About 5.4 million students, or one in four, took at least one distance education course during the fall of 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Almost a million students enrolled exclusively in distance education courses at private, for-profit institutions that term, with 35 percent of all students enrolled solely online. Arkansas’ colleges and universities have invested heavily in online options to meet current and future demand, as illustrated on the following pages.
ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY-BEEBE
The Online College offers students the opportunity to earn a variety of degrees, some completely online while others are a combination of online, Internet-assisted, and/or traditional classes. The Online College offers several degrees that can be earned 100 percent online. These include Associate of General Studies, Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts, Associate of Science in Liberal Arts and Sciences, Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems, Associate of Science in Education, Associate of Science in Business, Associate of Science in Criminal Justice, Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice and an Associate of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education.
ARKANSAS STATE UNIVERSITY
A-State Online is the university’s online campus and its 25 programs represent the most in-demand degrees and certificates in its catalogue. Courses offered online are the same as the courses on campus, resulting in the same degree earned through face-to-face classes on the physical campus.
Arkansas State University currently supports more than 3,000 students nationwide through A-State Online, facilitating a combination of instruction, self-study and peer-to-peer interaction in an online learning network. A-State Online students interact with classmates though chat, video conferencing, phone calls, email, social media, bulletin boards and more.
All online programs are developed and evaluated with the goal of providing students a curriculum that focuses on their future career based on the latest industry trends and an engaging and diverse network of peers. Courses are taught by highly respected and expert faculty members and supported by academic advisers and help-desk support.
COLLEGE OF THE OUACHITAS
The College’s accredited Associate of Arts degree is available in its entirety online. The college first began offering online instruction in 1997 and continually adds courses to its online curriculum. Flexibility is the number one advantage for online options, including both time flexibility and location flexibility. Students can eliminate travel time and study in their pajamas at home if they so choose. The family-work-life balance is easier to achieve with online classes.
EAST ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Distance learning courses are offered through every academic department, attracting traditional college students between the ages of 18 and 25, non-traditional students such as working adults with families and high school students taking college level courses to get a jump start on their college studies. EACC’s online courses utilize Internet-based technologies such as e-mail, web pages and other online collaboration tools. Students can access course materials online, take exams, receive online tutoring, and communicate with the instructor via the Internet.
Business, math, allied health and humanities distance learning courses have been offered at EACC for over 10 years and the school has recently been approved to offer an Associate of Arts degree fully online. The number of online course offerings increases each semester. Hybrid courses are also offered, which allows students to attend traditional classes, with a portion of the course delivered online. Lecture capture technology allows our instructors to place live lectures within the content of an online or hybrid class. Students may also use this technology to learn and share ideas in groups.
Similarly, online instructors have the benefit of experimenting with new technologies in our Distance Learning Resource Lab. This lab was created specifically for full-time and adjunct faculty use. The Distance Learning Resource Lab provides an avenue to allow instructors to test new, innovative technologies for use in their online classrooms.
HENDERSON STATE UNIVERSITY
Henderson State University has been offering courses with online components since the late 1990s and has grown to offer 10 degree and licensure programs in a fully online format. Many other courses throughout the university are offered fully or partially online as well. Technology-leveraged learning in all its modes —fully online, hybrid, and enhanced—aims to increase both access and flexibility, while maintaining a high degree of quality instruction.
Students can take advantage of multiple access points for Henderson courses which are administered through a learning management system, a collaborate tool for synchronous classrooms, a lecture capture option, publisher-provided interactive e-learning and text book modules, on-demand video and other digital resources from the library.
Henderson State has established an instructional designer position within the Instructional Technology Office which supports Henderson faculty as they leverage technology to create a broader range of learning opportunities for students, across multiple instructional modalities. The Instructional Technology staff also works hand-in-hand with the faculty-led Teaching and Learning Center to provide training and ongoing faculty development.
JOHN BROWN UNIVERSITY
JBU’s online programs are a flexible means for working adults to earn a degree. Online courses offer students the convenience of access to quality academic course material and instruction, while learning in their preferred location and environment. JBU offers online bachelor’s degree programs in business administration, liberal arts, management, accounting and psychology, as well as master’s degree programs in leadership and ethics (MBA), international business (MBA), collaborative design (MFA), leadership and ethics (MS) and higher education (MA). JBU also offers various online courses in graduate counseling, as well as undergraduate courses.
NATIONAL PARK COLLEGE
The college offers a variety of e-learning options, including web-enhanced face-to-face instruction, blended coursework combining online and traditional instruction and fully online classes. These options have been available for more than a decade and new courses are being developed continuously. All forms of e-learning are provided through Blackboard.
Fully online classes provide students with flexibility to attend classes on their own schedule; blended classes free students’ schedules by reducing the amount of time they must come to campus for class, and web-enhanced classes provide more interaction and support for students and allow the instructor to respond to student needs as they arise.
NPC has developed an innovative Blackboard Student Training program that is required for all students to complete prior to starting courses at the college. Faculty is required to have a Blackboard presence; at minimum with syllabus, grades, attendance and a link to library resources. The school has developed a student-friendly course template creating a uniform environment for all students across campus.
NORTHWEST ARKANSAS COMMUNITY COLLEGE
NWACC’S extensive online program offers more than 110 different classes and four degree programs fully online and five additional hybrid degree programs that are 95 percent online. The school began offering online classes in 2000. All online credit classes at NWACC are fully accredited and transferable to other higher education institutions.
All NWACC students may take classes on campus, online or both, an attractive option for busy non-traditional adult students. Most online classes are administered through Blackboard. The college also offers many student and academic support services online including tech support, online tutoring, proctored testing, library services and the campus bookstore.
NWACC continues to refine its distance learning offerings with more engaging multimedia content and upgrades to the learning management system. Online classes comprise nearly 25 percent of course offerings in the Spring and Fall terms, and nearly 90 percent of graduates have taken at least one online class.
PULASKI TECHNICAL COLLEGE
Online courses at Pulaski Technical College are facilitated by instructors and follow the semester schedule’s beginning and ending dates. Online courses, including hybrid courses, web-enhanced programs and webinars, are designed to give students access to quality education at a convenient time and location.
Online courses at PTC are delivered through a variety of course management systems. These course management systems provide instructors and students with access to course content, assignments, discussion boards, mail, chat rooms, whiteboards, quizzes and exams. Pulaski Tech supports distance learning through Blackboard.
Students access the full range of digital services through MyPTC portal. All PTC students receive a Pulaski Technical College e-mail address, which is required for all communications with the school and instructors. Updates regarding classes, registration, financial aid, campus events and more are also communicated through the campus email.
SOUTHERN ARKANSAS UNIVERSITY
SAU has 13 fully online programs; its first fully online program was approved by the Higher Learning Commission in September, 2005. Academic departments provide oversight and management of program content and delivery providing a more satisfying student experience.
The Online Student Primer provides students an in-depth introduction to becoming a successful online learner. In addition, SAU provides a self-paced Blackboard orientation, giving students the opportunity to test drive an online course before taking a real online course.
SAU provides a webpage resource for students to access instructions, technical requirements, support resources and Blackboard tutorials. Information Technology Services provides an in-house help desk during normal working hours. AELearn is the 24/7 Blackboard help desk solution that assists students and faculty with technical issues. E-advising services are available and can be requested via an online form.
The Tutoring Center uses the web-based online tutoring program, Net-tutor. The SAU Writing Center offers face-to-face hours and online support for students. Magale Library’s Online and Distance Student Resources and Services webpage provides access to electronic journals, newspapers, books and other materials. Magale also provides online instructional video tutorials on how to get started researching, locating and using resources.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS-FAYETTEVILLE
At the University of Arkansas Global Campus, a team of instructional designers, academic technologists, media-production specialists and specialists in a range of learning technologies have supported development and delivery of the university’s catalog of online programs. As a result, the U of A has developed 30 bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degree programs either completely or primarily delivered online, as well as certificate and licensure programs across a variety of academic colleges and schools on the Fayetteville campus.
The number of students studying exclusively online has grown to 2,746 during the 2015-16 school year, up from 1,216 in 2013, and more than 12,800 students were taking at least one online class during the 2015-16 school year. Students who study online take courses from the same academic departments that offer degree programs on the Fayetteville campus and have access to the same academic resources and support.
The university continually enhances its technology and teaching strategies to enrich learning environments. Among the innovations is investment in the Tesseract Center for Immersive Environments and Game Design, animated graphics to present complex concepts like chemical reactions and supply-chain management and video services to bring lectures to students in a virtual environment.
The U of A realigned the Global Campus as a support unit in 2012 to enhance and expand online, distance and workforce education. This realignment and the commitment of the academic colleges and schools to produce online offerings enables the U of A to better meet the needs of its students, today and in the future.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS- FORT SMITH
Online course offerings numbered 186 last fall and 201 last spring; since offering its first online courses 16 years ago, the program has grown to offer five fully-online undergraduate and one master’s program. The school’s RN to BSN program was the first program to be offered 100 percent online.
Distance learning courses are delivered via Blackboard. Students can access library resources, chat with other students, faculty and academic advisors and take quizzes and exams from a distance. Constantly evolving, the school is in the process of implementing all of the Blackboard technology modules which include Blackboard Collaborate, allowing web conferencing and instant messaging and Blackboard mobile, designed specifically to help students react quickly to changes in the course.
Thanks to the online programs supported by UAFS, the large percentage of the UAFS students with full-time jobs and family responsibilities can fulfill their dreams of acquiring a baccalaureate degree while maintaining full-time employment status by taking their courses during their less-busy hours.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK
A pioneer in the area of online learning, UALR today offers more than 450 online courses each semester and at a reduced rate. Online courses may also allow students to work through to a degree at a faster pace than the traditional university courses. The majority of students at UALR have a mix of traditional classes and online courses. UALR Online regularly expands offerings from 10 fully-online degree and certificate programs to 19 effective in Fall 2016.
One advantage to UALR’s system is that it allows fully-online students the option of visiting the physical campus if the student wants to meet with a professor, gain career mentoring or use library resources on campus. UALR’s Ottenheimer Library works closely with UALR online students to provide access to important databases within various disciplines for research and, via the library reciprocity program, affords online students library privileges in other parts of the state.
The Office of Scholarly Technology and Resources (STaR) provides tremendous support for navigating a course online, testing and submitting assignments. STaR also provides hands-on training for faculty dealing with course design and tips for teaching online. UALR holds an Academy for Online Teaching Excellence, an opportunity for faculty to not only learn details of technology and design, but to share ideas and venture to innovative areas within their discipline online.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO
UAM’s distance learning programs are National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accredited and approved by the Arkansas Department of Education. Courses are taught by experts who have practical experience in the subject matter. All programs are 100 percent online with no residency requirement.
The catalog of courses includes three bachelor, 15 master’s and six endorsement programs administered by UAM’s Instructional Technology department which supports both students and faculty. Online courses have been a part of the curriculum since 1998, and today utilize the latest version of Blackboard. The course management system enables mass notification to students and staff, group collaborative projects with voice and visual interaction, mobile learning from anywhere and data analytics to better facilitate student success. Data analytics helps faculty monitor student progress and students have greater access to learning tools.
New online curriculum is being developed constantly, both blended and entirely online, and include collaborative efforts such as eVersity, with the University of Arkansas. UAM’s experience and technical expertise enhances both teaching and learning by nontraditional working adults who benefit from the graduate programs, as well as traditional-age students who enjoy the flexibility of asynchronous classes.
UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF
Advantages of UAPB’s e-learning system include flexibility, engagement and innovation. Online courses are administered through the learning management system Blackboard Learn and give students more ways to engage their instructors and peers. Several departments from among the five schools at the university offer online courses.
Mobile Learn is designed to assist in developing a total learning experience with greater potential to improve quality of teaching and student success overall. An intuitive learning management system, it allows flexibility along with asynchronous learning. Mobile Learn allows students to remain actively involved in extracurricular activities and stay connected to learning by accessing, reviewing and submitting assignments on the go.
Through this innovative technology UAPB engages more students in exciting new ways, reaching them on their terms and devices and connecting more effectively. Keeping students informed, involved and collaborating together builds a better education experience by allowing the university to reach people on their preferred devices anywhere and by opening up technology and removing barriers to improve performance in real time.