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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

College is going digital

Courtesy+of+the+UA+Office+of+CommunicationsVin+Del+Casino+is+the+Vice+Provost+for+Digital+Learning+and+Student+Engagement.+He+said+he+hopes+the+UA+online+campus+has+at+least+3%2C500+students+enrolled.

Courtesy of the UA Office of Communications

Vin Del Casino is the Vice Provost for Digital Learning and Student Engagement. He said he hopes the UA online campus has at least 3,500 students enrolled.

Nationally, there has been a change in the demographics of people who wish to attend university, and the UA is responding to this trend by launching UA Online.

UA Online would provide a web-based university experience that would allow students to enroll in online degree programs.

“As our economy continues to demand increased skills that only an advanced degree or certificate can provide, more adult learners will want to have access to the best institutions of higher learning, such as the UA,” said Vincent Del Casino Jr., vice provost for Digital Learning and Student Engagement.

The UA Online campus hopes to recruit approximately 3,500 students, including 2,700 graduate and 800 undergraduate students, in its first year.

The rapid enrollment rate in UA Online reflects an increase in the popularity of online courses. Christopher Impey, a UA professor for the College of Science, currently teaches two online courses with more than 40,000 students.

“[UA Online] wants to create learner communities so people feel connected with the other students and see connections between subjects they study,” Impey said.

Del Casino emphasized that the development of the online campus is the UA’s way of expanding opportunities.

“This form of education is particularly important to UA-qualified students who cannot attend courses regularly in a face-to-face format,” he said.

The UA’s new online educational program will be taught by both faculty and graduate students. As for tuition, starting rates are $490 per unit, which differs from the considerably more expensive main campus tuition rates.

Kristina Valdez, a nutritional sciences sophomore, is one student who has enrolled in online courses at the UA.

“The class I took was very beneficial to me,” Valdez said. “It pushed me to work harder, because it was on my own time.”

Valdez, who plans on being a pharmacist, said that her profession requires human interaction, and some online courses can be extremely difficult because of a lack of interaction between instructors and students.

Since the UA is a top-ranked public research university globally, Del Casino said it is important for the university to provide increased access to the UA’s programs.

Impey said he prefers to teach face-to-face, and although online classes are less hands-on, “online is here to stay, so I want to learn how to do it as well as possible. … More and more students have jobs and families, and they want and need the flexibility that online classes provide.”

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Follow Terrie Brianna on Twitter.

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