Sierra College is one of a number of community colleges in California that are now expanding their options for online learning and distance education. Included in their 100 percent Internet based classes is PHOTO 75 Digital Imaging, an arts class focused on training the basics of digital photo work. The focus is on more than just software tools; it also understanding the principles of image-making. These include context, framing, texture, alignment, lighting and more.
As a digital class, the Sierra offering includes a standard approach of a required textbook (one you need to order on your own), a schedule of chapters and work to perform by set dates, a discussion forum to discuss lessons and share work product, and assessments to determine a student’s ability to learn the material involved. While there is an expectation the student will produce images, and the class is a photography class, it is not focused on camera use per se. Instead, as a session on digital imaging, PHOTO 75 is about how to save the image and then prepare it with different filters and effects after capturing it with a camera. This includes manipulation of the image with different software tools to produce desired effects.
As part of the class a student will be expected to subscribe to Adobe Creative Cloud to do the classwork, which is only $10/month, but one has to commit to a 12-month subscription. So if you don’t stay in the class or do nothing further with imaging, you’re stuck with the cost of the software access. Of course, those who already have the Adobe imaging tools don’t need to worry about the requirement.
The one thing to remember, however, distance classes are only as good as the instructor teaching the class. And in this respect Sierra College is no different than any other school. The institution has some good instructors and some not-so-good ones. A student can figure this out pretty quick by the level of dedication the instructor gives to the class right from the start, or lack of it. Sierra, like many of the community colleges, offers a real good value for the courses available (some would cost twice as much elsewhere). But if an instructor is not hitting the mark, it’s better to withdraw and get your refund back timely and then wait for a different instructor being available.