Higher Ed Holdings Helps UTA Professors Expand Reach of Courses Online
Teachers Advance Careers with Accessible, Affordable, Online Degree Programs
By Dave Sorter
At the University of Texas at Arlington, administrators and faculty members are embracing online learning because of the way it fits students today.
“For us, it’s about meeting a need. It’s what students are demanding,” said Dr. Jeanne Gerlach, the university’s associate vice president of K-16 Initiatives and Dean of the College of Education. “Many students grew up using technology, and it’s the platform they want to use for their course work. We see some students (in online courses) who are much more tech savvy than even we are.”
UTA has been at the forefront of online learning through its participation in the University of Texas System’s TeleCampus program, but it broadened its distance-learning offerings this 2008-09 academic year by partnering with Higher Ed Holdings to help distribute UTA’s College of Education and College of Nursing degree programs.
The Dallas-based company delivers the university’s courses through high-quality production and chat-room capabilities that facilitate discussion among students and instructors. It also funds student support services including academic coaching and student recruitment.
UTA’s new online offerings at the education college have begun attracting students in the first semester and enrollment is expected to grow significantly as the word spreads, Gerlach said. “On line options provide access to people who can’t make it to campus” she added. “The world is changing; we must change with it.”
Work and family life make an on-campus university program untenable for a lot of working teachers, said Dr. Ann Cavallo, a UTA professor who designs and supervises the online courses at the education college. Travel also is an obstacle, especially for someone who works full-time trying to negotiate rush-hour traffic to get to class. Distance learners, on the other hand, have the flexibility that comes with being able to time-shift their studies. They can watch the video presentations when they want, work their assignments around their schedules and join discussions and chat rooms at their leisure.
“The online platform makes it extremely accessible; a lot of teachers cannot take on-campus courses for a variety of reasons, but they are able to take them online,” Cavallo said.
Equally important is affordability – especially in an economic downturn such as the one we are currently experiencing.
The new 18-month online degree programs at UTA costs classmates $4,950. The cost would be about double that amount if they took the class on campus. And it’s even more of a bargain compared to for-profit providers like the University of Phoenix, which is three to four times more for a master’s in curriculum and instruction.
“That’s one of the beauties of these programs,” Gerlach said. “Students have had access issues, but affordability is a greater issue.”
According to Measuring Up 2008, a report by the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, college tuition continues to outpace family income and the price of necessities such as medical …