Archives For Sam Houston State University

SHSU President Dana Hoyt was recently on the set in Florida with former Entertainment Tonight host Julie Moran to record an episode of “The Balancing Act” on Lifetime Television. The two discussed SHSU Online as well as a number of different ways online education can be beneficial for women, namely flexibility, affordability, and quality.

“The Balancing Act” is currently in its sixth season and focuses on topics that are relevant to women and their busy lifestyles. This particular episode takes a deeper look at the subject of Online Education and the burgeoning population of female online students.

Be sure to check out the show above featuring Dr. Hoyt and SHSU Online!

View a “Profiles Series” television segment about the services and philosophy of SHSU Online. The program, featuring Larry King, recently aired on The Discovery Channel.

A frenzied pest has recently emerged, spreading rapidly across the southeast United States and causing headaches for homeowners, farmers, ranchers, and utility companies. Ongoing research at Sam Houston State University hopes to control the source of the outbreak, Rasberry crazy ants.

The Rasberry crazy ant (or tawny crazy ant), Nylanderia fulva, entered Texas less than 10 years ago from South America and have spread across Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Historically, the southeast Texas and Gulf Coast regions have been especially vulnerable to invasive species, such as fire ants, but crazy ants have ushered in a new set of problems for area residents.

Originally named after a Houston-area exterminator, Tom Rasberry, who first identified the insect in 2002, crazy ants are the focus of several Sam Houston State University researchers. Among these experts are Associate Vice President for Research Dr. Jerry Cook, who is also Executive Director of The Texas State University System’s Institute for the Study of Invasive Species (ISIS), and Dr. Danny McDonald, a research scientist at the institute and a SHSU biological sciences graduate, who earned his Ph.D. at Texas A&M University with a dissertation investigating various aspects of crazy ants.


Though crazy ants don’t have stingers and do not generally inflict painful bites, they are capable of causing a variety of other problems. Pets and wildlife avoid contact with the ants, grasslands can dry out because the ants feed on a sugary substance produced by insects that are beneficial to plants, and livestock have been attacked near their eyes and other body areas.

In search of warmth, crazy ants also tend to accumulate in large numbers in switch boxes and other electrical gear, which can cause short circuits and equipment failure problems for electric utilities.

Large infestations of the insects have been found in communities south of Houston such as East Columbia, Pasadena, and Texas City. To date, 24 Texas counties have reported localized infestations, with even larger areas suspected to have infestations as well. Dr. McDonald says the density of crazy ants clustered in singular infestations is enormous, far too large for homeowners to deal with on their own.

In East Columbia, for example, every home in the community is infested with blankets of crazy ants. A bed-and-breakfast operator in the town reports food left momentarily unattended on outside tables brings swarms of the ants, and equipment such as water well systems are completely coated with the insects. In nearby LaMarque, where Dr. McDonald has conducted research for two years with the cooperation of homeowners Susan and Gattis Wittjen, the ants’ numbers are similarly large. The Wittjens sweep up a dustpan full of the ants on a daily basis, and they’ve found that exterminators can provide no more than a month’s relief before the ants come back. Once, after returning from a vacation, they swept up piles of the dead insects large enough to fill an entire grocery bag!

Fortunately, the ISIS Center – based at SHSU and located in the laboratories of the university’s Texas Research Institute for Environmental Studies (TRIES) – is on hand to help address the crazy ant problem. Dr. Cook noted in an interview that before the center was established, Texas and the region – so susceptible to problems caused byinvasive species – did not have an institute dedicated to invasive-species research and control.  SHSU’s expertise in this subject, Dr. Cook observes, “made it natural that we would start to develop a center, and what we’ve come up with is probably the most comprehensive center in the United States.” The need for institutes like ISIS is stark: Invasive species cause $130 billion in damage every year in the U.S., making them a continuous natural disaster.


Dr. McDonald, Dr. Cook, and their colleagues at ISIS are determined to help people in communities infested with crazy ants. They are hoping to find and implement effective management strategies quickly so as to prevent the ants from becoming as universally problematic as fire ants. With this goal in mind, finding a way to keep crazy ants from driving area residents up the wall has become a main focus of the Institute for the Study of Invasive Species.

The Department of History at Sam Houston State University offers an online Master of Arts in History degree that connects students’ passion for historical events with the convenience of modern-day technology.

SHSU Online Master of Arts in History

Given the flexibility of pursuing an online degree, the faculty of the Department of History established an online master’s degree with the academic credibility of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the ability to follow a range of interests as it relates to the professional ambitions of an individual student’s interests.

“All of our instructors for the online program are resident faculty at Sam Houston State University and hold a Ph.D. in their respective fields, which we feel is important,” says Dr. Jeffrey Littlejohn, associate professor of history. “We also pride ourselves on the flexibility of our program with thesis-track and non-thesis track degrees; no matter what a student wants, we can fit a program to their needs.”

The online graduate degree is presented to students in three different plans, depending on individual student preference.

  • Plan 1 Designed for students wishing to conduct a thesis.
  • Plan 2  Designed for students preferring all coursework to be in History.
  • Plan 3  Designed for students seeking preparation in history as the major field and in a logically-related minor field.

The department is currently working with approximately 100 online students pursuing their graduate degree in History, and Dr. Littlejohn recently collaborated with students to publish a book entitled Historic Walker County: The Story of Huntsville & Walker County, a comprehensive recount of the development of Walker County dating back to the through the 20th Century.

Dr. Littlejohn says the potential for students enrolled in the online master’s program is limited only by their professional ambitions.

“Our program is one where you can study and succeed in many different professional endeavors, and students benefit greatly from the flexibility of the program as it relates to their area of interest.”

Visit to find out more about the Master of Arts in History offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

SHSU faculty members, continuing to embrace and cultivate emerging technologies, are integrating the capabilities of Interactive Television (ITV) into courses to improve the distance learning experience for students.

ITV is a platform that utilizes videoconference technology to allow an instructor to teach and seamlessly communicate with a group of students attending the course from a remote classroom in real time. Through the use of streaming video technology, the professors and students in two separate locations are able to communicate directly, either by asking questions or receiving feedback.

SHSU Student using ITV technology on laptop

The program effectively broadens the student-professor dynamic for distance learners and allows more students to have access to a higher quality course.

Julie Combs, director of the Center for Research and Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership, says she is excited by the way ITV has effectively brought a physical presence to online learning.

“I have used ITV over a period of several years in the Education Leadership doctoral program, and I am very pleased with all that we can do to share information with students,” she says. “I think the biggest advantage of ITV is that it allows students from many different regions to join a class in a face-to-face format.”

Since the university adopted ITV technology several years ago, faculty accessibility and ease of use has been a point of focus for SHSU Online employees.

Currently, there are seven rooms at SHSU-The Woodlands Center (TWC) and the main campus that are ITV ready. Four are in TWC and the other three are on the main campus – in the Lee Drain Building, the Teacher Education Center, and the College for Humanities and Social Sciences.

Matthew Fuller, assistant professor and coordinator of Higher Education Administration, has used ITV for two semesters and says the technology has acted to bridge the geographical gap for students in distance learning environments.

“ITV has been reliable and the DELTA Center staff has made this technology very easy to use. I have used it to teach doctoral level classes in law, curriculum, and assessment in higher education,” he says. “I have tried some interactive group work where students on one end of ITV prepare something to present to the entire class.”

Not only has ITV improved the quality of education for distance learners, it is now easier than ever to incorporate into courses. If you are interested in utilizing ITV with your course(s), contact Graphics Designer Derrick Alexander at .

The online Master of Education in Instructional Technology program at Sam Houston State University provides students with the skills to use technology as a tool to relay classroom or professional development instruction.

“We designed this to be a very personal program, so we implemented a variety of methods to provide the most beneficial and educational experience for our students. The program is designed to open a lot of doors to potential careers for graduates of the program in various corporations or in the education field.”

– Dr. Kimberly LaPrairie

The 18-month program, provided by the College of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, may be completed entirely online and enforces a strong, working knowledge of technological communication methods including web design, podcasts, webcasts, and virtual world environments.

SHSU Online Master of Education in Instructional Technology“The program is a combination of courses covering curriculum and instruction, computer science, and educational leadership,” says Kimberly LaPrairie, assistant professor and coordinator for the Master of Education in Instructional Technology program. “The program is designed to open a lot of doors to potential careers for graduates of the program in various corporations or in the education field.”

The M.Ed. in Instructional Technology degree consists of 30 credit hours covering a range of disciplines, drawing course content from three departments within the university. The coursework consists of four Curriculum and Instruction courses, four Computer Science courses, and two Educational Leadership courses.

LaPrairie says the College of Education made strides to set the level of expectations high for student interaction and accessibility while using the online program.

“We designed this to be a very personal program, so we implemented a variety of methods to provide the most beneficial and educational experience for our students,” she says. “Some universities have hundreds of students enrolled in their programs with one professor and one grader. We accept approximately 20 students in a semester, and utilize virtual office sessions and all of the other technological communications that we teach in our course.”

Visit to find out more about the Master of Education in Instructional Technology offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

SHSU Online Ranked Top Amongst Online Programs (via US News & World Reports)

Sam Houston State University has again achieved high marks in US News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs.

Sam Houston State University’s online programs, evaluated along with nearly 700 schools across the country, ranked among the best in four categories, placing SHSU No. 2 among “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs,” No. 37 among “Best Online Graduate Education Programs,” and No. 102 among “Best Online Graduate Business Programs.” The Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice program was ranked No. 69 in “Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.”

In one of the indicators used in determining schools’ overall rankings, “Student Services and Technology,” SHSU performed especially well. In the case of all the categories reported above, SHSU ranked as high as No. 6, and no lower than No. 23, among all schools.

The “Student Services and Technology” indicator, according to US News & World Report, reflects a school’s performance in these terms: “A program that incorporates diverse online learning technologies allows greater ability for students to participate in classes and labs from a distance.”

SHSU Online’s service is an important contributor to the university’s showing in terms of the “Student Services and Technology” indicator, helping to provide highly accessible technologies and services and strong support to its students.

“SHSU’s overall performance in the US News & World Report 2013 rankings reflects the high caliber of our faculty and the commitment of SHSU Online to furnish our students with the most reliable, user-friendly, and responsive distance-learning technologies available,” said Bill Angrove, associate vice president for distance learning.

“SHSU Online is grateful for this recognition and is determined to continue improving service to our students and the entire SHSU community,” he said.

In addition to three online undergraduate degree programs, SHSU offers 24 graduate degree programs, including one doctoral program and one special program for members of the U.S. military, as well as 22 online certificate programs.

A complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings can be found at US News & World Reports online education programs overview.

For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit

Living room in SHSU Online's gamingSHSU Online‘s Instructional Multimedia Group works with faculty to provide students with personalized and contextualized online learning experiences through the use of interactive gaming.

Using gaming technology such as Unity and Photon Cloud, a 3D game engine and server, and Second Life, a virtual world where thousands of users interact with players across the world, the group collaborates with faculty members to create instructional multimedia, immersive environments, and simulation models for their online courses.

Jennie Powers, graphics coordinator for the SHSU Online Instructional Multimedia Group, says the fusion of a complex technological landscape and a strong online culture created an opportunity for educators to cater to students in a familiar setting.

“We are beginning to use online gaming technology as a vehicle for collaborative activities, as well as for reflective exercises, ” she says. “We construct each educational game or simulation to meet learning objectives outlined by professors who are seeking innovative methods to provide their online students with interactive experiences comparable to the activities of face-to-face students.”  Continue Reading…

Happy Holidays from SHSU Online
Sam Houston doesn't always hunt Bison, but when he does, they're from North Dakota.

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice program at SHSU fosters the growth and professional development of students as they develop advanced knowledge in criminal justice and criminology.

The College of Criminal Justice, one of the largest and most prestigious criminal justice programs in the nation, offers a wealth of information from professors who helped shape criminal justice research.

SHSU Online Program Spotlight: Online MS in Criminal Justice

“Now more than ever, the field of criminal justice recognizes the need for a well-educated workforce, and that is exactly the type of high quality education we will provide through our graduate programs here at Sam Houston State University.”

– Dr. Gaylene Armstrong

“We have a top-ranked program nationally and internationally, as the result of an engaged faculty who have a worldwide reputation for excellence in the field of criminal justice,” says Dr. Gaylene Armstrong, Associate Professor and Director of CJ Graduate Programs for the College of Criminal Justice. “We are setting a higher standard for educating the criminal justice workforce in the United States by offering challenging and cutting edge coursework as the field of criminal justice continues to evolve.”

The online Master of Science in Criminal Justice degree consists of 36 credit hours of coursework that prepares students to flourish in a variety of criminal justice administration positions, including organizational management and social policy.

Through the quality programming offered by the college and strong faculty relationships with local, state, and national criminal justice agencies, graduates have secured well-respected positions throughout the country.  SHSU graduates from the College of Criminal Justice have gone on to become judges, chief probation officers, police administrators, victim advocates, federal law enforcement agents, and more.

The college continues to build relationships with law enforcement agencies across the world— providing first-class research and resources to assist in advancing knowledge in the field.

“This is an exciting time for criminal justice students because criminal justice agency officials, legislators, and researchers all recognize the importance of translating evidence-based research into practice to affect positive change in our society,” emphasized Dr. Armstrong. “Now more than ever, the field of criminal justice recognizes the need for a well-educated workforce, and that is exactly the type of high quality education we will provide through our graduate programs here at Sam Houston State University.”

Visit to find out more about the Master of Science in Criminal Justice offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

Rematch Sam Houston State Bearkats SHSU vs NDSU in NCAA FCS Championship January 5 2013 FC Dallas Stadium

The Sam Houston State University Bearkats earned a hard-fought victory Saturday night, defeating the Eastern Washington Eagles 45-42 in the NCAA Division I Football Championship semifinal.

The Bearkats did the majority of their heavy lifting in the first half, scoring 35 points and holding the Eagles to a goose egg at the end of the second quarter.

Despite a slew of hometown heroics from the Eagle’s freshman quarterback, Vernon Adams,
the game was within three points at the 3:04 mark of the fourth quarter for Eastern Washington, but the Bearkats never surrendered the lead.

In a late fourth quarter drive, running back and SHSU Online student Timothy Flanders broke three tackles with a minute left on the clock to earn a first down and secure the game for the Bearkats.

The Bearkats will travel to Frisco for the FCS Championship game against the North Dakota State Bison on Saturday, January 5.

 Sam Houston State Bearkats Intend to Light up the EWU Inferno

Sam Houston State University has continued to cast a dark cloud over the Big Sky Conference, but Saturday, the team plans to extinguish the “inferno” with a storm from their triple option offense anchored by running back and online student Timothy Flanders.

Leading up to Saturday’s NCAA Division I Football Championship semifinal game against Eastern Washington, SHSU has eliminated both Cal Poly and Montana State. A Bearkat victory would signal domination over the Big Sky Conference, eliminating the top three seeds in the conference.

SHSU’s only previous meeting with Eastern Washington resulted in a legendary comeback victory, stunning the home crowd and igniting the #BearkatNation.

Kickoff is at 3 p.m. Saturday, with coverage airing on ESPNU.

SHSU Online is Getting in the Holiday Spirit

The SHSU Online offices are beginning to show signs of the holiday season, and all of our employees are excited for the holidays. We’ll collect shots from across the Sam Houston State University campus throughout the holidays and showcase them in the next SHSU Online Newsletter.

Finishing what you start is important to many people, and Katie Halbert is no exception. Katie began her college education 10 years ago when she graduated from high school and will be receiving her Bachelor of Business Administration and General Business degree in August, 2012.

One thing that helped her realize this dream was being able to take online classes. “Being able to take online classes really helped,” Katie said. “At the time I was looking for a new job and I could take online classes from anywhere.” She partially credits the flexibility of online courses for her success.

Like many non-traditional students, Katie had family obligations to balance with her studies. Katie got married six years ago and recently had a daughter, Molly. Her family has also moved several times.  Continue reading