Distance Learning Viable Alternative At WCCC

With busy schedules, family obligations and other factors that make it difficult for some people to pursue their higher ed learning goals, suddenly there is light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, a lot of light.

Warren County Community College recently enhanced its Distance Education program, using Jenzebar’s eLearning platform.  Marianne Van Deursen, the Assistant Dean that oversees distance learning, worked with faculty and the administration to create a universal design standard that promotes an online learning environment that is user-friendly and student-centered. Each online course design must contain course content, assignments, discussions, and assessments that are consistent with on-campus sections and each instructor is responsible for demonstrating that their online course(s) contain sufficient academic rigor and an appropriate amount of time required to complete course work that is equivalent to that of an on-campus section of the same course. According to Van Deursen,  “WCCC has extraordinary faculty who are well-prepared to create  authentic and meaningful learning experiences for our students.”

Although distance education at WCCC makes  it easier for folks to access and complete courses external to the ground campus using electronic technology, students must be highly motivated and self-directed in order to be successful as independent learners.  WCCC’s distance education faculty are devoted to teaching online by availing themselves to students outside of the regularly scheduled on-campus course times; an expectation that sometimes requires evening and weekend communication with students.

“We understand the challenges that many people face in this day and age. We know that both traditional and adult students find themselves over-extended of their personal and professional commitments, making it difficult to schedule ground campus classes that fit into their busy lives,” said  Van Deursen.

Through this process, the distance education program supports the WCCC  mission of building a community of learners through accessible, quality learning opportunities designed to meet educational goals and aspirations of its students and reflects WCCC’s commitment to  innovation and change.  In addition to supporting the mission of the college, the goals of the Distance  Education program are to promote online learning as an alternative to ground-campus learning, to ensure the delivery of quality courses, and to provide continued support and training for faculty, staff and students.

“Distance Learning is now,” said Dr. Will Austin, President of WCCC. “Where appropriate, we need to bring the classroom to our audience. Not everyone can make it to a brick and mortar building on a regular basis. In beginning the process of developing and formalizing an accessible, quality, and effective Distance Education Program for the College, the primary focus has been on developing and facilitating distance education courses that promote student success.”
WCCC is now offering an array of Distance Learning courses that support both degree and certificate programs. Some courses are all online, while others are delivered in a  hybrid format, such as with the laboratory sciences. While both  methods of delivery may differ slightly in their approach, the classes all have one important thing in common: they are taught with instructors’ constant participation and supportive feedback.

“Just because it is referred to as Distance Learning doesn’t mean a course doesn’t have the full impact as if you were in the classroom twice a week,” said Van Deursen.

For more information about Distance Learning at WCCC, visit www.warren.edu , contact Marianne Van Deursen at vandeursen@warren.edu , or stop by the college to speak with an academic advisor about enrolling in an online course for the upcoming semester.

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