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Learning from Afar or Across the Street: UC Expands Distance Learning Options and Increases Number of Distance Learners

Distance learning is an integral part of the university’s 21st century approach to meeting the diverse educational needs of students.

Date: 9/16/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Andrew Higley

UC ingot   Some of UC’s students never set foot on campus until Commencement. The University of Cincinnati is projecting 3,002 distance learners among its student enrollment this fall, an increase of 6.8 percent over autumn 2008. This fall, the university is also expanding distance learning options to meet the needs of students who are seeking learning opportunities outside the traditional classroom schedule.

“Distance learning at UC is a fundamental part of UC’s 21st century approach to increasing access to high-quality educational programs, meeting the needs of students and integrating 21st century technology into higher education,” says UC Senior Vice President and Provost Anthony J. Perzigian. “Our new distance-learning additions this fall build on UC’s commitment to providing flexibility for student learning.” Perzigian adds that on the state level, e-learning is a key strategy in meeting enrollment expectations set forth in the University System of Ohio Strategic Plan for Higher Education, which calls for a high-quality, affordable, flexible system of higher education that offers a wide range of educational options.

UC is part of a national trend in growing online enrollments, according to findings from the Sloan Consortium, an association of institutions dedicated to improving the quality of online education. The Sloan Consortium report, “Staying the Course: Online Education in the United States, 2008,” surveyed more than 2,500 colleges and universities and found that more than 3.9 million students took at least one online course in fall 2007, a 12 percent increase over the previous year. The report found that online enrollments are substantially exceeding the growth of the overall higher education student population.

UC’s distance learning enrollment has shown significant growth over this decade:

UC Students Enrolled in Distance Learning Degree Programs

  • Autumn 2000 – 213 students
  • Autumn 2001 – 245 students
  • Autumn 2002 – 386 students
  •  Autumn 2003 – 642 students
  • Autumn 2004 – 1,213 students
  • Autumn 2005 – 1,937 students
  • Autumn 2006 –  2, 290 students
  • Autumn 2007 –  2,559 students
  • Autumn 2008 –  2,809 students
  • Autumn 2009 –  3,002 students  (projected. Final numbers are reported in mid-October)

The majority of UC’s distance learners, 1,716, are in programs in the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH). In addition to launching online coursework to provide more flexible options for students on campus, CECH is also growing online programs. As part of its strategic plan for the 2009-2010 academic year, the college is expecting its online programs to account for 50 percent of its student enrollment growth.

“We know that online options appeal to students who need to make progress towards their educational and career goals while juggling work and family responsibilities,” says Lisa Holstrom, assistant dean for CECH. “Now more than ever, these working professionals need online options that deliver both convenience and quality.”

Here are some of the new CECH options this fall in distance learning:

College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services

UC Makes Master’s Degree Program for Teachers Available Online
Beginning this fall, UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) will provide its master’s degree program in curriculum and instruction online so that Ohio’s teachers can take courses toward their master’s degree. The online master’s degree program gives teachers the option of several focus areas, including National Boards Certification; an endorsement for working with gifted, talented and creative children; or an endorsement for Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). These focus areas mean additional career opportunities for Ohio teachers.
More background at this link:

New Online Program Track Serves Head Start Teachers
UC’s distance learning Early Childhood Learning Community (ECLC) this fall launches a new track to an online associate degree program for Head Start teachers who serve children from birth to the age of three. That is the period when children’s brains are growing the fastest. Supported by $1 million awarded by the Office of Head Start with a total of $3 million in anticipated funding, the partnership, “Mentor Infant and Toddler Teachers”(MITT), serves English-and-Spanish-speaking teachers serving infants and toddlers in early Head Start programs. The partnership is formed by UC’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, which is nationally accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE); ZERO TO THREE, a national, nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to promoting the healthy development of babies and toddlers; WestEd, a nonprofit research, development and service agency that is dedicated to ensuring success for every learner; and Child Trends, an independent, social science research center dedicated to improving the lives of children by studying every stage of development. Early Childhood Learning Community

UC’s College of Allied Health Sciences reports the second-highest number of UC’s distance learners, with 804 projected for fall 2009. Melody Clark, academic director of distance education at UC, says the health care professions are high-demand areas for distance learners nationally. This fall, UC’s College of Nursing is making five specialized master degree tracks available online, which expands its graduate distance learning program options to eight.

“Distance learning provides an opportunity for nurses to advance in the profession while working their full-time jobs and their rotating schedules,” says Lou Ann Emerson, senior associate dean of the College of Nursing. “Furthermore, in a female dominated profession, distance learning brings opportunity to our students who are pursuing their education around the responsibilities of their jobs and their families.”

  • Nurse Service Administration – Graduates are prepared for positions of leadership and change management in a variety of health organizations at different levels within the same system and in all sectors of the health care industry.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner – Family Nurse Practitioners provide care to individuals who are well, or who have common health problems. Graduates are prepared for responsibilities that include monitoring chronic diseases, ordering and interpreting diagnostic studies, prescribing medications and other treatments, providing health maintenance care across the life span, promoting positive health behaviors through education and counseling, and collaborating with physicians and other health professionals as needed.
  • Adult Nurse Practitioner – The program prepares students to become advanced practice nurses in adult health and provide health promotion, disease prevention, episodic and chronic disease management to individuals aged 12 and up in a variety of settings.
  • Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist – The psychiatric clinical nurse specialist prepares registered nurses for an advanced practice role in managing and providing therapy for adults or children with behavioral health problems in settings such as offices, community agencies, and inpatient behavioral health services. 
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner – The psychiatric NP prepares registered nurses for an advanced practice role in managing and providing therapy for clients with behavioral health problems in settings such as offices, community agencies, and inpatient behavioral health services.
    UC developed its first distance-learning program more than 20 years ago when the College of Applied Science pioneered the Open Learning Fire Science program through correspondence courses in 1984. UC now offers 23 distance-learning degree programs spanning five different colleges. Distance learning options range from certificates to associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees and master degrees.

Student Profile of UC’s Distance Learners

In autumn 2009, 78.6 percent of UC’s distance learners (2,362) out of the 3,002 distance learners reported in 2009 are female. The majority of them (83 percent) are part-time students and earning an undergraduate degree (53 percent). Their average age is 34.7; 71.2 percent are Caucasian and 14.1 percent are African-American. They represented all 50 states as well as learners with the U.S. Armed Forces in Europe and the Pacific. Students also reported citizenship in 37 countries including the U.S., with the highest number of international students in 2009, 32, reporting they were from Canada.

UC’s Growth in Distance Learning Degree Programs

  • 2003 – 8 degree programs
  • 2004 – 9 degree programs
  • 2005 – 14 degree programs
  • 2006 – 15 degree programs
  • 2007 – 16 degree programs
  • 2008 – 16 degree programs
  • 2009 –  23 degree programs

Degree Program Options- 2009

  • Associate degree programs  – 2
  • Bachelor degree programs  – 6
  • Master degree programs – 15

UC Colleges that Offer Distance-Learning Opportunities (programs, certificates or courses)

  • College of Allied Health Sciences
  • College of Applied Science
  • McMicken College of Arts and Sciences
  • College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Nursing
  • College of Pharmacy
  • Clermont College
  • Raymond Walters College

UC Colleges that Offer Degree Programs Online

  • CECH
  • College of Applied Science
  • College of Allied Health Sciences
  • College of Pharmacy
  • College of Nursing

Distance Learning & Outreach at UC

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