Independent Study offers free courses

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    By Melanie Wiser

    Education comes at a high price for students, but now there is a way to learn more and better one”s self though free courses offered by Independent Study.

    A year ago, the courses offered by Independent Study were evaluated to see which ones were popular, as well as which ones did not have high enrollment. Several courses were of interest to people, but no one was registering for them, Independent Study noted.

    “In some cases, it was a thing where people weren”t really enrolling but we knew that people were interested in the subject,” said Stephanie Harrell, instructional designer for the personal enrichment courses.

    As a solution to the problem, Independent Study decided to offer them free of charge as Web-based courses.

    “We figured it would be more of a service to people than just discontinuing them all together,” Harrell said.

    Since the program began, there has been a rise in the enrollment for the courses. Last month alone, 1,500 people enrolled for one of the free courses.

    “Since we did make them free, there has been a lot more interest and people have taken advantage of them a little bit more,” Harrell said.

    The courses, however, do not count for university credit, as the free classes require less work. They cannot be counted, as they are not graded and there is no time limit on them.

    “You can just do it in your free time,” said Kevin Hallstrom, a social sciences teaching composite graduate from BYU.

    The courses were designed to be used as a starting point for personal study or to add insight to an area of interest.

    “They are great to study on a Sunday afternoon, just taking one of the religion classes to further your personal study,” Hallstrom said.

    Wide varieties of personal enrichment courses are available. They range from family history and American politics to dating and honesty.

    This service is not only available to students, but to faculty and staff as well as those not associated with BYU.

    “I didn”t even know BYU offered such a service,” said Sami Lyons, student financial services customer service supervisor for BYU. “Maybe I will look into it.”

    This service has also received recognition from other publications and businesses.

    “There are smaller publication and magazines that have noticed and included them, either by linking them on their Web site or mentioning them in their newsletter,” Harrell said.

    To enroll for a free course, look online at the Continuing Education Web site, http://ce.byu.edu.

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