William Woods University expands into online community
|12/19/2012||Mary Ann Beahon|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||(573) 592-1127|
William Woods University now provides more online opportunities, thereby meeting the needs of students while enhancing the learning environment and increasing WWU’s class options.
The university was approved by its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission, to provide general education courses and two complete online degree programs through distance education delivery.
One of the programs, a Master of Education degree in teaching and technology, will prepare teachers to effectively incorporate technology in the classroom.
The other program, a Bachelor of Science degree in interpretation studies in American Sign Language-English, is one of only two online degree-completion programs in the country and the only one from a long-established interpreting program.
“I have always taken pride in the progressive, changing, refusing-to-stay static nature of the William Woods community, and I believe we have, once again, aggressively moved forward,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said.
William Woods hired Mark Peterson as vice president of marketing and enrollment services. Enthusiastic about the future of the online programs at WWU, Peterson said:
“Taking our degree programs online helps us reach students who may otherwise not be able to attend. Our goal is to provide a world-class student experience, and every decision we make is centered on that goal. I am confident the future is very bright!”
Research validates that students want more delivery options when it comes to their education. With 75 percent of students employed while attending college, many students demand an option between classes regularly offered on campus during the day, multiple evening classes, hybrid classes, and online classes.
In giving her support to the online movement, Barnett quoted experts as saying, “Colleges that have focused on a four-year, traditional-aged residential model will find they need to attract more adult students, part-time students and more students who want online learning.”
Dr. Sherry McCarthy, vice president and dean of the undergraduate college, said, “Online classes allow students to have a choice that best fits into their lifestyles. They have the same objectives and assessments with online classes as they would have in the traditional face-to-face delivery method.”
Dr. Roger Wen, dean of the online campus, said “I enjoy online classes because I don’t have to be in a specific place at a set time of the day, but can be ‘in class’ no matter where I am. With the mobile computing devices we have available today, it makes learning and teaching much more convenient.”
In Wen’s online classes, he begins his first week introducing students to the learning platform they will be using and explaining the requirements of the course. Throughout the course, students review videos or articles and research topics through the wiki website linked to the class website.
Students are also required to submit a variety of assignments and participate in forum discussions to enhance their understanding. At the end of the course, Wen asks his students to participate in a video conference call to discuss content and demonstrate what was learned throughout the course.
As William Woods expands further into the online world, an advisory council of faculty and staff was appointed by the president to make sure the online classes meet requirements and reach their fullest potential. The advisory council is in charge of establishing the policy and standards for online learning.
“One of our goals as the faculty advisory council is to evaluate regular and adjunct faculty as to the content and interaction for online classes,” said Murphy Tetley, an advisory council member.
To achieve this goal, a rubric was developed by the faculty and WWU administrators as a guideline for faculty designing online courses. A team of subject matter experts (faculty and/or adjuncts) design the course based on the standards and best practices.
“Training is required for faculty and adjuncts in distance education delivery using distance delivery professional development. Every faculty member must go through web-based training modules that cover the technical aspects of using Moodle, the online learning system. They also have other modules on Best Practices in Teaching Online that help faculty engage students and make a course successful,” McCarthy said.
“Based on several meetings in the last few months, I am confident that we are on the right track,” Tetley said. “Even in the past few months new options have become available that did not exist a year ago. This allows us to employ newer, faster, smarter, less costly and easier to deploy online systems.”
General education courses presented online will be available to traditional and off-campus students, as well as non-WWU students who apply and are admitted specifically to the online programs.
WWU wants to serve all students who wish to enroll in courses in any delivery method that is convenient for them: online, off-campus evening, or on- campus traditional courses.
McCarthy said, “We’ve had online classes for about five years; now we’re providing more of a variety. We are pleased to now offer more unique programs, like Interpretation Studies in ASL-English, online for students who would like to attend William Woods but for whatever reason cannot.”
“It is another exciting time in our history,” Barnett said, “and while there are challenges before us, I am confident that adding more online options will greatly increase access to educational opportunities.”