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Friday, September 29, 2023

UF freshman Eric Olson walked into his first macroeconomics class in Bryan Hall in fall 1980 not knowing what to expect.

There was no professor present, and eight TVs were set up in the lecture hall. All of a sudden, professor David Denslow’s face popped on the screens and he began lecturing.

“It was wild,”  Olson said. “It was one of those ‘wow, I am not in Kansas anymore,’ Dorothy moments.”

Thirty years later, Olson is director of information technology support programs in the Warrington College of Business Administration.

Since 1980, technology has continued to advance, and UF is following the trend of offering online and hybrid classes.

Online learning is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology, according a study by the U.S. Department of Education.

There are 95 more Web courses offered at UF this spring than in spring 2009, and enrollment in face-to-face classes is down by 8,162 students, according to enrollment data from UF’s Office of Institutional Planning and Research.

Some people are adamant that the changing dynamic of technology will be the end of education as we know it, and some feel it is a great opportunity, said Andy McCollough, associate provost for information technology, e-Learning and distance education at UF.

Studies have shown, in many cases, students obtain more knowledge in online courses than in face-to-face courses, McCollough said. That is because students have more control over their learning and the opportunity to rewind lectures and review them again and again until they understand.

Denslow was able to teach more than 250,000 students over the past 30 years and has won many teacher of the year awards, Olson said.

“Without offering his classes online, there is no way a faculty member like him could teach that many students efficiently,” he said.

Olson, a professor for the online class Computing in Business Environments, said he misses the opportunity to interact with students on a face-to-face basis.

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“I don’t get the opportunity to get to know some of my students well,” Olson said. “There are times I miss or yearn for that relationship you develop interactively.”

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