What a difference a year makes

A year ago, the university was still finding its way toward enhancing distance learning. Some of our faculty members were still deciding what roles they would play and the directions they would take. The campus was working toward the adoption of Proctor U for online student identification authentication, and many panels and focus groups were discussing how we could increase the number of online degrees. We were hoping the faculty would support two new undergraduate degrees from Walton and Fulbright colleges.

What a difference a year makes. The College of Engineering now offers courses through its STEM prep program at community colleges in Arkansas, and we have worked with faculty to submit two grants related to online education amounting to almost $1.6 million. (STEM is short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.)

We are sponsoring Quality Matters workshops every fall and spring semester, and we are co-sponsoring with the Teaching and Faculty Support Center and University Information Technology Services a new enrichment series for faculty. The university will launch the new online degree in business in fall 2014, and soon afterwards it will begin offering a bachelor’s degree from Fulbright College.

What a difference a year of hard work and close communication with faculty makes!!

I gave a presentation at a conference, New Directions in Online Learning, about how the university is incorporating online education into the whole ecosystem of our university. Working on every dimension, from recruiting to graduation, passing through admission, retention and advising, all the while becoming a Razorback for a lifetime!

We want to provide academic opportunities for students who want to study online and to support online students with the same type of student services and resources available to on-campus students. These include providing access to tutoring, the Creative Writing Center, the library system and career services.

We want to tie on-campus research initiatives around online learning, empower the best and most enthusiastic to innovate and engage graduate and teaching assistants in online learning.

Colleges are working to provide graduate, undergraduate and certificate programs, using different class delivery modes: face to face, 100 percent online, hybrid and blended. The goal is to provide offerings for non-traditional students away from campus, non-traditional students on campus, on-campus students with scheduling conflicts, and on-campus students who want a campus experience.

Yes, what a difference a year makes, but it is all because of the collaborative infrastructure that is fostered at the University of Arkansas by everyone in different units across campus. All of us know what it means to put ALL students first and how different paths can lead to the same results.

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