University introduces new platform for distance education
All of the University of Nebraska’s online education programs can now be accessed at a single location thanks to the University’s introduction of a new Web platform called Online Worldwide.
Online Worldwide – www.nebraska.edu/online – offers more than 80 accredited programs, including bachelor’s and advanced degrees as well as certificates and endorsements, and more than 1,000 courses in a wide range of fields, including agriculture, biology, business, computer science, education, engineering, journalism, public administration and many more.
By marketing all of NU’s distance programs together under one virtual “roof,” Online Worldwide will better serve Nebraskans looking to further their education and will allow the university to capture a larger share of the rapidly growing national and international market for online learning, NU President James B. Milliken said.
“Online Worldwide offers a tremendous opportunity to students who want a high-quality, affordable education from a reputable institution such as the University of Nebraska,” Milliken said. “Our distance education courses are taught by the same award-winning faculty who teach in classrooms on our campuses – ensuring that students in Nebraska and around the world have access to challenging, relevant curricula developed by experts in their fields.”
Milliken noted that a recent study by the Sloan Consortium found that 1 in 4 college students took at least one course online in fall 2008 – a 17 percent increase over the previous year. Students at the University of Nebraska generated more than 93,000 credit hours online in 2009-2010, up from 67,000 in 2008-2009 – a 30 percent increase.
But there is a broader market to be tapped that extends well beyond campus borders, Milliken said.
“More than 255,000 Nebraskans have completed some college but have not earned a degree,” he said. “Distance learning is a great solution for those Nebraskans. It gives them a chance to become more competitive in today’s job market, increase their earning power and improve their quality of life – all while continuing to balance work, family and other obligations.”
“Furthermore, all of Nebraska benefits when we increase the educational attainment of our citizens,” Milliken added.
Demand for online learning also is growing worldwide because of the convenience of Web-based programs and the increased importance of postsecondary education in today’s knowledge-driven workforce. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a person with a bachelor’s degree will earn $1 million more over a lifetime than a person with only a high school diploma. Also, a December 2009 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that jobs that require postsecondary education will account for nearly half of all new jobs from 2008 to 2018 and one-third of total job openings in that time period.
President Obama has set a goal for America to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. This aligns with state goals to increase Nebraska’s college-going rate and provide affordable access to higher education to more Nebraskans, Milliken said.
“Online Worldwide is one way in which the University of Nebraska is working to make a bachelor’s degree or an advanced degree available to many more people,” he said.
One degree available through Online Worldwide, a Master of Public Administration, has been offered online by the University of Nebraska at Omaha since 2000. It is the recognized graduate degree for professional positions in the public and nonprofit sectors, said John Bartle, professor of public affairs and director of the School of Public Administration at UNO.
“UNO’s online MPA offers the same high-quality curriculum as on campus,” Bartle said. “Courses are small and highly interactive, and are taught by full-time faculty who are leading scholars with extensive practitioner experience. This degree is the pathway to a career focused on solving public problems and managing public and nonprofit organizations effectively.”
Online Worldwide also offers a number of standout educational programs, including a highly competitive Ph.D. program in educational administration.
“The educational degree programs, certificates and endorsements available through Online Worldwide will help prepare the next generation of education leaders – teachers, principals and administrators,” said Larry Dlugosh, professor and chair of the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“These high-quality, affordable programs are ideal for those who want to learn new skills and advance their careers while continuing to balance other obligations. Online learning is perfectly attuned to the needs of 21st-century leaders.”
Online Worldwide is the result of several years of extensive study and collaboration by a university-wide Distance Education Coordinating Committee and the Educational Marketing Group, located in Denver, Colo. EMG produced a report, shared with the Board of Regents in January 2009, that said the university had a major opportunity to grow its distance learning enterprise. Among the recommendations of EMG and the coordinating committee was that NU market all its distance programs under a single University of Nebraska brand.
An aggressive marketing campaign for Online Worldwide is now underway, with plans to spread awareness in local, regional, national and international markets.
For the future, Online Worldwide will evolve to meet workforce needs, adding new programs as necessary, according to Director Arnold Bateman.
“The University of Nebraska is committed to growing a talented, competitive workforce in Nebraska, and expanding our distance education offerings is one way we can do this,” Bateman said.