UK offers first minor completely online

By Jennifer Abreu| @KyKernel

jabreu@kykernel.com

The School of Library and Information Science is offering the undergraduate minor in information studies completely online starting this semester.

The program is the first and only all-online undergraduate major or minor at UK.

The courses required to complete the program are IS 200 Information Literacy and Critical Thinking, IS 201 General Information Resources, IS 202 Technologies for Information Services and three electives.

Students can choose from a list of eight other courses that are all 300-plus level. Courses are taught through BlackBoard and IS 200 requires no prerequisites.

The School of Library and Information Science already offers a master’s program in library science online and had long considered offering an undergraduate program using the same structure, said Will Buntin, the school’s assistant director.

“We felt that because we have expertise in online courses and there is a growing interest in them, that we could offer an undergraduate program that would give students the same independence,” Buntin said. “It’s something that makes us unique.”

Buntin said there are many benefits for students in the program.

“It allows the students to schedule courses when they can take them,” he said. “And students are a little bit different today, they can be full- or part-time, be involved in other extracurricular activities or be working, so they can work on the course at their most convenient times.”

Although online courses may be more convenient, Buntin says they are not much different from in-class courses.

“It is a regular course where they get things done weekly, they just can adjust it around their schedules,” he said.

Professor Cheyenne Hohman agrees that “versatility and variability of online courses are their strength,” but she also wants to make sure students are pushing their boundaries and learning, she told the Kernel via email.

“I try to keep the assignments interesting, so students learn new skills and get to do assignments that require them to use the Web as a resource — and to be critical of its contents,” she said. “Sort it out, and be able to determine what information is legitimate and what is not.”

Hohman teaches IS 200 Information Literacy, which about 60 students are enrolled in across two sections. Buntin added that students can always get help on campus.

“They can have access to the faculty at any time, by phone, email, or in person,” he said.

More than 70 students are enrolled in the courses now. Classes also will be offered during the summer.

“Students who are not from around the area, when they go home in the summer they can work on their classes,” Buntin said.

Students interested in declaring a minor in information studies can do so in their respective schools and majors. There is no distinction between online and in-class courses on a transcript.

The program “is a novel experience for UK,” Buntin said.

“I don’t think (UK) will ever go completely online, but you see bits and pieces, students will be able to complement their in-class course and be able to explore academically more than they are able to now by having access to online resources,” Buntin said.