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Online course delivery completes a decades-long journey

Posted on Friday February 22nd 2013

By Mary McClintock, ’82

When Scott Macpherson started at Boston University in 1969, studying online existed in science fiction novels, not everyday life. This past summer, Scott completed his BU bachelor’s degree by taking an online course at GCC.

How did a GCC online course conclude Scott’s long journey to a bachelor’s degree?

Scott studied political science and economics at BU from 1969 to 1973 but was 14 credits short of a bachelor’s degree. Scott has worked in automotive parts management for many years and has lived in Sunderland since 2008. In 2005, Scott started taking evening accounting courses at GCC, wanting to shift careers.

Scott MacPherson completed his bachelor's degree with an online class from GCC

Last spring, Scott became unemployed and decided to finish his bachelor’s degree. He asked BU if he could transfer GCC accounting credits toward his degree. BU agreed, but said Scott still needed two credits to complete the degree.

In May, having just started work as an accounts payable/bookkeeper for an auto dealership, Scott considered GCC’s summer course listings. Business and Economics Professor Thom Simmons’s online Macroeconomics course caught his eye. Scott thought a “big picture” course would balance out his very detailed accounting work. BU said if he successfully completed the Macroeconomics course, they would grant Scott his bachelor’s degree.

At 62 years of age, Scott started his first online course. Just as he had enjoyed and learned from on-site GCC classes, Scott appreciated the online course, saying “The class was very lively and productive. It helped me stay fresh with what’s happening now in the business world. Watching Thom in the videos, his presence really drew me in. He was very engaging. Like each professor I’ve had at GCC, Thom was responsive, supportive, and truly outstanding. Taking an online course was totally worth it. I got full value for my time and money.”

Scott is just one of many GCC students for whom studying online made the difference in completing their education. Thom said, “I have had students in the National Guard deployed to other countries continue their education through online classes. In the past year, I’ve delivered classes to GCC students stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, and Morocco who did not want to interrupt their education because of their military service.”

Online courses are more than just convenient. Thom said, “Online courses are great for any subject, but particularly important for students studying business. Doing business and conducting work online is the way the world operates. The skills used in taking online courses are important life skills for people entering the workforce. As the world continues to move in this direction, higher education must be there, especially those of us teaching business. I’m proud that GCC is right there with it.”

Commenting on GCC’s recognition of the importance of online courses, Sher Hruska, GCC’s Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer, said, “GCC is engaged in a significant expansion of our online course offerings. Students will soon be able to complete the Liberal Arts – General Degree completely online. We approach online course delivery with a focus on course quality, student engagement and interaction in the courses, and student support services to make the online course experience a positive and useful one.”

To learn more about online courses at GCC, http://www.gcc.mass.edu/online


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