Diane Wright is an assistant professor of adult and career education at Valdosta State University and teaches eMajor online courses. Often sought out by her colleagues for her expertise in online teaching, Dr. Wright contends that studying and teaching online takes more time than learning or teaching in the classroom.

In spite of the challenges, Dr. Wright says, "the 
main reason I teach online is for my students.  The majority of my students are taking online courses to meet their work or life schedules.  I have some students who are holding several part-time jobs so the only way they can take courses is online."

One of the most challenging aspects of teaching through eMajor is videoconferencing.  "We use Wimba for our video conversation, but it still can’t replace the experience of face-to-face interaction," she says.  "Students who like a quick exchange of ideas typically like a classroom environment.  On the other hand, students who experience anxiety when they are called on to speak during class typically enjoy the time to reflect on their responses offered by online courses."

Dr Wright gains inspiration for her virtual teaching through non-virtual experiences. For example, she and her grandsons have recently taken on a project of learning to do magic tricks. Presently, she's coming up with ways to incorporate some magic tricks into her lesson plans. She explains that when she teaches adult and career education majors, she shares with them the great importance of creating an exciting and memorable learning environment.

This summer, Dr. Wright will teach Contemporary Skills for the Workplace though the eMajor program

One of the best kept secrets in much of Georgia is the dual enrollment program which allows high school students to take college courses and also receive high school credit simultaneously. eCore, the University System of Georgia's online core curriculum, offers several fully-online core courses through nine USG institutions.

High school students who take dual enrollment courses often start college with a year or more of college already completed, and save money because Georgia's ACCEL program covers most or all the tuition. Furthermore, the courses taken do not count towards the 129 hours covered by Georgia's HOPE program.

Last Friday, Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 131, which will provide even more incentives for high school students to participate. The legislation, which goes into affect July 1, will give bonus points to a student's GPA and count towards the "rigorous coursework" that the HOPE scholarship requires.

"These partnerships allow high school students to earn college credits before graduating from high school, making their transition to postsecondary education smoother and their likelihood of graduating from college greater," Deal said.

eCore courses, in particular, provide an exceptional avenue for dual enrollment because they are fully online. "Students can take these courses from home, and they will interfere less with sports or other extra-curricular activities. Alternatively, some schools provide in-school study halls where students can do their online work together," explained Dr. Melanie N. Clay, dean of USG ecore. 

"For highly motivated students, I advocate for students taking the courses online from home, as this helps to better prepare them for the responsibilities they will face as a full-time college students," she said. Either way,  she said, "there's really no better way for parents to save big money on their child's college tuition" than to take advantage of dual enrollment.

An advantage of eCore dual enrollment courses over AP (Accelerated Placement) courses is that eCore course credits are accepted at all University System of Georgia institutions (lab sciences are occasionally an exception depending on the institution and the student's major). Credit is not based on a testing score as it is in AP - if the students passes the class, he or she earns the credit. eCore courses are standard across all member institutions, and were developed by teams of faculty members representing a cross-section of University of System Georgia institutions. Students may also take online eCore courses for dual enrollment in the summer.

Because eCore courses are online, a high school student can dually enroll in any of the nine member USG institutions with no concern as to how far the institution is from the student's home.

To enroll for Summer or Fall 2013, view the handbook, or email Craig Brown, USG eCore Senior Enrollment Manager.