CSU Adding 40-Plus Courses, 2 Degrees to Online Offerings

COLUMBUS, Ga. – As the University System of Georgia (USG) celebrates National Distance Learning Week next week, Columbus State University is announcing the creation of more than 40 new online courses and two degrees that will start as early as January.

Distance and online learning are the fastest growing segments of education, with 3.5 million adults and 700,000 K-12 students nationwide having taken a course and/or completed their degrees completely online. In Georgia, several USG institutions have pooled their resources to offer degrees, certificates and endorsements in high-need subject areas.

The University System of Georgia has an innovative approach to distance learning called Georgia ONmyLINE.

Georgia ONmyLINE highlights the distance-education and online offerings of the University System’s 35 colleges and universities. Every semester, approximately 65 percent of USG students enroll in at least one course that is fully or partially taught using distance-learning technology. Featured among the 2,100 courses and 138 degrees and certificates on the searchable Georgia ONmyLINE website are graduate programs for teachers, as well as degree programs in IT, criminal justice, business, international affairs and health informatics.

Columbus State University’s presence on this site is about to increase dramatically. An initiative by CSU President Tim Mescon has prompted faculty members to create 39 new online courses across various disciplines. Additionally, the College of Education will start an online Master of Education in Leadership program in January, and the Turner College of Business has been invited to participate in the University System of Georgia's WEBMBA Program.

“Part of our enrollment management strategy is fueled by the delivery of a variety of online courses,” Mescon said. “We want Columbus State to be the first choice for people looking for a high-quality, convenient education. These new initiatives should be especially attractive for students at Fort Benning and West Point, and working professionals in any field.”

The university already offers, completely online, a Master of Education with a Major in Accomplished Teaching, a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and a Master of Science in Applied Computer Science – a degree recently rated as among the best values in the country. All are accessible through www.georgiaonmyline.org.

“Through this site, prospective and enrolled students can quickly find online programs and/or other courses that meet their career or degree needs. They can apply for admission to colleges and universities, and once accepted, register for courses,” says Dr. Kris Biesinger, the USG’s associate vice chancellor for information and instructional technology services.

Current distance-learning students as well as the general public are interested in anytime, anywhere learning because of its flexibility and convenience. Childcare, work schedules, family obligations, gas prices and long drive times are barriers to attending campus-based courses. Andrea Freeman, a working mother who is completing a master of education degree in special education at Valdosta State University agrees, “I couldn’t afford to take time off to go to school. If I had gone to a brick-and-mortar school, I would have had to wait until my child was older.”

In order to meet the needs of a growing Georgia, the USG’s strategic plan calls for expanding the System’s enrollment capacity by up to 40 percent to serve an additional 100,000 students by 2020. To help meet this strategic goal, the USG will increase capacity to accommodate targeted, programmatic growth by increasing the percentage of semester credit hours generated by distance learning from 4 percent now to 8 percent by 2012.

For more information about online degree programs, courses, and certificates, please visit http://www.georgiaonmyline.org/. If you have general questions about distance learning and the University System, please call Diane Payne at 404-657-1295. For questions about Georgia ONmyLINE, please contact Dr. Kris Biesinger at 706-583-2212.

For more information about National Distance Learning Week, go to http://www.ndlw.org.