Q: It's week 10 of the 16-week semester and I just realized I need 3 more credit hours this semester to stay on track toward getting my degree. Help!
A: Alternative Calendar courses to the rescue!
University students approach their goal of achieving a degree, certification, or recreational learning from a multitude of angles and they seek offerings that allow them to learn even outside the confines of the traditional classroom setting and schedule. To accommodate a wide variety of student needs, traditional 16-week, classroom-based opportunities have been morphing and alternative delivery options are continually being explored.
The University of South Florida currently offers many different alternative course delivery methods.
- Accelerated courses are one example; some fit as mini-semesters (8 weeks) within a regular semester. Others are offered on weekends or in two-week formats. Alternative Calendar courses can be set up with a variety of start and end dates, while still meeting contact-hour requirements.
- Increasingly more degree programs are fully online.
- Corporations are partnering with universities to provide accredited professional development to their employees. Many of these certification programs occur off-campus.
- Students are increasingly being introduced to our global community through opportunities to pursue a portion of their education abroad.
Redefining Term Registration - A Registrar's Perspective
The USF Registrar's Office is constantly evolving in order to provide support for new course-delivery formats. Term registration, historically, has been driven by traditional semester start and end dates. Extensive accommodations have been necessary to allow registrations for courses which are set up with alternate dates. Registration windows have been expanded and are nearly always open to support nontraditional offerings. Students can register for Alternative Calendar courses even after the traditional registration period has concluded.
Accommodating Alternative Grading Needs - A Registrar's Perspective
Early submission of grades: Through the Web Reporting System, the Registrar's Office generates a weekly report to identify Alternative Calendar courses beginning and ending that week. Based on this report, a process has been created for faculty to submit their grades earlier than the normal end-of-term submission by course and section number. Early submission remains open until the deadline to submit ALL grades for the parent semester.
This method does not include access for students to view their grades in OASIS/BANNER or on official transcripts. Therefore, a process has been created to accommodate students who need documentation of their final grades before the standard end-of-term processing.
Benefits to the University
As in any Business, the University Registrar's Office must adapt to changing demands and interests. There are emerging alternative approaches to offer and deliver education. There are new and developing trends for open, online courses aimed at unlimited participation (e.g. MOOCS). Unrestricted courses will not be confined to a standard term or semester but much more modular, allowing varied self-paced completion and progression for each individual learner. So, investments to repurpose business systems, reengineer business processes, and train or develop skilled labor may be in order. In return, universities can expect student success and satisfaction, collaborative community partnerships, and increased access and revenue streams.
Willette Roach, Director, Lakeland Teach-out
and Becky Fisher, Enrollment Services Team Administrator