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College of Human Ecology

Distance education provides learning for many

Friday, April 8, 2005

MANHATTAN -- Distance education caters to a different learning style than the traditional college classroom.

That's why Beth Unger, vice provost for academic services and technology and dean of Continuing Education at Kansas State University, said she thinks the popularity of distance education is growing. It is growing so much; in fact, that Unger said K-State now graduates about 200 students every year through distance education.

"Some find distance education an easier way to learn based on their learning style," Unger said. "Distance education is also gaining popularity because it offers students who can't fit a traditional college class into their schedule a chance to take classes at a time and location convenient for them.

"Individuals can begin or continue their educations while keeping their jobs," Unger said. "Distance education is meeting the needs of the public."

K-State offers more than 30 distance education degree and certificate programs.

Students can earn a bachelor's degree through distance education in the animal products option of animal sciences and industry, dietetics, early childhood education, the food business and operations management and science options of food science and industry, general business, interdisciplinary social science and technology management.

K-State also offers a program that provides assistance to individuals who have approximately two years of college and want to complete their bachelor's degree.

This is how Craig Wilson, a professional baseball player for the Chicago White Sox, finished his degree. Wilson played baseball at K-State and left in 1992 after finishing four years of a five-year program.

He returned in 2002 as a distance education student and graduated with a bachelor's degree in social science in May 2004.

"I wouldn't have been able to go back and live there to get my degree," Wilson said. "This is the only way I could have finished."

Students can earn a master's degree through distance education in agribusiness, chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, engineering management, mechanical engineering, software engineering, food science and industry, gerontology, industrial/organizational psychology, personal financial planning and youth development. Students can also earn a master's degree in classroom technology specialty with the completion of on-campus components.

K-State also offers many certificate and endorsement programs through distance education, including the following: academic advising graduate certificate, early childhood administration credential, early childhood endorsement, engineering professional development hours, ESL endorsement in elementary and secondary education, family and consumer sciences education licensure, food science graduate certificate, food science non-degree undergraduate certificate, gerontology, occupational health psychology certificate, personal financial planning certificate and youth development.

In May 2005, 27 graduate students from 18 states will be the first recipients of the graduate certificate in academic advising. This certificate, developed by K-State and the National Academic Advising Association, is an intensive graduate program offered online to those in the advising field, including graduate students, teaching faculty and professional advisers and administrators, as well as others interested in the field. The program focuses on academic advising theories and skills as well as a variety of other major concepts including career development, multicultural advising, student development and learning principles.

Unger said anyone interested in distance education at K-State can learn more about the degree and certificate programs available at http://www.dce.k-state.edu

As a land-grant university, Unger said it is K-State's responsibility to provide people with an educational opportunity.

"We have the responsibility to provide education to as many people as we can," Unger said. "With developments in technology, we can now do that in their homes or in their tractors or wherever. The population to be served by K-State is huge. My hope is that the distance education aspect of K-State will grow. A lot of K-State's enrollment growth in the future may come from distance education."

This article was posted on Friday, April 8, 2005, and is filed under College News.