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More students taking classes online

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: More students taking classes online
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Not all colleges are built the same. In fact, many community colleges don't have dorms and students have to travel each day. With gas prices, bad weather and busy lives, it’s not as easy for adults to go to school. That's why as our Brian Dwyer explains more colleges are offering classes online and he tells us the work is not as easy as you may have heard.

WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Colleges offering classes online is nothing new. As the number of courses offered grows, though, so does the number of students a college can attract. It's especially true if you're a commuter school with no dorms, like Jefferson Community College in Watertown.

"Our students lives, they're juggling so many things," JCC President Carole McCoy said. "They're trying to fit everything into the day. I think if you don't offer online classes, you're not doing them a full service."

JCC started classes Monday. While a majority of students will always want that campus experience, they will also want a choice. The school offers 69 courses online and this semester, the thousand students taking at least one is a 20 percent jump. Being so close to Fort Drum, for many soldiers the only way they can take courses is online. And it's not just reading text off a screen anymore.

"Some classes and some instructors actually generate videos of themselves teaching and put those online for students to be able to watch," JCC Dean for Curriculum and Instruction Jerilyn Fairman said.

And make no mistake, the folks at JCC say you may have heard how easy online courses are, but they tell us they're anything but. Not only is it the exact same workload, but students have to have that self-discipline to actually do it.

"Often they do not have a live lecture component so they really do have to kind of take it upon themselves to, in some way, teach themselves. For some students that's very important," Fairman said.

And the school hopes to not only add more online classes in the future but also create hybrid classes, blending at home work with on campus.

"A student can be online for a while and a student can be face to face for a while. So they get that support they need in the classroom, but have some flexibility in the schedule," Fairman added.

It's also very possible that the use of Skype and live webcams will grow, bringing the campus instruction home as well.

Currently, JCC has about 20 full time students enrolled who take their classes exclusively online.

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