Leading “Virtual” University Awarded for “Preaching What it Practices”

April 7, 2003

A leading “virtual university” in the United States has been awarded for preaching what it practices. University of Maryland University College (UMUC), headquartered in Adelphi, Md., with a cyber reach that extends far beyond the nation’s capital or any of the university’s traditional classrooms in 29 countries, has been awarded for its Master of Distance Education (MDE) program, offered in partnership with Carl von Ossietzky University, Oldenburg, Germany.

The Distance Learning Community of Practice of the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) presented UMUC with the 2003 Program of Excellence award during the association’s 88th Annual Conference in Chicago March 29.

UMUC is a world leader in online education, having more than 87,000 online enrollments last year in 86 undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs that can be completed entirely online. The university also offers online a comprehensive array of student/academic services available to any of approximately 82,000 UMUC students with Internet access worldwide.

“It is appropriate that UMUC, a leader in ‘virtual education’ worldwide, would be recognized for cultivating managers of distance education,” said UMUC Provost Nicholas Allen. “This is a university that has set the standards in distance education for more than 25 years and continues to do so now, using the most advanced technologies.

“UMUC’s graduate program in distance education demonstrates how virtual education knows no geographic or cultural boundaries,” Allen continued. “The focus of the program is global, so an international student body and faculty are key to the program’s success.”

According to UMUC program director Eugene Rubin, the MDE program originated in 1996 when he and Ulrich Bernath, of the Center for Distance Education in Oldenburg, created a virtual seminar for professional development in distance education, based on the rising popularity of distance education and the increasingly cross-cultural student body it attracted. In two years, the pair’s seminars attracted more than 125 faculty and distance education administrators from 24 countries.

Today, the 36-credit graduate degree program in distance education Rubin and Bernath designed prepares students worldwide to manage distance education enterprises within educational, business, government, and non-profit organizations. Topics studied include advanced technologies and new and emerging media in distance education, and intellectual property and copyright issues. Like all UMUC online programs, the MSDE is designed for busy professionals who want to balance coursework with family and career responsibilities.

Currently, students in the MDE program are from more than 35 states and 10 countries. While the majority of students come from the United States, program organizers hope to attract more and more students from Europe and Asia, since the focus of the program is global.

Online faculty are from the United States, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Israel.

UMUC also offers five 12-credit graduate distance education certificates that provide students core sets of knowledge and skills. Credits earned toward the certificates can be applied toward a full degree.

For more information about UMUC graduate distance education programs, visit the university’s Web site at www.umuc.edu/mde


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