Butler Community College student Steven Lee had never taken an online class before, so he thought a "blended" learning class with half the work in a classroom and half on the computer would be a way to try online learning.
The blended English class saves him almost an hour round-trip drive to campus every other week.
"It's one extra day I can make money," Lee said. "And it saves gas."
Online course offerings are rapidly expanding at several local colleges this year and schools expect to add more e-schooling options in the future as more students demand them for convenience.
This is the first year Butler has offered blended learning classes, partly in response to growing concern among students about rising gas costs.
Online course enrollment has risen about 20 percent each year for the past five years at Butler, said Meg McGranaghan, director of instructional technology.
This year, more than 2,000 of Butler's roughly 8,000 students are taking online courses, with a total of about 10,000 credit hours earned over the Internet, Butler officials said.
"The phrase, 'If you build it, they will come,' is true for online learning," McGranaghan said.
About 650 students enrolled in the blended course pilot program. "For a pilot, that's very successful," McGranaghan said.
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