Harrisburg Area Community College’s WebCT-powered distance-learning program propels school to record enrollments
LYNNFIELD, Mass., Nov. 25, 2002 – Harrisburg Area Community College’s WebCT-powered distance-learning program has helped generate record enrollments this fall, WebCT announced today.
Total enrollment at the four-campus Pennsylvania community college is up 13 percent, but distance-learning enrollments are up almost three times as much, or 37 percent. The school also increased the average enrollment per course from 22.3 to 24.9 students and added 15 new distance-learning courses this year. These figures indicate WebCT is helping Harrisburg meet both its education and business goals.
“Although education always comes first, enrollments matter a great deal in the business of education,” said Larry Adams, dean of information technology and distance learning. “Our distance-learning offerings were one factor, albeit a very important one, in our rapid growth this year. A lot of folks need learning opportunities but can’t conform to a regular classroom schedule because of work, family or both. We’re addressing their needs and, judging by the uptake, addressing them very well.”
Harrisburg has been offering distance learning over the Internet since 1999. Using WebCT Campus Edition, it now offers more than 80 completely online courses to its 12,000-student population.
Harrisburg is noted for having one of higher education’s most extensive and effective teacher training programs. The program, called “Online Academy,” is mandatory for any teacher who wants to teach online. It consists of 12, two-hour sessions over the course of a semester plus online components, homework, and a semester-long course development project. Although all distance learning educators at Harrisburg possess extensive classroom experience, they need to learn the mechanics of online education technology and special considerations in the Internet teaching environment. Faculty are surveyed after every class to provide feedback for refining the Online Academy program the following semester.
“Our faculty showed absolutely no resistance to extensive teacher training for distance learning,” Adams said. “Quite to the contrary, they demanded it for the good of our students. As an institution, we set the collective expectation early on that we would accept no compromises as we migrated to distance education. We’ve held fast to that.”
The training has proved effective. Three separate studies at Harrisburg have shown that student performance for distance learning students is at least equal to that of traditional classroom students.
Harrisburg selected WebCT because it was designed by educators for educators and came out on top in peer recommendations from large universities. “Harrisburg is a great example of how a school can use WebCT to achieve its most important education goals, both on the academic side and the business side,” said Carol Vallone, WebCT president and CEO. “With families getting busier and time becoming more scarce, distance learning is an important option for lifelong learning. Harrisburg is meeting the need.”
WebCT is the world’s leading provider of integrated e-learning systems for higher education. More than 2,600 colleges and universities in more than 80 countries worldwide are using WebCT’s products and services to transform the educational experience of their students. Consortia in 24 American states, four Canadian provinces and two Australian territories as well as the Consortium of Distance Education have licensed WebCT for their member institutions, making it the de facto standard in higher education. For more information, please visit http://www.webct.com
Beaupre & Co. Public Relations, Inc.