Texas Border Business
McAllen, TEXAS – Online enrollment has increased significantly on a national and state level.
That was an assessment by South Texas College experts who have been monitoring online education trends as they seek to provide opportunities for students as the fall semester gets underway.
The verdict – Online courses across the nation have quadrupled in the last 15 years, and one in six students are taking online classes exclusively, according to a report by Brookings Institute.
At STC, about 10 percent of all students (3,226) took classes exclusively online in 2018, compared to the 853 students who took online classes 10 years ago.
“Something that is happening on the national and state level is the fact that online enrollment has increased by large amounts while traditional enrollment has been going down,” said STC Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Anahid Petrosian. “Through Distance Learning, STC provides educational opportunities to students who otherwise might not have the option to continue their education.”
STC held its 12th annual Distance Learning Symposium Aug. 22. The event was designed as a welcome and resource for hundreds of online faculty who gathered recently to discover effective teaching and learning strategies for online learners as the fall 2019 semester gets underway.
For over a decade, the annual symposium has positioned online faculty, staff of the distance learning department, and the South Texas College community to succeed in the new realities of 21st Century distance learning.
Starting in 1997 with two course sections and 57 students, the Distance Learning Program at STC has since expanded to include 34 online programs, 668 online sections, 340 faculty, and over 6,000 students as of fall 2019.
Students can earn one of 34 degrees and certificates entirely online as they pursue their career goals.
“Our Distance Learning Symposium event is really organized for all of our online faculty to network, share best practices, and essentially bring everyone together since we have multiple campuses,” said Ana Pena, Director of Distance Learning at STC. “Faculty learn from each other about their own personal approaches to online teaching so they can implement these strategies into their own online courses.”
Designed to bring innovation into online courses, faculty at the event explored ideas for instruction through breakout sessions as well as a variety of speakers organized by the Distance Learning Department at STC.
Breakout sessions touched on a variety of topics for faculty including accessibility for disabled students, competency-based learning versus traditional in an online setting, educational technologies learning software demos, and AI-enabled video platforms.
Keynote speaker at the symposium included Leslie Fisher, director of Fisher Technologies Inc., which specializes in K-12 Educational Technology conference and event presentations. Fisher presented a lively discourse on technology entitled “Tips, Tricks and Hidden Stuff in Office 365” for attendees at the event.
“You are about to go into the battlefield,” Fisher told attendees at the symposium. “I believe you all know you have one of the most important jobs out there, and that is to educate people. With education comes better quality, and better quality makes for a better us. I admire you all for that.”
For more information on taking online classes with STC please visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/online/ or call 956-872-2598.