More than 38,000 students are taking at least one BYU-Idaho course on campus or online this semester. Since the announcement of BYU-Pathway Worldwide, online enrollment for both schools this semester is 19,026 students. That's an increase of 10.9 percent from last year. When asking students if they prefer online classes or in in-person classes, the reviews are mixed.
Here's what Summer Porter, an Early Elementary Education major, suggests for students who are here on campus."I think it's important to test out what you like," Porter said. "Take some online classes and take some in-person classes. You'll just get a feel of what you are most comfortable with and what works best for you."
Currently BYU-Idaho has 11 completely online Bachelor degrees. Some of these include Business Management, Nursing, and Software Engineering. Merle Benedict is BYU-Idaho's Associate Department Head of Health Recreation and Human Performance. One aspect of his job is working on online curriculum. In their department they have two degrees completely online. One is Public Health and the other is Health Care Administration.
"We have to be careful when we design the classes online because students really miss out on what we would hope would be really advantageous face-time with their instructor," Benedict said. "We are just really careful about being clear with the instructions online. Also we need to be careful of making the content, lesson material, and the assignments very clear to a student who will never meet their professor in person."
Benedict said he believes that focusing on the three imperatives former BYU-Idaho President Kim B. Clark mentioned during his inaugural address will help the students succeed. Those three imperatives are raising the quality of education, making a BYU-Idaho education available to many more of the young people of the church, and lowering the relative cost of education. You can see an excerpt of his talk below.
By making online classes more available to students, Benedict said they are helping this goal move forward. "I think offering programs online and having the creation of Pathway Worldwide seems to address each of those imperatives," he said. "We are making the students experience better here and making education more accessible to students who could never come here
The university's news release states that part of the continued growth in enrollment can be attributed to BYU-Idaho's unique educational emphasis. This includes the teaching focus of its faculty, the opportunity to gather with other students who share common values, and the University's focus on real-world preparation. They even have a campaign going on right now. If you look online, you'll notice a catch phrase on each picture of the home page "student focused by design."