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Winter Session - What would you do the same? What would you change?

Posted By Shelley Dempsey, Thursday, February 16, 2017

We are playing around with ideas for a winter session, and I'm curious to hear from those of you who are doing it well - and those who found that it didn't work for your campus.  What things would you do the same?  And what would you do differently if you could start over? 

Thank you!

Shelley - Univ of South Carolina

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Jeanie Kline says...
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2017
Hi, Shelley, ODU (Norfolk) launched a winter term pilot this past Dec-Jan, and it was a huge hit. We filled 9 classes within a few days of the opening of registration. Both faculty and students overwhelmingly--though not unanimously--said they would do it again. We analyzed DFW rates compared to those same classes offered in a more traditional semester and they all were better, with one exception. We plan to expand winter term in the coming years after the successful launch of this pilot.
Jeanie Kline
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Rachel Nottingham Miller says...
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2017
Hi Shelley! Another Virginian here. We've had January Term at the University of Virginia for over a decade now. Our instructors and students report its the most exhausting, rewarding time of the year. We have about 40 class offered in Charlottesville, a few others elsewhere in the US, and around 15 abroad each year. Each class is three credits. Our winter term is shorter in duration than many of our peers - only two weeks, with classes meeting 4 to 5 hours per day. Those extended days allow for day trips to sites of interest (e.g. our Virginia Gov't and Politics class spends a day in Richmond each year) or for workshopping art, writing, theater pieces throughout the day. Like ODU, we started with a pilot and grew slowly from there. Some classes work better than others, some are more appealing to students than others. Best of luck as you design your program!

Rachel Nottingham Miller
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Alicia Bingham says...
Posted Friday, February 17, 2017
At Western Kentucky University (WKU), we just completed our 12th Winter Term. Enrollment has been steady at about 10% of our Fall population takes classes over winter term (over 2,000 students each winter). We have around 300 classes available. Although online courses are our most popular, we saw growth in on-campus classes this year because we offered a few classes specifically for international students. The winter term does lend itself to travel opportunities, and that is another area of growth each year. We are a revenue dependent unit, so it's an incentive for departments to offer classes during winter because we give a portion back to them. Faculty enjoy an additional stipend at the end of January for their effort. It's a win-win for most everyone involved. The only pushback we have received is that we had to push our spring semester back one week. We start spring the week AFTER MLK day, so for students that do not participate in Winter Term, this creates a long (nearly 6 weeks) break between fall and spring. Happy to help answer any other questions if you have them!
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Jacob Askeroth says...
Posted 9 hours ago
Hi Shelley,
We are actually in the proposal/approval stages of a starting a fully-online winter session pilot here at Purdue, so we are also certainly interested in what other institutions are doing in terms of a winter session and how it is working out. We received a lot of positive feedback from students via an online survey that indicated that there is strong interest in taking winter courses and we have also seen quite a bit of interest from the faculty departments in offering courses. We are still exploring whether or not the session will be 3 or 4 weeks (Purdue's winter recess is only 3 weeks -- I'm impressed that UVA does their winter session in 2 weeks!) so we still do not know if it will fit neatly in between the fall and spring semesters or have a slight overlap with either of them.
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Danielle Lindsey says...
Posted 9 hours ago
At Illinois State University we completed a pilot Winter Session between our Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 semesters. We offered 7 courses, 1 hybrid Communication-special topics course that included practicum experience with our home Redbird basketball games, and 6 online courses. They were 4 weeks and did not overlap with the fall or spring term. The billing and grades were all part of the spring semester. All but one were at the undergraduate level. The graduate-level course was in Nursing. All the courses filled very well and students were successful based on faculty feedback and compared with students' success in the same course in the summer condensed format. Student feedback on our survey indicated that they were overall very satisfied with their experience and offered suggestions for other courses they would like to see offered in a future Winter Session. The faculty also had good experiences and would be interested in teaching in Winter Session again however, we did pay a flat stipend amount and some faculty commented that they get paid more for teaching the same 4 week course in the summer (because we have a different pay structure for summer).
We will offer another Winter Session however we need to determine how much should/can we grow. Total enrollment for the 7 courses was 183 students. Due to our student information system we had some manual processes to make this work and if we increase the number of courses/enrollment it will have a significant impact on our human resources, primarily in the Registrar's Office. Another concern is by teaching over the semester break, we do not have 'down-time' for our system upgrades etc..which creates some stress for our tech staff especially those who work with our learning management system. We also need to determine how to handle Winter Session when our semester break is only 3 weeks due to the academic calendar. I am happy to answer any questions. - Danielle Lindsey
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