University of Georgia Continues to Expand Online Course Offerings

The University of Georgia is planning on expanding its online programs to allow for more adults to continue their education, as well as for current students to graduate at a faster rate.

"Online education enables students to make progress toward their degrees while pursuing internships, studying abroad or spending time at home with family over the summer," said Pamela Whitten, senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. "It also expands the reach of our programs to make them available to people who want a UGA education but can't relocate because of their careers or family obligations."

According to the UGA Office of Institutional Research, students who take advantage of online course offerings tend to be more motivated. These are the students who graduate within four years, come to college with Advanced Placement credits, and use the online courses to get ahead allowing them to graduate in a three-year timespan.

In its first year, 2013, 1,900 students enrolled in summer online courses. This year, an additional 32% more students have enrolled, with still more expected.

The Online Learning Fellows program may have had a hand in this growth. The program "was launched in 2013 to provide faculty with the training and support to design, develop and teach high-quality online courses," creating 56 new summer courses. Future endeavors will include using free, open-educational resources in an effort to reduce student costs, hopefully attracting even more students, according to an article written for The Athens Banner-Herald.

In a recent press release on the school's online newspaper, Columns, the director of the school's Office of Online Learning, Keith Bailey, said of the program:

"The program is a two-semester process this year, with the idea that it takes two semesters to develop a high-quality online course," Bailey said. "We have a set of milestones that need to be accomplished throughout the year, and each course will go through a really strong, quality design review."

In addition, the school will also be working with faculty to create blended courses, allowing students to view lectures online and work more actively in the classroom.

Seven new online graduate programs will be offered beginning this fall, including an Online Master of Internet Technology degree, which will allow working professionals the opportunity to update their skills and advance their careers in a two-year program.

Another degree comes from the school's College of Business, which is currently accepting applications for a new online Bachelor of Business Administration Program set to launch in January 2015. The program will admit 40 students per semester. By completing two courses each semester, the typical student will graduate within three years. The program is geared toward full-time employees and military personnel.

"This program is designed for individuals who are looking to gain the managerial and analytical skills needed to climb the career ladder," said Benjamin C. Ayers, dean of the Terry College. "The online format provides a more flexible schedule while still giving students access to the high-quality faculty and resources that we have at the University of Georgia."

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