Distance and online education is one of the fastest growing sectors of higher education. According to The 2013 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, over 7.1 million students nationwide were taking at least one online course during the fall 2012 term, an increase of 411,000 students from the previous year. Thirty-three percent of all US higher education students are taking at least one online course.
Aligned with national trends, the North Dakota University System has also experienced growth in distance education. The NDUS fall enrollment report showed a 7.9% increase in distance education (online and Interactive Video Network) headcount enrollment from Fall 2012 to Fall 2013, and 43.7 percent of students were enrolled in at least one online course that year. Online courses provide opportunities for working, parenting, or location-bound students to access the same high-quality education delivered face-to-face at campuses.
The State Board of Higher Education’s new strategic plan, The NDUS Edge, recognizes that North Dakota students are looking for more versatile educational options. Distance education plays a role in achieving multiple plan goals including “Provide programs people want, where and when they need them” and “Maximize the strengths of the unified system.”
Recently, Tanya Spilovoy, NDUS director of distance education and state authorization, attended the 20th Annual Online Learning Consortium and participated in the Institute for Engaged Leadership in Online Learning to tap into the latest strategies for online student success, leadership and emerging technologies. Hot topics in online learning include open educational resources, Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) standards which save students money on licensing costs, online exam proctoring, adaptive learning, instructional design, and online course quality review standards. Building on her dissertation research regarding student retention in the online environment, Spilovoy is able to work with distance education leaders at all 11 NDUS campuses to share best practices, stay current on state and federal regulations, and share new research and technology.
“Increasing the skilled workforce in North Dakota is an important priority for the system and our state. Online education breaks down the barriers to higher education and allows more students access to education than ever before,” said Spilovoy. “By keeping abreast of the newest developments in online learning, we are able to tailor online courses to boost student understanding and help equip them to succeed.”
NDUS students are able to take online courses from any NDUS institution as a collaborative student, and transfer that coursework into their respective program of study. The NDUS system office and institutions are working together to give students access and meet their goals with distance education.
For more information about distance and online education, contact Spilovoy at Tanya.firstname.lastname@example.org or at 701.224.2498.