Fair differs from the past events. IPFW CSC collectively decided to move the event to the IPFW International Ballroom, and make the event industry specific.

Those at the Industry Fair seemed to enjoy the intimate students and employers quickly filled the room to engage in conversation.

“This is an excellent setup we have this year,” Dr. Eric Norman, the chief of student affairs, said.

Dr. Norman said he could instantly feel the closeness in the room.

“The lighting and the warmth and intimacy of being here in the ballroom really brings a different vibe than we’ve had in past years,” Norman said. “Which I think is a huge benefit.”

Director of Career Services Ashley Calderon also shared her excitement about the new setup, but said that employers will have the final say.

“The setup we have is really cool and different than past years,” Calderon said, “but ultimately we want to know if the setup pleases the vendors because without them we wouldn’t be able to put on this event.”

The IPFW First Destination Survey says just around 89 percent of IPFW graduates are employed in Northeast Indiana. This makes it important for IPFW to bring in many local businesses in order for students in the area to make connections that are close to home.

Nancy Schmidt, who represented the Fort Wayne City Department at the fair, stated just how important these connections are.

“This fair is a great way for students to get out and get a good idea of jobs and positions that are open in the area,” Schmidt said. “Even though this year’s fair is industry specific, you never know who you might meet.”

Positivity seemed to surround the event’s new setup and concentrated agenda, as chattering and smiles were abundant. IPFW student Zack Sarra expressed his appreciation of the event’s great opportunities.

“The setup is pretty nice,” Sarra said. “It’s so much more cozy to have the fair in here instead of in the gym like past years.”

Sarra also believed that the focus to one specific job field was more beneficial to him as a student.

“For me, every vendor in here is right in the career path I want to follow,” Sarra said. “This fair eliminates some of the guesswork and allows me to go straight to the employers I want to talk to.”

According to Job Mob, students should use the job fairs as an opportunity to hone their interviewing skills, while also getting help with their resume.

“I think students should still come out to the fair, even if we don’t have anything in their field at the moment,” Director Calderon said. “At the bare minimum, they can get help with improving their resume and work on their interviewing skills.”