While attending The Ohio State University, he took the opportunity to take the fairly new initiative of online learning and enrolled in some virtual classes. Today, Grimes has switched roles from student to instructor, as he teaches Student Success Strategies at the West Virginia Junior College eCampus.
“The technologies and online teaching strategies have changed so much over the years,” Grimes said. “When I took an online class, it was mainly a lot – and I mean a lot – of reading. And then there was a test. Now, at WVJC, the format has changed to include more interactive tools and downloadable content. Also, it feels more personable then most online environments.”
The one thing that has remained the same is the offer of convenience that students, and instructors, can take advantage of with the online classroom gives to everyone.
“One of my favorite aspects of the eCampus, is it allows me to go back into the classroom and interact, discuss, and help students directly,” Grimes said. “It is one of the things I really do miss when I moved into an administrator role from being an on-ground instructor at one of WVJC’s sister-campuses.”
The Student Success instructor added he really enjoys the discussion board dialog between the students, the emails, text messages, Facebook messages, and phone calls from students. Grimes said, he embraces the policy that instructors must share at least a direct phone number with students.
“I know you’ve had those time where you called a tech support number and you had to deal with a machine,” Grimes explained. “It’s not easy, it’s frustrating, and most importantly it’s not helpful. Well, guess what? Even though you’re an online student at WVJC, you have, at least, three to four people, you can contact pretty much anytime of the day!”
According to Grimes, one of the most important perks of an online degree is the possibility of balancing a job, being a parent, taking classes, and juggling every other little thing life throws at you. After discussing the choice of choosing WVJC with students, a common theme rises each time; an online degree best fit the students’ lifestyles.
Now, in addition to causing trouble with his two Beagles, being an amateur photographer, and drooling over the latest gadgets at the Apple Store, Grimes said – like the students – he can also find a good balance between his everyday life and work life due to the online environment. It’s another perk of doing things online; no daily commute, more times with the pets, and more time with the spouse.
But convenience isn’t the only important factor for students to take an online course. Especially at the West Virginia Junior College, each student has many advocates or a cheerleader of sorts, that motivate everyone to succeed. And, according to Grimes, having those advocates is one of the most important factors an online student can possess,
“Besides being a rockstar with time management, it is important for a student to surround him- or herself with positive people who understand the academic and life goals and will support them through the good and difficult times,” Grimes said. “You shouldn’t go through this alone and with great classmates, supportive instructors, and awesome staff members at WVJC, having awesome friends and family can complete that support system a student needs.”
On the topic of support systems, Grimes added that students should really get a good vibe right off the bat when looking for an online school. Since having a great support system is vital in the path to success, a student should really click with the personnel helping them with their education and career path.
“Find someone who cares,” Grimes suggests. “What I really like at WVJC is when I go into the office, admission representatives still ask about the students they talked to, the academic dean is asking about students and sharing stories, and the career management director, stops by and brags about how nice the students are that she spoke to already.”
“It truly is a family here at the West Virginia Junior College,” Grimes said. “You can see that from the top down. The schools are run by the Callen family and they stress and share that same mentality of taking care and being supportive of one another.”
“To me,” Grimes added. “it feels good to have a family, and it feels good to have an extended family of staff, faculty, and, of course, students.”