William Woods University expands into online community

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.”
 
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