CMC enrollment in distance learning jumps 29% this fall
In line with current state and national trends, enrollment in distance learning courses at Colorado Mountain College has jumped 29 percent this semester compared to last fall. The number of students taking classes throughout the college, whether in-person at one of 11 locations or via distance, increased 9.2 percent this fall compared to last fall.
“We are very pleased with student response to our distance learning offerings,” said Daryl Yarrow, the college’s vice president who oversees distance learning. “Colorado Mountain College has increased the number of courses we offer each semester, and it appears that we are helping meet the need for affordable, anytime, anywhere education.”
CMC students can take distance learning courses in three different high-tech delivery modes. Teleweb uses a combination of Internet instruction and recorded lectures that students watch on videotape or DVD. The college’s interactive video system allows students to take part in classes taught from other campuses by sitting in a video-equipped room at their local campus. Classes are also taught via the Internet through Blackboard, an Internet interface in which students access the course materials online and interact with instructors and other students on online discussion boards.
Yarrow said popular distance courses include topics in math and science, but most in demand are classes in social sciences and business. Courses related to medical fields, including the college’s medical assistant program that started in January, are experiencing strong enrollments this fall.
As of mid-September, 1,188 students had enrolled in distance learning for the fall semester, an increase of 268 over the same time last year.
“Certainly the difficult economy has brought more students to the college who are seeking further education or retraining,” said Yarrow, in explaining this semester’s increased enrollment. “We are trying to help meet that need with additional online classes.”
The growing popularity of the college’s distance learning opportunities has prompted the creation of two new fully online associate degrees. In August, the Higher Learning Commission, which provides accreditation for the college, approved CMC’s new associate of arts and associate of general studies online degrees.
“For those who need a fully online option, we are now able to meet that need,” Yarrow said. “We have many students whose schedules do not allow them to attend classes in traditional formats. Our goal is to better serve our many diverse, growing communities.”
Yarrow said the distance learning program continues to evolve to meet student needs. The program will hire a part-time counselor specifically for online students. New this fall, the program is offering accelerated online courses. A variety of three-credit courses such as American Government, Art Appreciation and Introduction to Business will be offered in eight weeks rather than the usual 15 to 16 weeks.
Many students combine traditional on-campus courses with online or other distance courses. During the 2008-09 academic year, for example, almost
19 percent of CMC students taking classes for credit also took a class through distance learning.
Studies show that distance learning works best for self-disciplined, independent students with college-level reading and writing skills, and students who have an immediate need to take a course. Potential online students at Colorado Mountain College may complete a self assessment at http://www.coloradomtn.edu/distancelearning to determine whether this format fits their learning needs and personal circumstances.
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