Local News

Carolina Courses Are OnLine

Posted July 27, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Teachers are familiar with the standard excuses for late assignments: The dog ate my homework; the printer wasn't working. But here's the most au courant: My guest tried to make a phone call.

That was the reason offered by Sylvia Robinson when she took the final exam for African Studies 40, one of four on-line classes offered last spring in a pilot program by the UNC-CH Division of Continuing Education.

She explained that, with a houseful of revelers awaiting the start of the Atlanta Coast Conference basketball championship, she was typing away on her computer when a guest unwittingly picked up the phone, cutting off the modem connection between Robinson and the campus, and interrupting her essay response.

"I PANICKED!" Robinson, a middle-school teacher in Winston-Salem, wrote in an e-mail.

Fortunately, university staff quickly helped Robinson reconnect her computer so she could complete the exam.

Despite that snafu, Robinson said she will take on-line learning over traditional, classroom-based learning any day.

"It beats commuting to Greensboro (to the campus of UNC-Greensboro) with its gridlock traffic, or, worse, icy roads," she wrote. "When AFRI 40 meets Interstate 40, AFRI 40 wins in a shutout."

The university's Carolina Courses Online allows students to learn, study and earn credits for undergraduate courses electronically. Students communicate with classmates and teacher via e-mail and discussion forums, and are encouraged to tap the vast information and education resources of the Internet to complete assignments. Courses are open to anyone with the necessary computer equipment; students need not be admitted to the university to enroll.

This fall, nine on-line courses will be offered. They are: "Introduction to African Civilization,""The History of Western Art,""Major American Authors,""Geohazards and the Environment,""The World Since 1945,""Introduction to Internet Issues,""General Physics,""Introduction to Urbanism and Planning" and "General Psychology."

Enrollment is taking place now. The fee is $375 per course and does not include textbooks or Internet access service. Students must enroll through the Division of Continuing Education, CB 1020, The Friday Center, UNC-CH, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1020. Phones are 800-862-5669 or 919-962-1134. Fax is 919-962-5549.