Blending your Studies with Webster?

mcBy Dr. Michael Cottam

Over the last two decades online learning has become a common way for students to earn valuable skills and knowledge to be applied towards career advancement and academic credentials. However, you don’t have to be a fully online student (one who takes all classes online) to appreciate the value of online classes. In fact, the number of on-campus students who incorporate online learning into their academic programs has been growing steadily. Current research by the Online Learning Consortium indicates that 5.8 million students took at least one online class in the 2013-2014 academic year (the most recent year that data are available). Of that group, 2.85 million students are fully online, while 2.97 million students blend online and in-person classes. The number of online classes has grown over the past decade, accounting for less than 10% of classes in 2002, to over 35% of all classes in higher education in 2014.

Contrary to popular belief, the growth in online classes is no longer in the for-profit sector, but increasingly in not-for-profit and public institutions. Webster University, as a private, not-for-profit institution, has been leading the trend in online access and flexibility since 1999. Webster currently offers more than 50 programs and more than 400 courses online that can fit into many campus-based programs. In the 2015-16 academic year, about 10% of undergraduate enrollments were online and approximately 30% of graduate enrollments were online. About half of those enrollments come from campus-based students who find the access and flexibility of online classes enable them to complete their degrees in a timely fashion, applying the same rigorous curriculum as our campus-based classes.

Students whom we used to describe as “non-traditional” or “adult” are now the most common students across higher education. Most adult students cannot go to school full time. Most need to work, advance their careers, and take care of family responsibilities at the same time. Chances are that you might be one of those students. As smart and capable as you are, how can you possibly do it all, while also attending class every week?

If you have not taken an online class with Webster yet, you will probably will. You will become one of the students who blend campus, online, live video, or travel-hybrid courses into your program. Webster offers you multiple ways to complete your degree. All programs at Webster University are potentially blended programs.

  • Come to one of our many campuses across the globe. Connect with your peers and your faculty, just as you would with your teams in your career across the conference table.
  • Participate in online classes to complete work a little more independently and on your own schedule. Take time to think about your responses in threaded discussions and create video presentations to share with your classmates and peers. This experience is similar to the kinds of work you will likely do in your profession: independent work that contributes to a team project that is later viewed by others.
  • Participate in one of our new, live-video, WebNet+ course with peers across the Webster Global Network of campuses. Discuss business and intercultural topics with people who live in diverse cultures every day from their homes and workplaces across the world. Offerings are currently limited, but are growing as students discover this engaging way to communicate with colleagues.
  • Experience another culture first-hand in a travel-hybrid course that starts with online learning modules and culminates in an international experience with your classmates and faculty.

What are the benefits of blending your program among all of the options Webster provides? Think of it as career and personal growth in all of the ways you will communicate and work in the future. All careers will involve some form of in-person, team collaboration, just like our campus-based classes. Most professions will require independent work, online file sharing, virtual collaboration and email communication. Likewise, many jobs will require collaboration across video networks, similar to our WebNet+ courses. Lastly, experiencing another culture other than your own helps to make you a more global citizen, able to see things from diverse points of view. In short, blending your Webster program prepares you for life in our technology-connected, socially-connected, global community.

For examples of how you might blend your academic program, view a few of these scenarios, then talk with your academic advisor to discuss how you can join Webster’s global network of possibilities.

 

Dr. Michael Cottam is Director and AVP for Online Learning for Webster University