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OnlineMastersPrograms.Org recently ranked Sam Houston State University’s Master of Education in Administration program #36 in the nation among their “Best Online Education Master’s Programs” category.

According to OnlineMastersPrograms.Org’s ranking methodology, thousands of programs were assessed across the nation, but only 46 programs made the cut, meeting the below assessments:

rankings-badgeOur rankings methodology begins with two crucial factors: The school’s commitment to consistently rewarding degrees and The school’s commitment to online graduate education.

From there, we confirmed that the school offered the following services, as reported by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS):

  • Academic/Career Counseling Service
  • Employment Services for Students
  • Placement Services for Completers

These services are the essential indicator that a school understands how to bridge the gap between their online master’s programs and the working world. Any school lacking in these basic services was not included in our final list.

SHSU Online is proud to receive this recognition, and congratulates the Department of Educational Leadership for the achievement.

View the complete rankings of OnlineMastersPrograms.Org’s Best Online Education Master’s Programs at http://www.onlinemastersprograms.org/best-education-programs/.

The online Doctorate of Education in Instructional Technology degree is a unique program that prepares students to be leaders in merging technology with learning.

“This program consists of a unique collaborative curriculum between the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Computer Science Department, offering a meaningful blend of technical application and instructional theory,” says Marilyn Rice, Ph.D., doctoral director of the Doctorate in Instructional Technology program.

Faculty in the Instructional Technology program have been pioneers in the online teaching and learning environment, having taught elements of courses online dating back to 1999.

shutterstock_154665698“The program follows the cohort model, where students move through the coursework together,” says Rice. “Having used this approach for many years in other programs, we find that the cohorts help develop an atmosphere of a cohesive classroom culture even though all courses are online.”

By completing the program entirely online, students are able to pursue their degree without the having to relocate due to the restrictions of residency requirements

Dr. Rice says the experience and enthusiasm of online learning is evident in the Doctorate of Education in Instructional Technology program, utilizing a variety of online learning resources.

“We’ve found the communication and collaboration opportunities among people from various walks of life and cultures provides a secondary level of learning for our students that is not attainable in most face-to-face programs,” says Rice.

Graduates of the program are poised for success in a variety of applications, such as leaders of instructional technology, guiding their organizations toward achieving meaningful integration of technology, or as instructional technology leaders working in school districts, community colleges, universities, or businesses in support and service roles regarding instructional design, assessment of learning/management systems, networking, and assessment/implementation of instructional software.

Applications for the program are due June 1.

For more information about the online Doctorate of Education in Instructional Technology degree visit http://distance.shsu.edu.

More than 90 percent of SHSU’s online students live and work in Texas, with more scattered around the US, and a few who live even farther afield, like SHSU Online student Tony Tovar who is pursuing a principal certification.

For the past 12 years, Tony Tovar has made Shanghai, China his home with wife Yun Yang and daughter Noelle, teaching sixth grade language arts, history, and drama at Concordia International School Shanghai.

Tovar admits that his early college years weren’t very focused.

“I basically majored in Ping-Pong, pool, and sleeping,” says Tovar. He took three years off before returning to school with a much more serious outlook, one that eventually led him to education.

“I started out as a communication major, switched to English, and then decided to add secondary education as a fallback, and I discovered I loved teaching.

He switched his major to elementary education, graduated and went on to earn his M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction ten years later. He’s now pursuing a Principal Certification from SHSU Online, to take his career in education to the next level by becoming an administrator.

“After 20 years of teaching, I’ve decided that I want to move into administration,” says Tovar. “I want to take my influence beyond the classroom and help shape a new generation of teachers and learners. It’s the logical next step for me.”

Tony Tovar with his wife, Yun Yang, and daughter, Noelle

Tony Tovar with his wife, Yun Yang, and daughter, Noelle

While Tovar admits that he’d prefer sitting in a classroom, learning together with a group of people, his Shanghai address made that difficult.

“My teaching license is in Texas. In order to have principal certification added to my license, I needed to take courses from a program approved by the Texas Education Association. However, they don’t approve universities in Shanghai, China.”

With no immediate plans to return stateside, Tovar looked at his options from an international perspective, turning to US-based, accredited universities with online programs.

Fortunately for Tovar, he was no stranger to online education, having completed his M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction online. Before completing his research, Tovar outlined his specific needs relative to his online education.

“I was looking for program that I could complete in two years or less and for a program with classes that interested me.”

But, more importantly, he wanted a program that took into account that he already had a Master’s degree.

“The main thing that made me choose SHSU was that it gave me credit for my previous education and experience,” says Tovar. “SHSU is giving me the tools to get my principal certification without having to work on a second master’s degree.”

Tovar still experiences hurdles similar to those other online students may have, like balancing a full-time job, his family life and demands of schoolwork. Tovar tries to take advantage of quiet, early mornings, planning time during the school day, and lulls in action between when school lets out and dinnertime.

For Tovar, the fact that he lives in Shanghai, China and not in the United States has not changed his online learning experience.

For example, Tovar especially enjoys being able to think about his responses before giving them.

“A nice part of taking online classes is that I have more time to craft answers. In the classroom, the teacher or a classmate asks a question, and you have to formulate an answer quickly or you don’t always get to share,” says Tovar. “With the discussion board format, I can look at someone’s post, think about it, and come back later that day or the next day and give a response that is more thoughtful.”

Along with these benefits, Tovar does experience one unique advantage of taking online courses while living in China: the International Date Line.

“Shanghai is 13 or 14 hours ahead of Huntsville,” says Tovar. “If an assignment is due on Friday at midnight, for example, I can wake up on Saturday morning, have a cup of coffee, and put the finishing touches on it before I turn it in, and it’s still on time.”


Are you an American living and working overseas looking to further your education? Or perhaps you’re an international student looking for an accredited university program? Explore our many online degree and certificate programs.

SHSU’s Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D., was recently interviewed by NBC Learn to discuss the benefits of integrating NBC Learn HigherEd’s digital library to supplement her courses.

Holzweiss teaches online courses for the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, and her incorporation of the resource is an example of SHSU faculty using technology to facilitate learning outside of conventional resources.

The original interview may be found at “NBCLearn in the Classroom.”

Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D.

Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D.

Peggy Holzweiss teaches a graduate-level class called “Internship Resource Management in Higher Education” at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Holzweiss assigns NBC Learn videos as homework and uses them to introduce topics and prompt discussion. She says NBC Learn sets the stage for what students are learning in a short amount of time.

Holzweiss: “It’s hard for my students to imagine something like the Kent State shooting happening today. But with NBC Learn, I can transport them to that time and contextualize what was going on in the world at that time.

NBC Learn: How do your students respond to NBC Learn videos?

Holzweiss: “NBC Learn videos are always in the form of a story. My students pay attention to stories because there is a natural connection between people.  NBC Learn videos are tailored to their attention span, and they love having a visual component to balance out their reading.”

NBC Learn: How do you use NBC Learn videos?

Holzweiss: “When we discuss how society views higher education, I can show specific examples of the state of funding in higher education. I want my students to see how people outside the world of academia are thinking, and put things into perspective for the students.”

NBC Learn: Why do you use NBC Learn?

“I really like NBC Learn’s brevity and quality. Combining those two things is incredibly important when you are teaching. It helps the students find a balance between the text and the real world. Whenever I can add a component that helps them enjoy the class like NBC Learn does, I am certainly going to use it.”

Graduate certificates have seen a dramatic increase in popularity due to the minimal time commitment necessary to complete the certificate and the immediate return on the student’s investment as it relates to job placement and/or promotion.

shutterstock_176126174Sam Houston State University’s College of Education offers nine online graduate certificates, allowing students to pursue a variety of specializations in targeted fields that can stand alone or be used in combination with a master’s degree, where applicable.

For example, the completion of the online Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, consisting of 15 credit hours, represents half of the required credits necessary to receive a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, should the student decide to seek the degree. Students could enroll in the master’s program following the completion of the certificate and be halfway to completing the degree.

fuller

Dr. Matthew Fuller Assistant Professor

Matt Fuller, Ph.D., the academic advisor for the Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, says of the 49 students enrolled in the certificate program, 41 students are pursuing the certificate in tandem with the M.A. in Higher Education Administration.

“When people look to obtain a graduate certificate, they want to know the program that is being offered is vigorous, and that the program will highlight a professional focus,” he says. “We have top-notch faculty teaching programs in our certificate program, and we have seen tremendous success resulting in the completion of the certificate.”

Fuller says 89% of students who completed the certificate accepted a new job or a promotion in their current position as a result of the completion of the certificate.

The success and student interest of the certificate program has guaranteed at least one new certificate, “Assessment in Institutional Research,” available Fall 2014.

For more information about online graduate certificates, visit distance.shsu.edu.

After nearly 40 years as an educator, Teri Lesesne, professor of library science, has been privy to a multitude of changes in the classroom, but she views the incorporation of online learning to be among the most profound and beneficial inclusions to date.

“At Sam Houston State University, we’ve really changed how we deliver instruction to non-traditional students, meaning students who are unavailable to attended class on campus or between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she says. “Part of our jobs as educators is to find other ways to reach our students, and the online format requires us to think of how our course will thrive in a virtual environment.”

lesesne

Dr. Teri Lesesne, professor of library science

Lesesne has been with the College of Education for nearly 25 years, and has spent the past four years teaching Literature for Children and Literature for Young Adults courses as part of the online Master of Library Science program.

Given the structure of the curriculum, Lesesne is able to view the arch of her students’ online learning evolution, teaching them one of their first online courses in Literature for Children and nearing the completion of their degree in
the Literature for Young Adults course.

“The development of some students can be profound between the courses I teach, and other times, it can be consistent; it really depends on the student’s approach to online learning,” she says. “It can be fun to see how far students have come in terms of their communication with peers or timeliness of their responses.”

Lesesne says the first priority of her online courses—as in her face-to-face courses—is to establish camaraderie and communication among her students. She says the process of forming relationships with her online students is organic and at their convenience.

“Building a community is a priority; to show we are in the course together, talking about our experiences and sharing what we’ve encountered and the challenges we could potentially face in the field of library science,” she says. “Building relationships is the way to understand that we are no longer speaking about regional problems, necessarily, because we have students from across the nation and at times, other parts of the world.”

Lesesne also encourages students to learn about her through her blog posts, Facebook and Twitter profiles, and other social media outlets.

One challenge Lesesne and her colleagues in the Department of Library Science faced in teaching the program online was the absence of physical media, particularly not placing books in their students’ hands. As a substitute, Lesesne has utilized technological applications such as screencasts and podcasts to explain assignments and provide demonstration.

Lesesne says she forms a special bond with her online students, one based in real-world circumstances.

“I come to know my students well, including their study habits and execution of assignments, and I know they need just as much feedback and support as students in my face-to-face courses,” she says. “The benefit of the online format is students can work when they have time, and I can get back to them quickly. Students can be in touch with me any time; online students, I find, are much more comfortable sending me an email at 2 a.m.”