BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Phi Vang

Why do online lessons have specific start dates?

I am new here, found this interesting website while browsing the web looking for online classes.

I notice that the classes here have specific start dates, also some classes are noted as "full". I wonder why? Isn't the idea of online classes is such that any number of students can enroll (we don't have to fit into a room), and the student can learn at their own pace, starting any time?


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1/5/2007 12:13:39 AM

Debby A. Tabb
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/4/2004
  As I do some teaching myself,
I am sure it is as the class starts there is someone who monitors it and the matierals taught.
This would be difficult to keep up with if there were those jumping in and out, even on line.
just a thought,

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1/5/2007 6:07:10 AM

John Rhodes
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/24/2005
  Phi, Two questions: (1) why start on a specific date? and (2) why limit the number of students?

91) Lessons are sent out each wednesday with expectations of students sending in their assigned images during that week. BP does allow new students to enter a clss after the start date, but there's a lot of catching up to do in these cases. Another point: depending on the instructor, there's a lot of flexibility. I was out for a few days when I took Kerry's class and he worked with me to ensure I didn't miss a thing.

(2) The instructor interacts personally with each student with teaching, help, advice, and encouragement. There's simply a limit on the number of students an instructor can effectively mentor.

There another reason I found to be very important--the class started and ended together giving us a sense of "belonging" with each other. We spent a lot of time communicating with one another about our images, so the side-discussions were as helpful as interaction directly from the instructor.

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1/5/2007 6:26:16 AM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
  Real people, real start time. Virtual people, virtually anytime you can start, dosen't matter

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1/5/2007 7:54:04 AM

Phi Vang   Thanks All for your responses.

I can see the point in organising the weekly assignments, although I think that removes the flexibility that an online class offers, especially to people with a busy schedule (myself, I travel for work every week).

I like the part about the interactions, both teacher-student and student-student, the comraderie makes for an excellent learning experience.

On a different note, I also find the number of courses offered to be a little too many. While appreciating that there are so many aspects in the art and craft of photography, it seems a little difficult to organise a learning program. And based on some of the questions I read here, it seems a few others think the same.

All said, I think I will try to pull together a few courses for myself and enroll, after running out and buy a new digital SLR (I like the new Nikon D40)


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1/5/2007 9:47:13 AM

Kerry Drager
BetterPhoto Member
Kerry's Photo Courses:
4-Week Short Course: Creative Close-ups
  Hi Everyone,
Interesting discussion here! Thanks, John, for your right-on thoughts ... and Debby too!

Hi Phi,
Thanks for bringing up this subject. Actually, many students have travel/work issues ... we can send out lessons in advance. One nice thing about our online courses is that you don't have to be online at any specific time - i.e., no "live" chats.

It's true that the size of a physical classroom wouldn't be a limiting factor with online courses, but time is the limiting factor. Since our instructors are working professionals and since the courses are interactive (critiques, discussions, questions, etc.), there must be enrollment limits in place.

We definitely have a wide range of classes. Interestingly, most of our courses came about due to requests from students and prospective students ... lots of interest in all types of photography! Actually, we have a number of ways to pick a class; see my note below for suggestions. Plus, the instructors themselves can provide further information on their own classes. And since I'm a BP staffer as well as instructor, I can offer suggestions in regards to our entire school.

Thanks again, Phi!

How to Choose a BetterPhoto Class

To make the decision-making easier, courses are organized according to category and skill level. Also we have a very cool Course Calculator, designed to help you find the right class. And for those who would like to put together an entire yearlong program, we have put together a collection of courses for mastering nature photography and composition, Photoshop, and Making Money as a Pro ... See ClassTracks.

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1/5/2007 11:45:52 AM

Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Hi Phi and welcome to BP!

As John pointed out, the courses here at BP operate a little different than some online classes. I have taken classes through several online sources and, for me; the format here seems to work the best. When the classes are on-going, there is often no opportunity to interact with other students, something that I find regrettable. Having taken a number of BP classes, I find the sharing with other students almost as beneficial as the lectures from the instructors. The opportunity to view other people’s work; to share ideas and frustrations and to learn from each other’s mistakes is really valuable. The challenge of having weekly assignments forces you to get out and shoot, and I find that it forces me to look more critically at possible subjects because I “have to” submit something.

As to the challenge of having to travel for work while also trying to take an online class: I travel for my work (I do travel/nature writing and also do some consulting) and although in some cases I have not had to travel while enrolled in a class, in two of my most recent classes I spent much of the time out on the road. But, I take my laptop computer, my camera and it gives me something to do when I am alone in a motel room! That’s the great thing about the Internet, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can still access your lessons – well, most of the time. I have been way out away from even electricity, but then I just have to hand in my work a little late. As to the number of classes: it’s funny that you find it too many – personally, I keep wishing for more nature photography classes, but then that is my passion!

Good luck figuring out what you want to learn and good luck in choosing a new SLP.

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1/5/2007 11:58:33 AM

Phi Vang   Thanks, Irene for sharing your thoughts. And Kerry, the course calculator is pretty cool.


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1/6/2007 12:31:59 AM

Tracy M. Blair   I have a question about the tracks. Ideally it would be great to begin in January and go throughout the year, but it is March, can we begin the track with April 7 and work the year through?

I teach Multimedia and DIgital Graphics but REALLY need to learn more about Photoshop and am thinking about Track #2.

Please advise.

Tracy in Texas

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3/2/2007 12:32:01 PM

Keri L. Malinowski
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/3/2005
  Hi Tracy,

This is Keri, the ClassTrack advisor. We can still sign you up and begin your session now. Start date March 7th. I would enroll you in the current course "PhotoShop Fundamentals" with Jay Kinghorn. Then in April I would have you take two courses at the same time, meaning: the first course you missed along with the current April course: "1st is your Choice of Beginner or Advanced PS" and "Photographers Toolbox #1". You can go ahead and register if you like, and please let me know your choice in the "additional comments field." My email is
Thanks again,

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3/2/2007 2:12:01 PM

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