College of Adult Professional Studies (CAPS) set to launch July 28

With a college degree comes an increase in possibilities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, the median weekly income for high school graduates without a college degree was $652. In comparison, those with bachelor's degrees took home $1,066. Over a five-year span, bachelor's degree holders earn $111,780 more than those with only a high school diploma. With careers commonly spanning decades, it's not hard to imagine the lifetime impact a degree has on the quality and the life opportunities of an entire family.

As individuals look to keep pace with the developing job market, more and more are turning to distance learning as an alternative to traditional classroom instruction. A 2013 survey by Babson Survey Research Group found that since 2003, the average growth of online students per year has been 568,000. This figure has been growing as established brick-and-mortar schools are increasingly offering online course options as well.

In today's world, students come from all walks of life and not everyone is able to attend traditional campus institutions. There can be many benefits to distance learning: Flexibility of scheduling, convenience of saving time and money by telecommuting, and the ability to supplement or level-up professional qualifications.

Online colleges often allow students to structure their own routines, forming their own habits and workflow. This kind of flexibility allows a student to work at his or her own pace.

Classes are generally conducted through online and virtual portals. Many online schools allow students to stream or download lectures, and depending on the institution, course materials may be distributed entirely online, through the mail, or both. Some online degree programs even offer new downloadable applications, allowing students to study through mobile devices.

To emulate the interaction of more traditional settings, online colleges create and utilize forums and discussion boards to promote daily communication among peers. Students have the ability to form virtual study groups and share successes, as well as concerns or questions, with one another. This online community helps to ensure that students are provided with the necessary resources to not only keep up with the curriculum, but to feel like active participants during class.

North Greenville University is set to launch six of its undergraduate degrees on July 28. The degree programs will include Business Administration, Christian Ministries, Criminal Justice & Legal Studies, Early Childhood Educational Studies, Elementary Educational Studies, and Psychology along with the constituent general education requisite for those six programs/majors.  

To assist the university in online degree program and course creation, Dr. Olena “Lena” Maslennikova has been hired as the Director of the eLearning Center and the Dean of the online College. In addition, the university has hired an addition to its IT department, Adam Paschang, to bring added expertise to its Blackboard resources and its online support.

Maslennikova is developing user-friendly, NGU based Blackboard interface while Paschang assists the IT department in preparing NGU’s systems to handle the traffic and internet functionality.

A background of teaching overseas, a doctorate in strategic leadership emphasizing managerial coaching and hands-on experience from both sides of distance learning will assist Maslennikova in instructional design and professional development for NGU’s online programs.

“If the technology part is not there, there is going to be a lot of frustrated students,” said Maslennikova.

“Our current NGU faculty will have a variety of involvement opportunities from course creation to instruction,” said Dr. Randall Pannell, Vice President for Academics. “NGU is hiring full-time program directors to oversee the online programs.”

“There are many of our faculty members who have had significant online instructional experience and would not require much, if any, assistance in instructing online courses. Those in that category will have opportunity to instruct in the online program as need coincides with their specific academic credentials. In addition, NGU will be utilizing online faculty in a variety of roles to supplement the capacities of the NGU faculty,” said Pannell.

Pannell says that NGU will continue to follow Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) faculty standards which include full-time and terminal degree percentages.

Accreditation of online programs is conducted by the same regional and national agencies that accredit traditional schools. These organizations are authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure that a school or individual program meet established academic standards.

“Online provides as much, if not more, opportunities to reach out to students that would not be reached otherwise, who would never have a chance to hear the Gospel,” said Maslennikova. “I believe in it.”

The university expects 200 for the 2014-2015 academic year, with about 1,000 by the end of the following academic year.

NGU President Jimmy Epting said he hopes to one day see as many as 10,000 students online.

With today’s student population growing ever more diverse, course offerings are sure to increase in order to meet various needs and demands. Whether a student finds a need of an advanced degree for a management position, or simply a desire to gain more credible skills for a current occupation, an online degree can help the student achieve those goals.

For more information about NGU’s online degree programs visit http://online.ngu.edu/.