Baker College Moves IBM i Classes Online
October 27, 2014 Dan Burger
Baker College has transitioned all of its IBM i-related courses from the classrooms of its multiple campuses to online. The Michigan-based school offers courses in RPG, CL, database, and enterprise architecture, among others that are Power Systems related such as Linux and AIX. The online classes are open to anyone, whether they are enrolled at Baker College in a degree program or are interested in a single class.
Michael Picerno, dean of information systems, oversees the IBM midrange computing curriculum.
“The administration at Baker determined that on-premise classes with small enrollments be taken online,” Picerno says while noting other changes. “Class size has gotten bigger since going online and once students take one class online they continue to take them online.”
Baker offers degrees in computer technologies such as computer programming, computer science, database technology, information systems, mobile application software engineering, project management, and Web development, among others. It offers associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate degrees.
Regardless of whether a degree is the objective, Picerno believes the online classes provide the opportunity for individuals to learn new skills that apply to their current employment requirements.
“There is a definite need for these skills,” he says. “I don’t ever see this need going away, but a lot of schools are not teaching this stuff anymore.
“I’m hoping people will realize they can take courses here that will help them in their jobs,” he says. “They can come to the college, get some training, while continuing in their workplace. They get the skill set they need and maybe stay on at Baker and get a degree.”
Picerno describes the online courses as “asynchronous.”
“Everything can be done at the student’s own time, but the person attending online has to be dedicated to reading, watching videos, and participating in interactive discussions. Students are required to have some discussion on the board for five days out of seven. That may be responding to another student’s post or bringing up an idea or topic on their own.”
The class schedule, with assignments and participation, is Monday through Friday for six weeks.
“It’s like the job itself. When you are troubleshooting, you are going through the users to find a specific problem. The interactive discussions are much the same,” Picerno says.
“The student learning outcomes are identical to that on campus. The content is the same. I think the interaction online is a little more intense than classroom,” he says. “Online you are in class five days a week with ongoing discussions.”
Instructors participate in the discussions and are available for one-on-one consultations using Web-based instant messaging and video chat platforms like Google Hangout.
Class size is capped at 15 students. If demand exceeds that number, a second class is created and the total number of students is divided evenly between the two classes.
Class registration deadline is 30-days before the start of class. The next round of classes at Baker begins in early January, which means the registration deadline will be early December. The IBM i-centric classes–RPG IV, Advanced RPG IV, and CL and File Design–are all four credit-hour classes. Baker charges $225 per credit hour, making each of these classes a $900 investment.