Spoon River College offered its first online course 20 years ago. Now students can earn an associate degree entirely online, and both technical and transfer courses are available.

Spoon River College offered its first online course 20 years ago. Now students can earn an associate degree entirely online, and both technical and transfer courses are available.


“We even have a biology lab course and public speaking course online, and we recently added two online chemistry courses,” said Lisa Dennis, director of academic support.


Online classes offer convenience and flexibility, but Dennis cautions against thinking of them as easier. “Students must be diligent and disciplined in scheduling time to complete coursework, and students are advised of online learning expectations when they register for them.”


That convenience and flexibility are exactly what many students are looking for, such as Sydney Bohler of Canton and Ashley DeMay of Trivoli.


“I actually comprehend information better if I am face to face with my teacher, so I have to read a lot more and do more research, but I’m currently working two jobs and online is just easier,” said 21 year-old Bohler, who already has her cosmetology license in addition to classes at the U of I under her belt. “On a good note though, I can do my homework and take tests on my own time.” Bohler is currently working towards her associate degree in preparation for nursing school in the fall.


Ashley DeMay of Trivoli is also preparing to begin a nursing program, and has only taken one face-to-face class during the past three semesters. With a full-time job and a young son to care for, convenience is a major factor, but the 29 year-old DeMay also has another reason for choosing online learning.


“I have severe test anxiety. Taking quizzes and tests at home helps me to relax and stay calm. I also like the fact that you can do homework at your own pace. I have never felt pressured to get my work completed,” said DeMay.


Canvas is the learning management system used for online delivery, and both Bohler and DeMay gave it high marks for ease of use. “It’s easy to navigate, and both faculty and advisors are ‘there’ to assist when needed,” Bohler said. DeMay agreed, adding “I love the layout of Canvas and that online teachers have everything in order at the start of the semester, which is nice.”


Math instructor Sarah Dalpiaz, who had both Bohler and DeMay as students, said that online students have access to lecture videos that provide classroom-like instruction with the bonus of being able to pause and/or rewind if needed. “We also use the Hawkes Learning Systems. It’s user-friendly, provides instant feedback, and allows problems
to be practiced until the concepts are grasped.”


And while it may seem impossible to offer an online chemistry class with a lab component, it’s not. Students purchase an access code for online homework and a lab kit that allows them to complete the labs at home. Minus some common household items, the kits contain everything needed, including glasswork, a burner, chemicals, and access to detailed instructions.


“The kits can be purchased in the Spoon River College bookstore using financial aid if eligible, or directly through the company website,” said Bridget Loftus, chemistry instructor. “Every component of the labs is completed at home on the student’s own time. Data is logged, pictures are taken, lab questions are answered, and then all is submitted online. No paper copies are necessary.”


Based on quality, affordability, flexibility, and degrees granted to students, Spoon River College has been recognized as one of the top ten community colleges in Illinois offering online education by the Community for Accredited Online Schools

(AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org). Online enrollment at Spoon River College has hovered around 23 percent for the past two years, and includes dual credit students.


For more information about online courses and degrees, visit www.src.edu or call 309-647-4645.