Online enrollment continues to climb

Online enrollment continues to climb

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College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

By Steve Koehler

Enrollment in online courses offered by Ozarks Technical Community College exploded in the spring semester, according to figures released this week

More than 1,100 student are taking at least one online OTC course, an increase of 34 percent over last year.

“The continually impressive growth in online enrollment reflects not only the flexibility and affordability of online education but also the College’s responsiveness to student needs and commitment to maximum accessibility and superior quality of instruction,” said Witt Salley, director of online teaching and learning at OTC.

“If the College’s online program did not provide high quality or add value to students’ educational experiences, online enrollments would not continue to increase as they have.”

Students can now complete programs entirely online in teaching, business and marketing and business technology.

 “This growth, then, speaks as much to the wide-ranging availability in online course and program offerings and excellence in teaching and learning as it does to online education’s convenience and affordability in tough economic times,” Salley said.

Randy Humphrey, vice president of academic affairs, said an increase number of students are looking to online offerings when it comes to building their schedules and as a result, Salley and his staff are assisting instructors to expand offerings to meet student demand.

“As more students become comfortable with the technology and format for online learning, we expect the demand to continue to grow for online classes.  The online environment has enabled the college to continue to respond to growth in enrollment in a time when our campus facilities and classrooms are largely filled to capacity,” Humphrey said.

Salley said the College is looking to increasing online offerings as aggressively as possible with degrees offered in Health Information Technology and possibly Computer Information Science.

“We are also proposing a course in project management that will be offered online if approved. From there, we will be researching the feasibility of a certificate or entire degree program in project management. This program could be offered at any of our campuses or education centers, and probably should be, but it is being designed specifically for online delivery,” he said.

“As new courses and programs are introduced into the college’s curriculum, we will carefully plan for delivering them online in order to serve the unique population of students who rely on online education to meet their professional, academic, and personal needs.”

Overall, OTC’s spring enrollment is up 6.9 percent overall from last spring with a total of 10,588 students taking classes.

“I believe that half of the increase is based on the hard times we are in and half is due to OTC continuing to meet the needs of people in our service area,” said Dr. Hal Higdon, president of OTC.
 
“I think it shows that when the times are tough, they know that going to a community college is the best thing they can do to improve their lives. More education and training are going to help you.”

Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College.