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Online: Learning on the web continues to expand

February 28, 2013
By MIKE MUKLEWICZ - Times Leader Staff Writer , Times Leader

The Internet is becoming a powerful tool in the education world, as schools look to harness its possibilities to help both traditional and non-traditional students.

Today's students - at any grade level - can log on to a website such as the Khan Academy to get help with easy or complex mathematical problems. And schools are working with students to help them harness the power of their computers or tablets to become true lifelong learners.

One of the obvious benefits of online learning is for adults, particularly those working with a family who want to either finish or continue their education. Colleges are putting an extensive amount of effort and resources into making their curriculum and programs flexible to fit anyone's lifestyle.

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STUDENTS IN both high school and college are increasingly being able to take more classes, as well as receive extra assistance via the internet and online communication.

One such program can be found at Wheeling Jesuit University, where professional educators can now earn a master's in education leadership degree in as little as 12 months, entirely online, with a flexible start date. The program provides real career advancement for both working educators and for those just entering the teaching profession.

Students in the program have a choice between two paths - one leading to a graduate degree in school and system leadership with licensure as a school principal, curriculum supervisor and superintendent; the other leading to a graduate degree in instructional leadership for teacher leaders. The license is transferrable to nearly every state.

Students enrolling in the program are assigned advisers who ensure the program is customized to meet their needs, including work schedules and family responsibilities. Wheeling Jesuit is a national leader in student-faculty interactions. The online aspect of the program makes it available to just about everyone.

Instructors for the program are educators with decades of real-world experience in public schools. They include Connie Myer, Bonnie Ritz, and Larry Jones. All three hold doctorate degrees.

Overall, many online courses are structured so that they are no different than sitting in a class room, which meets two or three times per week like undergraduate experiences consist of. Instead, students can log in and view work each week, get their assignments and possibly view video streams of each class, bringing a traditional lecture class right to your desktop at home.

Like Wheeling Jesuit, even more traditional four-year colleges are beginning to incorporate online offerings to some of their student body.

One local college has even begun to allow traditional students to complete some coursework via online offerings in the summer. Bethany College President Scott Miller pointed out students are now able to take a set amount of hours online during their college career.

"Bethany permits students to take 12 semester hours of online courses from the college during their four years here. This summer, we offered online summer school courses. While keeping the requirement limiting students to 12 semester hours of online study, we intend to expand the number of offerings," Miller explained.

"This allows our students to develop technological proficiency, while maintaining our commitment to the residential liberal arts experience."

West Virginia's parochial schools also offer online math help for all students, each evening, from a certified teacher.



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