Monday, August 29, 2011

PC Offers 3 New Online Degree Programs

(PHOENIX, Ariz., Aug. 29) – Phoenix College has taken another step to meet the diverse educational needs of its students. Earlier this month, the college received approval from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA) to offer three online degrees.

The online degree programs are: Associate in Arts, Associate in General Studies and Associate in Applied Science–Administration of Justice.

The college also received approval to offer additional online degrees in the future. Current plans call for offering six online degree programs by 2013.

“Phoenix College serves as the flagship college of the Maricopa Community Colleges," said Phoenix College President Dr. Anna Solley. "We are thrilled to provide more options to students and more access to courses. Students will have a greater ability to accomplish their educational goals.”

With the approval, Phoenix College joins Rio Salado College as the only two schools in the ten-college Marcicopa County Community College District to offer online degree programs.

“Most of our students who take online courses are within Maricopa County,” said Kurt Chambers, chair of PC’s eLearning Committee, which implemented a three-year plan leading to the approval of the online degrees. “They may have transportation issues or they may not be able to get the course they need at a school near them.”

Currently, about 21 percent of PC students participate in online or hybrid courses and the number is growing. Hybrid refers to a blend of online instruction and traditional classroom setting.

The approval came after a highly successful focus visit on April 4-5, 2011, from two HLCevaluators.The evaluators reviewed PC’s strategic online planning efforts, which reflected the college’s commitment to distance learning, and the work of the college’s eLearning Committee, which included establishing training requirements for PC faculty teaching online courses, following quality standards as outlined by Quality Matters, a national organization dedicated to high standards in the design of online courses, and providing online student services in advisement, registration, financial aid and tutoring.

Now the eLearning Committee will encourage the development of more online courses that lead to degrees. “We’ll be looking at specific degrees,” Chambers said. “Some degrees may already provide 60 to 70 percent of their courses online so we just need to work on the other 30 percent.”

Although retention matches national averages, Phoenix College also will seek to improve retention and completion rates for online students.

“Students shop for courses both at PC and within the District,” Chambers said. “That’s one of the beauties of the Maricopa system. This supports other schools as well.”


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