As employees return this week from the winter shutdown, Virginia Tech’s 2015 winter session is in its first full week of classes and will continue through Jan. 17. Approximately 1,800 students are enrolled in 105 different courses, a 75 percent increase in enrollment from the university’s inaugural 2014 winter session.

Winter session engagement can be seen across the university, with more than 40 academic departments offering a course through one of the four delivery options:

  • Virtual campus, with 100 percent of the coursework offered online, which represents the largest enrollment area;
  • Blended, a combination of online and in-class work;
  • Winter experience, delivery of courses in alternative locations either internationally or domestically; and
  • In-residence, daily classes throughout the 12 to 15-day winter session term at the Blacksburg, Virginia, campus.

Total enrollment accounts for 2,135, indicating that 365 students are enrolled in more than one course. 

Winter session was created to help students make progress toward their degree, said Michael Herndon, director of summer and winter sessions. 

“I am encouraged by the growth of enrollments and interest in winter session from students, faculty, and the university community,” said Herndon. “I like to term it the ‘winter session advantage’ as students have an opportunity to catch up or get ahead on their studies, as well as graduate early.”

Winter experience courses doubled this year at 14 offerings, affording students an “immersive” experience at both domestic and international locations. These destinations include New York City; Orlando, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina, on the domestic front. International venues include Australia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, New Zealand, Peru, and Thailand.

There are several first-time course offerings, including COMM 4984: PR Goes to the Movies: The Practitioner and Pop Culture offered through the Department of Communication. Students are in Orlando with Assistant Professor Kelly McBride, where they will investigate the role of public relations in five films and discuss filmmaking with Universal Studio Florida employees.

According to McBride, the course is a good fit for the winter session timeframe.

“We will spend one week watching the movies with group discussion, and the second week, back in Virginia, students will focus a paper on one of the films, detailing what they thought the characters did correctly and what they might have done better,” McBride said.

Students will also have the opportunity to explore Orlando in their free time. This course is open to both majors and non-majors.

Another first-time offering is an online course on urban transport study called UAP 4984 Special Study: Walking, Cycling and Public Transportation for Sustainable Cities.

Students are examining how increased walking, cycling, and public transport could benefit the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of urban transport systems, shares Ralph Buehler, associate professor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning in the National Capital Region. By studying the history of U.S. urban transport, sustainable transport in the U.S. today, and transport policy and planning, students will gain a better understanding of sustainable urban transport.

“There is no undergraduate course offered in Blacksburg that deals with the important subject of transport policy,” Buehler said. “This is an exciting time to study urban transport.” This course is taught online so students can keep their usual holiday plans while still getting ahead on coursework.

Visit the Virginia Tech winter session website for more information.

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