November 8, 2009
09-189

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Distance Learning Week Celebrated Nov. 9-13

VALDOSTA -- The University System of Georgia will celebrate National Distance Learning Week Nov. 9-13 to generate broader awareness of the learning method that has grown in popularity during recent years.

According to a statement recently released by USG Communications, student enrollment in online courses offered by the 35 colleges and universities in Georgia's public higher education system have risen 35 percent in the past year. The report said there are 43,000 students enrolled in at least one online course at any given semester -- about 15 percent of the system's total enrollment of $300,000

Course offerings have also expanded significantly, giving students broader options for expanding knowledge. At Valdosta State University, new online programs have brought added convenience for graduate students -- especially those studying education.
Three new education degrees, an education specialist degree, two Georgia Professional Standards Commission Endorsement programs for Education and the Doctor of Public Administration -- all offered strictly online -- have provided valuable new options for potential graduate students.

"These students are often professionals, who have full-time jobs and growing families, so time at home is important for them," said Graduate School Interim Dean Karla Hull regarding VSU's emphasis in developing online graduate programs. "E-learning allows them to complete graduate level coursework in the evenings and weekends without having to commute to campus."

Hull also said online programs enable graduate students from all over country to receive their advanced education from VSU, which increases the diversity of the graduate student population and enriches the learning experience with new ideas.

Although these new options allow working professionals to access coursework with ease, they are just as challenging as any on-campus degree program.

"The online programs we have added are rigorous and accredited by the same professional accrediting bodies as the face-to-face programs," Hull said. "In addition, our candidate pools for these programs have shown high quality in terms of grades, test scores and recommendations, making them very competitive."

The Doctor of Public Administration and the education endorsements are offered solely through Valdosta State's Graduate School. The new education degrees are offered in collaboration with several other University System of Georgia institutions via Georgia ONmyLINE, www.georgiaonmyline.org. The Web site offers potential students easy access to system-wide online distance education offerings as well as a quick admissions process.

In just two years, Georgia ONmyLINE has more than 90,000 visitors from 50 states and 140 countries.

Dr. Kris Biesinger, associate vice chancellor for Information and Instructional Technology (OIIT) Services, said the Web site has served more than 90,000 visitors from 50 states and 140 countries. She described it as a searchable catalog of online courses and programs offered by all 35 USG institutions statewide, the 35 programs and 1,600 courses offered online have now expanded to 169 programs and nearly 2,870 courses.

“As our enrollment growth in the University System continues to climb, we must be creative so that we can continue to serve our traditional student populations while being aggressive in serving currently underserved populations,” Biesinger said in summary. “USG institutions need to fully recognize the importance of delivering education in multiple formats and increase the integration of distance learning into their curricula."