To the editor,
A news story about online course fees in the Feb. 9 issue of the East Tennessean suggested that the additional fees for online courses were a necessary evil. While I understand that there must be funding of online software, I think that the online fee should be spread into regular course fees. Online fees should cover only what is additionally needed for the specific class.
The story argues that additional fees for online classes are needed to fund Desire2Learn, Respondus Lockdown Browser and WebEx. I think the additional fee would be justified if online courses were the only classes using these programs.
Of course most classes use D2L, but I have taken many classes in regular settings that require me to use Respondus Lockdown Browser and WebEx. In contrast, I have taken three online courses, and none of them required me to use either software.
If these programs are being used in online and regular ETSU courses, then why are the online additional fees not being applied to all classes? The article states that D2L is funded by the technology access fee. ETSU states on its Information Technology Services website this fee is paid each semester by all students. Why can this fee not be expanded to cover the online fees and be divided among all students per class?
Likewise, students are paying fees for their department, yet they have to buy access to additional sites that should be included in department material fees. One student pointed out to me the media and communications department partners with Adobe, yet he still had to pay for Adobe software access on his own for an online course. The student needed this software to complete assignments, yet the department fees nor the Adobe partnership covered the cost.
ETSU obviously has to pay for programs that its students use, but current online fees should be redistributed to all students because the programs are used by students in regular and online classes. The technology access fee should expand to cover these charges. Additional online fees should cover online and class-specific software that students need like Adobe products, not online programs that all students use.
I am thankful that the additional charges were addressed in the East Tennessean, but there are still unanswered questions from students.
(I wrote this for my opinion writing class with the intention of having it published. The school newspaper published a similar article before I could send them this one, so I never had it sent.)