Online learning is on the rise in the Wichita area as colleges and universities are embracing the need for more user-friendly courses. Wichita State University, Friends University and Newman University are seeing an increase in online enrollment.
Butler Community College has seen a 16 percent increase in enrollment this year, with double-digit increases in each of the past three years, said Meg McGranaghan, director of Butler’s online learning. The college has 4,000 students worldwide taking up to 7,500 online class positions.
“Online education is incredibly popular, consistently showing the largest growth area,” said Tiffany Sowa, director of Cowley online, where she said online enrollment has grown 30 percent in the past two years. “The convenience of accessing your classes anytime, combined with the varying start dates and class length, make online education anywhere highly desirable.”
At Hutchinson Community College, about 2,770 students are enrolled in online classes, a number than has been on the rise for several years, said Linda Seabaugh, Hutchinson Community College online student specialist.
“We’ve found a lot of students really appreciate online classes because it cuts down on expenses such as gas,” she said. “Plus, a lot of students can work and do class when they can. Online is so flexible.”
While some schools were unable to provide exact numbers of online enrollment, reported seeing an increase for online classes during the fall semester.
Here’s a breakdown of what’s new in online learning for local colleges and how to get started or return to school by taking online classes.
Baker University, 618 Eighth St., Baldwin City
• Online programs: Baker offers graduate and undergraduate online programs in business, as well as graduate classes in education and liberal arts.
• What’s new: “We have expanded our market and therefore our opportunity,” said Michelle Case, Baker’s executive director of enrollment. “Now students don’t have to be within driving distance to take classes.”
Case said students from across the country — including those deployed with the military — are taking online courses though Baker.
• What’s popular: It depends on the semester, but business is usually a hot option — especially for students wanting to double-major.
“At Baker, we have ensured that whether you take a course on ground or online, it is the same course, just taught a different way,” Case said. “We want all students to have the same learning experience though both online and traditional classes.”
• For more information, visit www.bakeru.edu.
Bethel College, 300 27th St., North Newton
• Online programs: Bethel offers some general-education courses online.
• What’s new: “Bethel is adding an RN (registered nurse) to BSN (Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing) degrees, with the first classes stating in the Fall of 2012,” said Lori Livengood, Bethel’s vice president for marketing and communication. “Format for these classes will be either hybrid model or all-online eight-week courses.”
• For more information, visit www.bethelks.edu.
Butler Community College, 901 S. Haverhill Road, El Dorado
• Online programs: Butler offers associate degrees in arts and applied sciences entirely online with one exception: a speech class that meets a select amount of times during the semester. Butler also teams with Emporia State and Kansas State universities to offer degree completion programs, which allow students to get selected degrees online without ever setting foot on the main campus. Butler offers 368 sections purely online and more than 80 blended online/traditional classes, McGranaghan said.
• What’s new: Like other local colleges, Butler is constantly adding classes to keep up with demands. Butler uses Symbaloo, a program that allows professors to use Web 2.0 tools in their online classes.
“Everything is more engaging,” McGranaghan said. “Students don’t have to listen to a three-hour lecture video anymore. They can learn what they need to learn through nuggets of information. Teachers can put their voices to PowerPoints, and students can replay the slide they don’t understand over and over while listening to the teachers help.”
• What’s popular: Professors are using YouTube to present information, McGranaghan said.
“They can post a video of a select problem, work it out and explain it, allowing students to watch the one problem over and over until they understand it,” she said.
• For more information, visit www.butlercc.edu.
Cowley College, 125 S. Second St., Arkansas City
• Online programs: Cowley has several certificates and degrees that students can obtain entirely online, including those in accounting, criminal justice, leadership, medical coding and transcription and sociology, Sowa said.
• What’s new: Cowley has begun using e-textbooks on tablets, as well as blended classes, which give the students some online and in-person coursework.
• What’s popular: General-education classes draw students statewide.
• For more information, visit www.cowley.edu.
Emporia State University, 1200 Commercial St., Emporia
Online programs: Emporia offers most of its online programs at a graduate level, with select bachelor’s degree programs online. About 17 graduate programs are completely online, said Kathy Ermler, dean of graduate and distance learning. Emporia has 2,100 students, mostly graduate students, enrolled in online classes for the spring 2012 semester.
• What’s new: “We’ve been doing online since 1996, and, each year, we add more programs online, as well as look at the quality of the classes to discover what students need to succeed online,” Ermler said. Emporia added four programs to its online options this year.
• What’s popular: The Butler/Emporia Students to Teachers program through community schools is a huge draw, Ermler said. Through the program, students who complete an associate degree at a local school can complete a degree in education or business online.
• For more information, visit www.emporia.edu.
Friends University, 2100 W. University Ave., Wichita
• Online programs: Friends has four graduate programs fully online with two other programs requiring short residencies, as well as a vast array of general education courses.
• What’s new: Friends recently switched to a program called Moodle that allows online classes to be more user-friendly.
“Moodle is more organic,” said Jim Maddox, professor and director of science and development. “It allows us more flexibility to adapt to special classes. Students can access via tablets or phones and go to class from anywhere.”
• What’s popular: The master’s programs for business, teaching and health care leadership have the most enrollment, said Jeremy Gallegos, associate dean for college of adult and professional studies.
• For more information, visit www.friends.edu.
Hutchinson Community College, 1300 North Plum, Hutchinson
• Online programs: Hutchinson offers associate degrees in arts and sciences online, as well as majors in business and accounting. Hutchinson offers a variety of class times to make it easier for students, including 16-week classes and 8-week classes, with different classes starting every month.
• What’s new: “We continue to add more online courses all the time. We have a new paralegal program online as well,” Seabaugh said.
• What’s popular: Enrollment for virtually every online department is up.
• For more information, visit www.hutchcc.edu.
Kansas State University, 116 Ackert Hall, Manhattan
• Online programs: KSU has many master’s and bachelor’s degree programs online.
“Our effort is to encourage people to be a part of the campus but know that people have lives, jobs and businesses,” said Sue Maes, dean of continuing education. “Thanks to distance learning and working with local schools, we can offer degree completion programs to help every Kansan be an educated Kansan.”
Maes said that 2,300 KSU students are taking online-only classes while 5,675 are enrolled in both online and traditional classes.
• What’s new: “KSU is constantly updating professors on new technology and teaching them how to use online tools and social media better in their classes,” Maes said. “We encourage professors of online classes to be more than a talking head by just putting up a video or PowerPoint.”
KSU is working to get several more undergraduate and master’s programs fully online.
• What’s popular: Distance education programs are popular. Students can complete a degree entirely online though KSU without being on campus. Students seek out degrees not available anywhere else in Kansas, including bioenergy and agriculture business.
• For more information, visit www.k-state.edu.
Newman University, 3100 McCormick St. Wichita
• Online programs: “We don’t offer general-education courses online because so many are already offered in the area,” said Michael Austin, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We have more specific programs online, such as theology.”
Newman has about 100 students online, but the program is gaining popularity annually, he said.
• What’s new: Newman is now using podcasts to relay online course information so that students can access their classes via phone or tablet.
• What’s popular: “We offer three programs fully online or online with weekend meetings. Our RN to BSN and business sections are popular. We try to duplicate what you’d get at the physical university online,” Austin said.
• For more information, visit www.newmanu.edu.
Tabor College, 400 S. Jefferson, Hillsboro
• Online programs: BSN and master’s in education, as well as general-education summer classes.
• What’s new: “Our Master’s of education is gaining popularity,” said Dorothy Deckert, director of marketing and enrollment at Tabor.
• What’s popular: “Tabor’s RN-to-BSN degree program is very popular,” she said. “This degree can be obtained in 18 months with their choice of online or on-campus.”
• For more information, visit www.tabor.edu.
Southwestern College, 100 College St., Winfield
• Online programs: Southwestern offers 10 graduate programs and 19 undergraduate programs online. The classes are offered in six-week sessions and have an accelerated graduation time.
The college has 1,000 students online and 900 who attend the main campus, said Pamela Momaco, vice president of professional studies.
• What’s new: The college started a new master’s degree program in accounting, as well as a few other programs, Momaco said. Southwestern will offer its first doctorate in school administration this summer.
• What’s popular: Business degrees online are the most popular, she said. The theology master’s also is gaining popularity, as well as psychology.
• For more information, visit www.sckans.edu.
University of Kansas, 1502 Iowa Street, Lawrence
• Online programs: “We offer mostly general education, as well as specialized programs and online programs,” said Julie Loats, director for online and distance learning at KU. “We also have switched many of our traditional courses to a more blended type.”
The university reports having more than 2,200 students taking more than 200 online courses this semester. That’s about a 200 student increase from fall, Loats said.
• What’s new: KU is working with local campuses around the state to offer more distance opportunities for students wanting degrees from KU without having to attend the main campus. It’s also looking at the relationship with active military who can’t come to campus. According to Loats, KU hopes to expand some programs to be fully online in both graduate and undergraduate areas so students from anywhere can complete their degrees online. The university hopes to have these programs up and running in the next few years.
• What’s popular: “We had 100 students take a class called environmental studies last semester,” Loats said. “The sections for that class are always at full capacity, with a waiting list every year.”
• For more information, visit www.ku.edu.
Vatterott College, 8853 E. 37th St. North, Wichita
• Online programs: “We offer medical billing and coding associate’s, business management, medical assistant mixed online and on-campus, as well as info systems,” said Mike Harris, Vatterott campus director. “Some programs are not offered in-building, but students can use its resources.”
• What’s new: Vatterott Wichita is now offering heating and ventilation programs, as well as electrician program and computer tech programming.
• What’s popular: “Medical billing and coding and business management programs are popular because people can do the courses entirely online from their home,” Harris said.
For more information, visit www.vatterott-college.edu.
Wichita Area Technical College, 4004 N. Webb, Wichita
• Online programs: WATC started its program in 2008 with 500 credit hours offered and now offer 5,000 credit hours online in general education and technical classes. It also offers aircraft-oriented online degrees.
WATC has around 1,650 students enrolled this semester.
• What’s new: “Next year, we’re rolling out more programs, such as health sciences,” said Shane Hilt, campus coordinator of academic affairs. “We will also be incorporating Flash technology into our classes.”
• What’s popular: “General-education classes are the most popular classes,” he said. “Students can take them and transfer to other schools or continue here at WATC.”
• For more information, visit www.watc.edu.
Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount St., Wichita
Online programs: WSU offers an array of general-education classes, as well as several graduate and undergraduate classes online.
• What’s new: “We are increasing some areas we already offer classes in, as well as adding a master’s in criminal justice and aging studies,” said Keith Pickus, interim provost. “We are also offering a bachelor’s in nursing and master’s in teaching online.”
• What’s popular: “We have the greatest concentration of courses in criminal justice, RN-to-BSN and master’s in criminal justice,” Pickus said.
• For more information, visit www.wichita.edu.
Wright Career College, 7700 E. Kellogg in Towne East Mall, Wichita
The college, which arrived to Wichita in April 2011, offers associate and bachelor’s degrees in business, technical and medical areas. It has 400 students and plans to launch its online learning division on March 12.
For more information, visit wrightcareercollege.com.