Online courses prep tomorrow’s leaders

The pursuit of education is becoming an easier goal to achieve with the benefits of technology and opportunities presented by colleges and universities.

According to www.onlinecolleges.org, students looking to pursue degrees online can find courses at every level, from an associate to a doctorate degree at both private and public institutions.

Jeff Morgan, associate provost for education innovation and technology at the University of Houston, said that the campus has had a year-over-year increase in online student credit hours. In fall 2014 there was a 23 percent increase, with a 17 percent increase in spring 2015. Across their entire University of Houston System, there has been a year-over-year increase in both fall 2014 and spring 2015.

The primary benefit is flexibility, but also availability of courses and quality of instruction, Morgan said.

He also said data gathered by University of Houston indicates 50 percent of its students take at least one online course each semester.

“There are some students whose work or family schedules do not allow them to take all of their courses face to face,” Morgan said. “Only certain degrees are available entirely online, but the number is growing. There are a multitude of core courses and supporting courses that are available both face to face and online that are not part of online degree programs. Many degrees have numerous courses that are available both online and face to face, providing options for students who need flexibility or prefer online courses.”

Across the entire University of Houston System, there are more than 110 online degree programs and certificates.

Texas A&M University also is providing options for online courses, according to Joseph Sanchez, program coordinator in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at the university.

Links to programs are:

College of Education and Human Development: http://education.tamu.edu

College of Education: http://education.tamu.edu/degrees-and-programs/online-programs

Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture: http://tlac.tamu.edu/degrees-and-programs/online-education

Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program: http://tlac.tamu.edu/degrees-and-programs/graduate-program-areas/online-med-tesol-cohort

Rene E. Quiroz, Ph.D., coordinator of instructional design at Texas A&M, said numerous resources are made available to professors to develop online courses.

“Online courses are growing enormously,” Quiroz said. “We are having continual requests. They want the flexibility to take the class anywhere, anytime.”

Marshall Schott, Lone Star College associate vice chancellor – LSC Online, said that LSC continues to see rapid growth in demand and enrollment.

This type of learning reaches students at every level, Schott said.

“Online courses provide an opportunity to learn in a media-rich environment,” he said. “Online learning often includes discussion boards and elements akin to social media that promote interaction and engagement. Some learners thrive and have higher success rates in these kinds of environments.” LSC students can complete associate degrees online in 14 fields of study, or 17 certificate programs for those looking to gain specialized knowledge in an area without pursuing an associate degree. Students who take online courses take them within the semester structures that colleges and universities have in place for face-to-face courses.

For more details, go to the site www.lonestar.edu/lsc-online or www.uhsystem.edu/degree-programs/uh.

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