FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2013
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
201-291-1111, ext. 1-5122
Berkeley College Recognizes National Distance Learning Week
While Celebrating 15 Years of Innovative Teaching and Learning -- Debunks Myths about Online Learning and Teaching
This week, as institutions nationwide celebrate National Distance Learning Week (November 11 - 15), Berkeley College celebrates its 15th year of innovative online learning and teaching. Enrollment in the online program at Berkeley College has grown from 49 students in 2003 to 1,107 students pursuing online degrees in the Fall 2013 Quarter. In addition, more than 2,600 students are taking at least one online course this fall.
“Our online students welcome a high-touch learning environment that provides the flexibility they need to successfully and smoothly juggle family responsibilities, work, and the pursuit of a college education,” said Carol Smith, Berkeley College Assistant Provost, Online.
When it comes to distance learning, not all colleges are created equal. The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) awarded USDLA/Quality Standards (QS) certification of excellence to Berkeley College Online in June 2013, establishing Berkeley College as one of only a handful to achieve this status worldwide. This award places Berkeley College Online among an elite group of institutions recognized for excellence in distance learning.
Berkeley College Online Debunks Popular Myths about Online Learning
A steady growth in online learning is not only evident at Berkeley College. A 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group and the College Board revealed that the number of students in the United States taking at least one online course had surpassed 6.7 million. Yet, despite its growing popularity, there are still common myths about the validity of distance learning.
Myth 1: Undergraduate students do not have the skill set or discipline to handle the rigor of appropriately built online classes.
Fact: Reputable institutions using best practices will evaluate a student’s skill set before enrolling him/her into an online program. “At Berkeley College, the Road to Success in Online Learning workshop is a prerequisite to registering for online courses,” Ms. Smith said. “It is designed to evaluate and determine students’ motivation, commitment and ability to function effectively in an online environment. Students who do not pass this course cannot enroll in the College’s online program.”
Myth 2: Faculty who teach online courses are not subject to the same kind of teaching evaluation as those who teach face-to-face courses.
Fact: At many reputable institutions, faculty members who teach online also teach courses on-site. This is the case at Berkeley College. Furthermore, at Berkeley College, the Online Faculty Training Program is a robust, quarter-long workshop, developed for faculty who endeavor to teach online.
“Our online courses are taught by credentialed content experts who bring real-life scenarios into the online classroom environment,” Ms. Smith said. “Course instruction includes a mix of multimedia and text-based lectures, discussion and various assignments to encourage student engagement, participation and learning.”
Myth 3: You can deliver content online, but it’s impossible to be charismatic, capturing or inspiring.
Fact: Online courses can be just as inspirational as on-site courses. This is true at Berkeley College, where the diverse student body greatly enriches the learning experience. For example, in an online Sociology course, students were assigned an oral history project. Participants in that course heard about experiences of one mother who lived through the 35-year civil war in Guatemala and another who lived in South Korea during the Korean War. In the northeast region of the U.S., one grandparent spoke about the Newark riots in the 1960s, while another shared stories about living in the South during racial segregation.
“Students in this course become empathetic listeners, and for maybe the first time ever, they let a family member tell their story,” said Marilyn Frasier, PhD, Berkeley College Online Chair, School of Liberal Arts, who teaches the Sociology course. “The impact of that story transforms not only the student who is doing the interview, but also the other students in the classroom who hear that story.”
To learn how online students have been inspired by Dr. Frasier’s course, visit http://berkeleycollege.edu/berkeley_bc/80th/3660.htm
Myth 4: You cannot receive the same level of education in an online environment as you can on-site.
Fact: Accredited online programs are subject to the same rigorous standards as on-site programs. Berkeley College Online is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In addition, Berkeley College Online is one of only a handful of institutions worldwide to receive USDLA/QS certification for excellence in distance learning.
Myth 5: Online students don’t have access to faculty or support services.
Fact: Berkeley College Online students can email faculty at any time, and they have additional access to instructors through discussion groups established for individual courses. In addition, distance learners at Berkeley College have access to the same support services as on-site students, including Advisement, the Academic Support Center and Career Services.
Myth 6: Online students miss out on peer interaction.
Fact: Engaged online students benefit from more interaction with faculty and other students. “In a traditional classroom there is not enough time to get input during discussion from every student, whereas in the online world, everyone has a say. Input is written, but everyone has a voice,” Ms. Smith said.
Eric DeJonge, who transferred from a community college to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration – Management through Berkeley College Online, doesn’t feel as though he missed out on the classroom experience as a distance learner.
“I actually found that pursuing my degree online was more rewarding," said Mr. DeJonge, who graduated in 2009. “A greater number of students participated in online discussions and that made the discussions more interesting.”
Myth 7: Online students miss out on a sense of college community.
Fact: Berkeley College Online campus life experiences include social media engagement, wellness and personal development programs and virtual workshops that focus on student success. Distance learners also can participate in numerous online clubs, including a book club, the Healthy Café, the Parent Club or the Student Government Association.
“Other online students provide a great support system. No matter what time you log on you are almost always likely to get in touch with other students,” said Ladilvia “Sabrina” Lee, a mom who took most of her courses as an active-duty Marine stationed in Japan, and graduated in June 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting. “I connected with other students who had children and they were a wonderful support as I pursued my degree.”
For a list of Berkeley College Online Fast Facts, visit http://berkeleycollege.edu/academics_bc/8427.htm
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