August 12, 2022

Education For Live

Masters Of Education

Why NC State is a leader in online learning :: WRAL.com

4 min read

This article was written for our sponsor, NC State Online.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated periods of social distancing and isolation, remote learning went from an exception to a norm. While many schools, universities and colleges were experimenting with online learning for the first time, at North Carolina State University, online learning has been around for decades.

In fact, the university even offered correspondence courses for years before there was an internet, mailing students VHS tapes, then later CDs and DVDs of instructional material. Students would watch or review that content and mail their assignments to their instructors. Today, N.C. State’s online graduate programs and certificates prepare students for in-demand jobs and career advancement.

N.C. State’s DELTA, or Digital Education and Learning Technology Applications, started in the year 2000 and aimed to support teaching and learning with technology both on and off campus. Now, two decades later, DELTA is still going strong — and N.C. State’s online programs are benefiting greatly from the wide variety of available services including course development and faculty support.

Michael Kanters, a professor in the university’s College of Natural Resources, has been a long-time advocate of online programs, and even serves as a coordinator for two fully online graduate programs.

“I’ve been a college professor for 35 years, so I’m always looking for creative ways to keep students and myself engaged, because the two go hand-in-hand. I’ve always been intrigued by the online environment, and I’m constantly looking for ways that technology could be integrated into my teaching, both as an opportunity to capitalize on my own interest, as well as to reach a broader audience for courses,” said Kanters. “There’s no perfect methodology for teaching out there, but I believe that online learning can cater to a wider array of people. It makes the courses more accessible, it accommodates a wider range of learning styles and it allows for flexibility for both the students and myself.”

In order to provide robust and refined online programs, N.C. State faculty members put in the time and effort to become experts in teaching with technology through attending workshops and conferences of all types.

By leveraging available resources and technologies, N.C. State is taking online learning to the next level — which proved to be an asset of distinction.

“We at N.C. State really are leaders in online education in the nation, and I think that’s a testament to the university’s dedication to prioritizing online learning, and pushing the envelope all the time as far as new technologies and techniques,” said Kanters. “The online world is an environment that is always moving and always changing. N.C. State has outstanding professionals that have a passion for not only bringing innovation to online learning and technologies, but also for sustaining the university.”

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While Kanters has been accustomed to quality online learning, the shift to emergency remote teaching and learning has meant that every faculty member has been exposed not only to multiple learning technologies, but to new pedagogical approaches and the awareness that online education, when intentionally designed, can help students by supporting a more flexible approach to student learning.

Faculty who may not have thought about online learning before can now see the potential to reach more students by offering online sections of their courses — and N.C. State and DELTA are the model to follow.

“With the experiences we’ve had, not only during the pandemic but because we have a long history of offering outstanding online courses, N.C. State is in an excellent position to consider how we continue to offer a range of course types to students that match their needs, whether that is in-person, online or some blend of the two,” said Donna Petherbridge, interim vice provost for DELTA.

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“Moving forward, the key to our success will be to keep the student experience as our front-and-center touchstone, ensuring we are delivering courses via innovative technologies and pedagogical practices, and paying close attention to other support services that students may need to be successful.”

“Having come through the pandemic has really highlighted what people can do and how students can learn online — it’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic, because it’s brought some attention to online learning,” added Kanters. “But there are still people out there who may be afraid of it and students that don’t think that they can learn effectively in this environment.”

“If those courses are structured well, I truly believe there isn’t a course out there that can’t be taught effectively in this medium.”

This article was written for our sponsor, NC State Online.

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