Distance education

Student Clubs, Virtually

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Distance ed students seek to replicate social and professional benefits of traditional college experience by forming Web-based extracurricular organizations.

To the Front of the Line

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Months after purchasing the Penn Foster Education Group, a for-profit career training provider, the Princeton Review is entering the distance education market by teaming up with community colleges to offer fast-track allied health-care programs to students who are willing to pay higher tuition to bypass long waiting lists.

The Human Element

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Douglas E. Hersh’s close crop of auburn hair and neatly trimmed goatee are clearly visible in an expandable window on my desktop. So are his light tweed blazer and matching tie. On a table behind his desk sits a purple orchid, lending color to his office -- 2,600 miles away from mine.

The technology that allows me to see Hersh’s face as he speaks to me is not new. But Hersh, dean of educational programs and technology at Santa Barbara City College, believes it may hold the key to solving an old problem that has plagued distance education since its beginnings: the retention gap.

The Specialists

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Is the “bundled” model of higher education outdated?

Some higher-ed futurists think so. Choosing the academic program at a single university, they say, is a relic of a time before online education made it possible for a student in Oregon to take courses at a university in Florida if she wants.

Texas Kills Its TeleCampus

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The University of Texas System announced Thursday that it would shutter its pioneering UT TeleCampus, laying off 23 employees and reconfiguring the online education entity into a smaller operation within the system's central office.

A Strategic Leap Online

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Middlebury College has been known for years for immersion-based language instruction and liberal arts education. So when the college announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with a for-profit company to build an online language program aimed at middle- and high-school students, it raised some eyebrows.

When Imitation Isn't Flattery

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Officials at the Distance Education and Training Council, a Washington-based accrediting body, woke up Monday morning to find that the agency had acquired an unwelcome twin overseas.

The body was tipped off to the existence of a Web site for an organization with the same name, with a British Web domain and a Cyprus address, that claims to be “the leading global membership organization for the open and distance education community.”

Black Mark for BYU

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Brigham Young University's Independent Study program appears to be wildly successful. At any given time, students are taking more than 100,000 high school courses and 22,000 college classes, for a variety of reasons: to get courses out of the way in the summer, finish high school or college early, or improve their performance in classes in which they struggled.

The E-Book Sector

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E-textbooks might be the most-talked about and least-used learning tools in traditional higher education. Campus libraries and e-reader manufacturers are betting on electronic learning materials to overtake traditional textbooks in the foreseeable future, but very few students at traditional institutions are currently using e-textbooks, according to recent surveys.

Online, Christian Students

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The question facing universities looking to compete in the booming market for online higher education is not so much how to do it, but how to distinguish themselves from the rest.

In this, Christian universities appear to have a built-in advantage. And many are seizing the opportunity to expand their footprint.

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