Fresno State Awarded $5 Million to Expand Digital Campus Services
The grants from the U.S. Department of Education are targeted to “Hispanic Serving Institutions,” a designation Fresno State holds because approximately 33 percent of the university’s undergraduates are Hispanic. The $5 million will be spread over five years.
“These grants will allow us to reach out to students in rural areas with more Web-based online courses,” said Hye Ok Park, executive director of Fresno State’s Digital Campus (www.csufresno.edu/digitalcampus). “We also will be able to provide faculty training in developing online courses and we will develop a much-needed high-tech training center.”
Fresno State has an 18,000-square-mile service area. More than half of the school-aged children in the region live in rural, isolated communities, with an average round-trip commuting distance to Fresno of 80 miles.
One of the two grants will help transition more undergraduate courses to a fully online format, through the Digital Campus. Also, targeted freshmen in Kerman, Mendota and Tranquility will receive special academic tutoring and counseling and special assistance in accessing Web-based curriculum.
A laptop subsidy program for low-income Hispanic students also is built into the grant.
The second grant will be a cooperative effort with West Hills Community College District. West Hills’ existing general education online courses will be combined with upper division courses from Fresno State to enable students in nursing, allied health sciences and teacher education to complete their degrees online.
Fresno State and West Hills already have a dual admissions component in place. West Hills, a major feeder college to Fresno State, has a Hispanic student population of 42 percent.
“Both grants will ultimately benefit all Fresno State students by providing wider online course offerings and services to the student body at large,” said Park.
The Digital Campus, created in late 2000, already serves approximately 15,300 students, or 75 percent of the university’s enrollment.
Students can choose from more than 600 partially Web-enhanced courses or completely Web-based classes. The classes are offered through Blackboard, a Web-based e-Learning portal system.
Students can get to their courses on Blackboard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to:
– View or print syllabi, lecture notes and any other textual materials.
– View streaming audio/video materials provided by faculty.
– Engage in discussion board exchanges with fellow students.
– Enter the virtual classroom to meet the faculty and other students
– -Submit homework and assignments via Digital Drop Box.
– Take quizzes and exams.
– Keep track of their own progress and standing in the class, online
– Connect to e-resources on the Web for course-related research.
“Our Digital Campus enrollment numbers indicate students are ready for Web-based instruction,” said Park. “With these two new grants, we will be able to reach even more people who desire an education from Fresno State.”