Caption: Hugh Murray greets students in person in Cape May Court House and virtually in Mays Landing as they arrive for their Introduction to Criminal Justice class this month.
Atlantic Cape Community College introduced hybrid virtual courses this fall at its Cape May County Campus. They were so successful that the college will increase the number of classes for the spring 2017 semester. Students may choose from among 15 courses in the following disciplines: English, Communication, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Psychology, Sociology, Human Services, Music, Philosophy and Allied Health.
In hybrid virtual classes, professors divide their time between the Mays Landing and Cape May County campuses. While a professor teaches a class at one campus, it is live-streamed to students at the other, where a teaching assistant, who can manage any technical issues, is on hand. Live-streaming is transmitting or receiving live video and audio coverage of an event over the Internet.
According to Otto Hernandez, Ph.D., vice president of Academic Affairs, just as in traditional courses, students attend class and participate in virtual classes. “Students get to personally interact with the instructor,” Hernandez notes.
Hugh Murray, who is teaching Introduction to Criminal Justice as a hybrid virtual course this semester, explains that students in Cape May Court House and those in Mays Landing simultaneously listen to lectures, watch videos and participate in class discussions via live-streaming. “There is some good interaction between each campus and some good back-and-forth between students,” Murray says.
Dante Vasser, Cape May resident and freshman Criminal Justice major in Murray’s class, agrees: “The professor keeps us involved in everything.” Classmate Gillian Van Houten, also a freshman Criminal Justice major from Cape May, concurs and appreciates how engaging Professor Murray is. Noting that when Murray is in Mays Landing, and “he asks the Mays Landing class a question, then he’ll say, ‘Cape May, what do you think?’”
Hybrid virtual courses allow the college to offer courses at the Cape May County Campus that historically could not be run as traditional in-person classes due to low enrollment. Now, students may complete up to nine associate degrees entirely in person at this campus by taking a combination of traditional, online and virtual courses. These degrees are in: Business Administration, Communication, Criminal Justice, Education, General Studies, Health Services, Human Services, Liberal Arts and Psychology.
“Essentially, we are able to offer these degrees that students can pursue without ever leaving the county,” Hernandez notes.
Murray, a Cape May resident and retired police chief and township manager of Willistown, Pennsylvania, agrees that the virtual courses are convenient for Cape May County students who would otherwise have to drive to Mays Landing to take certain courses. Van Houten confirms that and says, “I like it because it’s easy. All my classes are at the same campus, and I don’t have to drive to Mays Landing.”
Tom Reynolds, a sophomore General Education major of Cape May Court House, explains that he prefers the virtual classes to online classes because, “I personally feel I learn more in a classroom environment. You need a lot of self-discipline with an online course.” Reynolds confides that he was leery about taking a virtual course, “but after seeing how included we are and the fact that Professor Murray comes back and forth every other week,” has convinced him that the class is a good experience and that he would enroll in another virtual course.
Atlantic Cape’s Cape May County Campus is located at 341 Court House-South Dennis Road in Cape May Court House. In addition to earning any of nine degrees without leaving the Cape May County Campus, students may also earn any of 13 online degrees or earn credits toward any of the college’s 46 degree programs. For more information, visit atlantic.edu or call 609-463-3960.