Archives For SHSU Online

Through piles of paperwork and binders filled with course notes, you would never know Julie Daniels is an online student.

“I’m really weird, and I don’t like reading off the computer,” says Daniels. “I still have to print everything out because I like it in front of me.”

online learningLast semester, when Daniels took nine credit hours, this resulted in three binders full of PowerPoint presentations and class notes. If she has a paper due, Daniels writes it out first in hand, edits it, and then transcribes it into the computer.

“I don’t know how many other people this would work for, but I’m just used to paper and pencil,” says Daniels. “There’s still some old-fashioned in me.”

At 61, Julie Daniels is the ideal online student. She’s driven, works hard in her classes, completes assignments ahead of time, and gets As and Bs. However, that wasn’t always the case.

“I went to college when I first got out of high school, but I wasn’t serious. I was only going because my parents wanted me to, so I blew it off,” explains Daniels. “You know, boyfriends, frat parties, all that kind of stuff got in the way of school.”

A mother of five adult children and grandmother to 12 grand- and great-grandchildren, ages 3-25, all of that changed about four and half years ago.

“I wanted it for me, for a sense of accomplishment, but I wanted to show my parents that I could do it, “ says Daniels.

As an online graduate student in SHSU Online’s Sociology program, age is not an issue for Daniels nor her classmates; they come from as varied a background as she does, are diverse in age, and hail from far-flung places.

A resident of San Antonio, Texas, Daniels stayed local, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy at St. Mary’s in 2014. While there, Daniels received a Presidential Scholarship, and graduated with a 3.9 grade point average. Still, her journey was met with some adversity. Her parents passed away within a year of each other and she was often the oldest student in her face-to-face courses.

“I got teased a lot,” admits Daniels. “The kids would look at me, and they would say, why are you here? I told them, because when I was their age, I messed around and didn’t think school was important. But they would answer, No, why are you here, you’re too old.”

As an online graduate student in SHSU Online’s Sociology program, age is not an issue for Daniels nor her classmates; they come from as varied a background as she does, are diverse in age, and hail from far-flung places (at least from San Antonio’s perspective) like Japan, France, Puerto Rico, and closer to home, Houston.

“It’s very interesting, the amount of distance that was between some of us and then some of us were as close as Houston,” says Daniels.

While Daniels hasn’t completely embraced all the digital tools available to her, she still thrives in an online environment, utilizing group discussions in Blackboard and email to communicate with her classmates and to sort out questions and problems. It is this communication, Daniels believes, that is one of the keys to success in online classes.

“If you have good communication with your fellow classmates, you’ll do a lot better,” says Daniels.  “A lot of us could figure things out without involving the professor. What’s even nicer is when you have the same classmates a couple of times you get to know them. Hopefully, one day we all will get to see each other.”

If all goes according to plan, that could be Spring 2016 at graduation. She will also be 62 years old.

If you’re interested in returning to school, no matter what your age, visit Online Programs and Degrees Programs to find the right online educational opportunity for you.

The Sam Houston State University motto, “The Measure of a Life is Its Service,” resonates deeply with SHSU Online student Peary Perry.

Perry, 73, a Houston resident, has lived a full life. He served his country in the United States Army as a tank commander, worked in the Houston Police Department as an undercover vice squad officer, and acted as president of several successful companies across a multitude of industries.

When it comes to pursuing his online Master of Arts in History degree, Perry makes the case for online learning, coupled with hard work and dedication, to help individuals overcome adversity to achieve their goals.

“I hear a lot of people say ‘I’m too old to go back to school, or I should have gotten my degree but I didn’t,’ and what I’m trying to emphasize is that you’re never too old to learn, you’re never too old to get a degree, and there’s always an opportunity out here for you if you want to take advantage of it,” he says. “I’m not your normal master’s student, but this is a professional opportunity and a challenge for me to pass on to others that you’re never too old to learn.”

Admittedly, getting back into higher education was a transitional period for Perry. He received his undergraduate degree from St. Edward’s University in 2008, attending both online and on-campus courses. He enrolled in SHSU’s online master’s program in fall, 2014, and was pleasantly surprised to see the technological advancements in his online courses.

Perry says his courses are immersive, with a variety of classwork that utilizes several mediums.

“What brought me to SHSU was the ease of enrollment, the description of courses, and the references that I found from prior students made me think this was the place I needed to be,” he says, “But the style of learning is what got me hooked. Today there is more encouragement to participate in classes, which I enjoy much more because you are encouraged to express your feelings about certain subjects.”

SHSU has received numerous awards for their student engagement within online programs, promoting quality participation in courses, providing students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and classmates, and allowing students to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

Perry is not alone in his educational journey; in fact, his support system acts as an inspiration for him completing his degree.

“The reason this is important to me is because I have four sons, my oldest is 51 and my youngest is 39, and I have three granddaughters, 22, 10, and 2; I think it is very important for them to know they are never too old to learn, whether it’s cooking, history, or economics,” he says. “My experience has been, the more you exercise your brain, the more alive you are.”

SHSU offers over 40 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.

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.

2015-USNews-Web-Hero(NoSwoosh)-1940x746For the fourth straight year, Sam Houston State University has earned national recognition in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of online education programs.

2014 was the first year that SHSU was invited to participate in the ranking process for Best Graduate Online Criminal Justice degree programs, and the university came in at #5 in the nation.  In the Student Services and Technology area of the ranking dimensions for this program, SHSU is second nationwide. The Student Engagement and Faculty Credentials and Training dimensions of the rankings also contributed to the program’s overall top-shelf ranking. And the new student retention rate for this program is 85 percent for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Another standout ranking for SHSU was in the Graduate Online Information Technology Program listing. Here the university notched a rank of #7, again with exceptional scores in Student Services and Technology, Student Engagement, and Faculty Credentials and Training. This program has earned similar high rankings in past years in the U.S. News & World Report listings. SHSU’s overall rank of #7 places the school in the top sixth, or top 16 percent, of all schools included in the ranking report for Graduate Online Information Technology Programs nationwide.

In the rankings of Best Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs, SHSU fell within the top 25 percent of all universities included in the survey. Similarly, in the Best Online MBA Programs rankings, the university’s rank is comfortably in the top third (31 percent) of all schools surveyed.

Bill Angrove, associate vice president for distance learning, says: “The #5 ranking of the Best Graduate Online Criminal Justice degree programs is especially rewarding to me as this is the first program to be put online after my arrival at SHSU Online in 2009. In helping to develop this program, I was honored to work closely with the former Dean of the College of Criminal Justice, Dr. Vincent Webb, and I am sure he is as thrilled as I am to receive this recognition. It’s also an honor to be recognized by U.S. News and World Report with high rankings for so many additional online degree programs.”

SHSU Online’s service plays a key role in the university’s placement regarding U.S. News & World Report’s “Student Services and Technology” indicator by providing student support and highly accessible technologies and services and strong support to its students.

U.S. News & World Report’s “Student Engagement” indicator measures the degree to which programs promote quality participation in courses, allow students opportunities to both readily interact with their instructors and fellow classmates similarly to a campus-based setting, and allow students to complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.

SHSU offers more than 35 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.

A complete listing of the U.S. News and World Report online rankings can be found at http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/sam-houston-state-university-227881.

shutterstock_194704859Although online education has gained significant popularity in recent years, the processes of obtaining a degree online as opposed to taking classes on campus still raises doubts for many.

However, a recent white paper from Learning House and Aslanian Market Research, titled “Equal Opportunity in Higher Education: Understanding Rigor and Engagement Across Learning Modalities,” found that there are strong similarities between the quality of on-campus and online courses:

  • Online students write and read as much as traditional students
  • Faculty members for online courses provide the same amount of feedback as faculty in traditional classrooms, and possibly more quickly

The report, combining data from a survey conducted by the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) as well as Online College Students 2014: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences (OCS), obtained results from more than 500 institutions nationwide and 27 in Canada, and 1,500 individuals nationwide, respectively.

Through comparing the results of the NSSE and OCS surveys, it was found that across nearly all the questions examined, there were little to no significant statistical differences in academic rigor or faculty engagement between the groups. However, there were some directional trends and conclusions that did emerge, including:

  • Online students are writing just as much as, and possibly more than, NSSE students.
  • Online students are preparing just as much as NSSE students, but may be spending more of this preparation time reading.
  • Online students report feeling less challenged by their online coursework
— perhaps due to their age and life experiences they bring into the classroom.
  • Online faculty are providing the same amount of feedback, but may be doing so more quickly.

Our student stories speak for themselves, but SHSU Online is dedicated to providing modern technological applications and support to the university’s award-winning distance education programs. Visit our Awards and Recognitions page to see how SHSU Online stacks up against academic institutions across the nation.

SHSU offers more than 35 fully online degree programs, including two doctoral programs, as well as 24 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.

decor-christmas-tree-in-bearkat-plazaFrom all of us at SHSU Online, have a happy holiday and a wonderful new year.

We’ll see you again in 2015 as we continue to share insight and information about our growing number of online undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as professional certificates.

Thanks for visiting samhoustononline.com and making 2014 a year to remember.

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!

One criticism of online education is that, on average, pursuing a four-year degree is more expensive online than on campus. At Sam Houston State University Online, that’s not the case.

college-moneyTo provide our online students with the same quality education and level of service our on-campus students enjoy, we staff dedicated employees and utilize modern and safeguarded technology to deliver online courses. This added cost of delivery requires a distance-learning fee for online students. However, the fee is somewhat offset by waivers for other on-campus
service fees that online students are not required to pay since they are not on campus.

In the end, SHSU Online students enjoy all the benefits of being an online student at a cost quite similar to that of SHSU on-campus students.

In addition to numerous intangibles, including the cost of vehicle maintenance and gas to commute to campus, the foremost benefit to taking classes online is convenience. Your coursework is available on your time. If you need to listen to a lecture, participate in online class discussions, or ask a question, you may do so, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Online education provides opportunities for students that may be otherwise unavailable. College students of all ages and backgrounds have the freedom to work their education into their otherwise busy lives, which can be invaluable for those working long or unconventional hours, raising a family, or living in areas with geographic constraints.

We live in a time where technology bridges gaps across the globe, and consequently, opens the door to opportunities previously unavailable. If a student in China is interested in pursuing SHSU’s online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, they may do so, from the convenience of their own home. In fact, students from India, Norway, Canada, and Vietnam are currently enrolled in online classes at SHSU!

We have numerous success stories of students who took unconventional paths to return to college and complete their degree, and more often than not, our students say they would not be able to reach this milestone without the assistance of SHSU Online.

We know that SHSU students’ needs are as unique as the students themselves, and we pride ourselves on serving them. We’ve been honored to receive numerous awards through the years for the quality of our programs.

Invest in your future. Visit http://distance.shsu.edu today.

Online Schools Center has included SHSU in a list of the top U.S. online schools that “offer the discerning learner the finest education using the most progressive technology.” SHSU ranked #15 on the list, ahead of such institutions as UCLA, Johns Hopkins and Boston University.

techThe list from Online Schools Center cited numerous reasons for ranking SHSU so highly this year, starting with SHSU’s seven lecture theaters that have been equipped with interactive television technology. These rooms, which are operational at both main campus and The Woodlands Center, enable classes to be streamed live to distance learners, with the added benefit of adjustable cameras and multiple microphones. The list also mentioned SHSU’s effective utilization of Blackboard to organize course content while also empowering web-based students to use the university’s library, career services and writing hub.

Online Schools Center describes itself as a resource geared towards business professionals, busy stay at home moms and dads, and those with full schedules whom would prefer an online option. To learn more about Online Schools Center and view the complete list of rankings, visit their website.

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.


For many college students, the immediate choice to make following graduation is to either attend graduate school or to enter the workplace, but SHSU Class of 2010 graduate Brittany Wilbert decided to do both.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Computing Science degree, Wilbert says she received two potentially life-changing messages on the same afternoon: an offer for a full-time position with an IT security company, and a letter of acceptance into the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program through SHSU Online.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but I was afraid if I waited, I would be too involved in my career and other aspects of my life, and I wouldn’t be able to go back,” she says. “I think that happens with a lot of students, and I didn’t want to second guess myself; I knew it was something I wanted to do, and SHSU Online made it possible for me.”

Wilbert received her undergraduate degree in May 2010, and began her online master’s degree in August 2010.

Wilbert says she was able to immediately apply information technology practices derived from her undergraduate degree into her work responsibilities, as well as advanced studies simultaneously while attending class online.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree on campus, Wilbert received personalized guidance from Dr. Lei Chen, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, and says the nature of Dr. Chen’s student communication assisted her in the transition to taking online courses.

“Dr. Chen was always someone who sent frequent notifications to his students, so there wasn’t much change, other than physically seeing him in class,” she says.  “I’ve been in his classes since my undergraduate degree, and now as a graduate student, he has led me through my master’s project by giving me advice and assisting me in submitting papers to conferences.”

Wilbert cites her parents, Mark and Alfrieda, as one of the driving forces encouraging her to further her education, but her experience as a young woman adapting to a 40-hour work week while taking full-time classes required her to adjust quickly.

“As a young woman in a career field that has a low representation of women in the industry, being able to use the knowledge I learned at SHSU has given me the strength to understand there will be difficulties, but earning this degree will show I can do computer science related work as well as any of my male colleagues,” she says.  “Understanding that you have to give yourself time beyond working to take care of your schoolwork and realizing the investment I made in myself keeps me wanting to continue to be successful.”

Wilbert is scheduled to graduate in the Summer 2014 term.

Visit http://distance.shsu.edu to find out more about the online Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

IMG_6944To say that the online MA in History has national appeal would be an understatement. This past spring, the program attracted students from all four corners of the country, and from as far away as the Hawaiian Islands. In fact, students in 19 of the 50 states were enrolled in courses 100% online.

So what exactly is drawing students from Maine to California and beyond to SHSU in such numbers? The answer is likely related to quality, value, and a commitment to embrace the online environment.

Delivering a quality online program has always been paramount to the History Department, and they are about to raise the bar even higher by adding three new professors to their ranks—all with PhDs—from the University of Chicago, Oxford, and Yale. With the online program already taught entirely by full-time faculty holding PhDs, the addition will bring even more depth to the roster.

Further, the program is a great value for online students. In 2013, Sam Houston State University was named one of the nation’s most affordable online colleges. AffordableCollegesOnline.org ranks SHSU as the most affordable online university in Texas, and the fourth most affordable in the nation.

Among the first fully online programs at SHSU, the department continues to embrace the online environment developing quality content, video, and innovative projects. One example of this is a new mobile app the department hopes to develop next year. The mobile app would allow users to conveniently browse historic East Texas sites using their smart phones and would give SHSU’s online history students the opportunity to write and publish their own original descriptions for hundreds of historic sites around the region. It’s the kind of involvement that not only helps students learn about history, but also provides them with something to add to their resume that sets them apart from the crowd.

As long as the opportunities for online students continue to grow, you can expect the online MA in History program to do the same in both its size and its national reach.

For more information about the online MA in History degree, visit distance.shsu.edu.

An exciting and useful resource for SHSU’s online students is on its way to Blackboard in the fall. As a result of a collaboration between the Newton Gresham Library and SHSU Online, students will soon find a new addition at the top of the page when they log in to Blackboard—a tab that will bring them to a Library Community Page. On
the librarylogorevpage, students will have access to a wealth of valuable information, including research guides which are custom-tailored to their major.

Blackboard already identifies students by major when they sign in, and this new project aims to take advantage of that capability to empower students with the tools they need to succeed. The new page will enable SHSU Online to take the library’s research guides, which are thoughtfully constructed by individual subject librarians in coordination with faculty, and deliver them directly into the hands of the students who need them the most. The guides contain important reference works, explain how to go about finding other books in the library, and have links to the databases that are most useful for finding journal articles pertinent to each student’s interests.

Erin Cassidy, the Newton Gresham Library’s Web Services Librarian, has noticed that professors who have already incorporated these resources into their online courses continually request them semester after semester. Cassidy, who is collaborating closely with SHSU Online to bring the Library Community Page to fruition, says the best thing about the new page is that it will meet online students at their point of need by having these resources featured prominently on Blackboard. She explains, “It’s a one-stop-shop that will show students the Library’s hours of operation, explain how to get in touch with the library with any questions they might have, and provide them with invaluable research guides.”

Ruth Cubas, Director of Online Course Development at SHSU Online, says the project is a part of SHSU Online’s larger commitment to providing students with the immediate, online availability of academic resources they can use to support their learning experience. Cubas notes, “We believe that by providing seamless access to academic resources, such as historical or literary documents, maps, case studies, photos, etc., we can support the wonderful academic efforts our professors engage in when working dedicatedly to create efficacious online learning environments.”

Project designer Jay Wilson, an Instructional Designer at SHSU Online with a background in Library Science herself, is also passionate about the project. “We want to give the library more of a presence on Blackboard, and this Community Page will do that.” Wilson’s coworker and fellow Instructional Designer Ray Scheel agrees, and he has already been incorporating research guides into individual online courses, most recently for the new College of Health Sciences. Scheel says the feedback has been extremely positive.

Ruth Cubas says the collaboration with the library just makes sense, and she is looking forward to rolling the project out in the fall. “We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with the Newton Gresham Library to create an intuitive point of access for our learners within Blackboard, a place they already frequent as part of their academic process.” Students can look for the new Library Community Page to arrive on Blackboard in Fall 2014.

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.”

A Sam Houston State University finance professor invested long-term in teaching online, and says the return on his investment has been worth its weight in gold.

Balasundram Maniam, a professor in the College of Business Administration, was at the forefront of online learning for the college when he began teaching online courses in the Fall 2009 semester.

“To prepare for teaching online, I read a lot about what was developing in the field of education, and I saw how technology was changing things; what was available and what could be done in courses,” he says. “I had my reservations, but I soon went from a skeptic to a believer; I’m preaching online learning now.”

Bala-1

In November, Maniam was recognized as a Regents’ Professor by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System for his “lengthy record of consistently superior student evaluations,” and “commitment to innovation in teaching, as evidenced by his groundbreaking development of online courses in finance.”

Maniam, better known to his students as “Bala,” began teaching FINC 5310, Introduction to Institutions, Investments, and Managerial Finance, as his first online course and has continued to update the materials, presentation, and supplements of the course often through the years.

He says updating the methodology and approach of the course to keep it fresh served as a representation for teaching online in general, as the key to keeping the course relevant to students is adapting to both their personal and professional needs.

“It takes a lot of time and energy to both design and execute a course properly, and making yourself availability to students 24-hours a day, seven days a week, is part of that process,” he says. “But the students see your dedication to their learning experience, and they return your effort through quality responses and questions about assignments.”

Maniam was so confident in the resources and approach of his online course that in the Fall 2013 semester, he invited students enrolled in his face-to-face FINC 5310 course to utilize the resources of his FINC 5310 online course in addition to classroom discussions. He says students gave resounding positive feedback after accessing online course content such as streaming video lectures, notes, and supplemental readings.

“Certain aspects of face-to-face learning only give so much to students, and communication is key to their success,” he says. “Online students have the ability to pause, rewind, and review online lectures, communicate directly with me via email, and control the speed of their learning on their terms.”

-Professor Balasundram Maniam

Looking back, Maniam says the process of learning to teach online, one that he initially met with reluctance, made him a better professor.

“I saw that educators were getting more and more online, and I didn’t want to be on the sidelines; I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, keep up with the technology, and be comfortable moving forward in the future,” he says. “Teaching courses online has made me a better professor, and I really appreciate what online can do; 10 to 15 years ago I wouldn’t have thought so, but the advantages of online learning are undeniable.”

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.

If your New Year’s resolution includes going back to school, please contact us to talk about getting started.  SHSU Online has more than 25 fully online programs.

shutterstock_88167571The Profiles Series television program, featuring Larry King, will air an episode that features a segment about SHSU Online on The Discovery Channel on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, at 6:00 a.m. CST. The segment was originally slated to air on Fox Business Network’s In View series, but an opening in the Profiles Series schedule presented the opportunity for the move to Discovery.

The percentage of students enrolled in online classes increased dramatically this fall as SHSU continued to offer more online undergraduate and graduate courses to meet the demands of record enrollment and student preferences.

In fact, 12 percent of SHSU students are taking 100 percent of their classes online this fall. In addition, the number of 100 percent online students increased 55 percent for undergraduate students and 20 percent for graduate students over fall 2012.

“SHSU Online responds quickly to emerging student needs for online degree programs and courses,” said Associate Vice President for Distance Learning Bill Angrove.

“The number of degrees available online has been steadily increasing over the past four years. At present, the university offers 25 degree programs completely online. They include three undergraduate degrees, 22 master’s degrees, one doctoral degree, and almost two dozen graduate and professional certificates,” he said.

In addition to providing high-quality, convenient, and affordable online courses to students in Texas, SHSU is increasing its presence nationwide as a recognized name in online education. This fall the total number of fully online students reached 2,303, with students spread across 38 states.

“Students are choosing SHSU online programs and courses for a number of good reasons,” Angrove said. “Our online courses are taught by outstanding full-time faculty members committed to excellence in teaching and their commitment is complemented by interactive courses designed with a high quality look and feel that is consistent throughout a degree program.

“SHSU Online provides outstanding technical support to students and faculty which improves the online educational experience,” he said. “The combination of outstanding faculty, intellectual rigor, quality course design, and exceptional technology support makes SHSU’s online courses an outstanding value for undergraduate and graduate students alike.”

SHSU Online’s focus on quality and value in online education has not gone unnoticed. Once again this year, as in years past, the university achieved high results in US News & World Report’s rankings of online education programs. In addition, AffordableCollegesOnline.org ranked SHSU the most affordable online university in Texas, and the fourth most affordable in the nation in its “Most Affordable Online Colleges” report.

SHSU also ranks in the top 25 in the Guide to Online Schools’ 2013 Online College Rankings. In addition, the university has been honored, for the second year in a row, as a “Military Friendly School,” a recognition of its status among the top 20 percent of colleges, universities, and trade schools that are doing the most to help U.S. military service members, their spouses and veterans as students.

“Attention to quality and excellence in course development and technology support helps explain why student participation in online courses offered by SHSU continues to grow,” Angrove said. “Also, SHSU has committed to optimizing the university’s website for search engines and providing improved usability for prospective students. This commitment should help SHSU Online to see even greater growth in the future.”

Read the article at Today @ Sam!