NCAA proposal more leeway for taking online classes

[email protected] Student-athletes might soon be able to use online classes to be eligible for competition. The NCAA will next week decide on a proposal that would allow student-athletes to take these classes to meet the minimum full-time enrollment requirement . Currently, student-athletes can take online classes as long as they are enrolled in at least 13 credits of classroom-based courses. J.T. Bruett , director of athletics compliance for the University, said the Big Ten Conference might be opposed to this rule because it would be hard to monitor what the student-athletes are doing in those online classes. Jane Hancock, program director of independent and distance learning at the University, said the online classes that are available year-round would be hard to monitor, but not the ones coordinated each semester because they have consistent interaction with instructors. Online classes available year-round would not qualify, but only classes available during the scheduled semester periods . In some ways, online classes have advantages. âÄúA lot of faculty have told me the online environment equals out participation and it gives the quiet students a chance to blossom,âÄù Hancock said. The students are given hard deadlines every week, she said. They either have to turn in assignments or participate in discussion boards. This gives students flexibility with their study time, but that could make online classes more difficult than people think, she said. âÄúIn reality, experience shows itâÄôs harder because you need a lot of self discipline,âÄù Hancock said. âÄúItâÄôs a human tendency to procrastinate.âÄù The proposal also states that all of the courses need to be available for any non student-athlete to enroll in. The University offers about 30 online classes per semester, Hancock said. Barb Schlaefer, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Office of Higher Education , said online learning has evolved in the past five years and the quality can be excellent. âÄúLike any kind of class you can take, the quality will be based on the commitment of the teacher,âÄù Schlaefer said. âÄúThere isnâÄôt any reason why an online class couldnâÄôt be one bit as effective.âÄù If the proposal is adopted, it would go into effect on Aug. 1, 2009. The NCAA did not respond to requests for comment, and the legislative council will meet Oct. 20 and Oct. 21. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney was not available for comment. Other Education Proposals The NCAA also proposed a limit of three courses for prospective athletes with learning disabilities to complete after high school graduation to make up for not meeting NCAA academic standards. Student-athletes with learning disabilities would have the summer after high school to complete these courses if they have not met NCAA requirements, Bruett said. The current policy allows an unlimited number of courses they can take after high school. The new policy would make it more consistent while still accommodating special needs.