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A Degree of Flexibility

A Degree of Flexibility

By L.A. Warren

While the JSUOnline degree program at Jackson State University is becoming more popular with traditional students, it’s especially helping nontraditional students pursue their educational goals.

“Since many people can’t take time away from work, online assists them. With the way things are in the world, you must have online to reach the busy population. Family members and parents have jobs, children, church and other activities. Yet, many still want an education,” said Tamika Moorehead, assistant director of JSUOnline. Furthermore, she said, the online program is great for people living in faraway ZIP codes.

JSUOnline, located in the INNOVATE Center in the H.T. Sampson Library on the main campus, began with seven programs in Fall 2014. Today, it has 19. Before the inception of JSUOnline, the university outsourced this service to a Florida company, which offered two degrees. Eventually, JSU restructured the program, bringing the operation in-house.

“JSUOnline already has accepted 68 new students — freshmen and transfer students,” Moorehead said. “The vision of the program is to continue to expand degree offerings, including criminal justice and social work.”

This spring, JSUOnline graduated its first class, conferring 18 undergraduate degrees in early childhood education and two MBA graduate degrees. It also enrolled 306 students and aims to at least double that number in the near future.

“Family members and parents have jobs, children, church and other activities. Yet, many still want an education.” – Tamika Moorehead, assistant director of JSUOnline

Keith Riley, academic evaluator for JSUOnline, said the program focuses on providing quality support to faculty and students. Because there is no face-to-face interaction with the instructor, he says students must be disciplined by not falling behind in the accelerated classes that last just eight weeks. “We monitor carefully to see if students are active in their classes. We also monitor faculty.”

Additionally, Riley says the JSUOnline team pays strict attention to other needs of enrollees. “We deal with financial aid and registration, including advising online. We take care of them totally.”

Meanwhile, Moorehead agrees with other academic officers throughout the country who say that an online curriculum is critical for institutions’ long-term strategy. “I believe the way things are within the world, we thrive by providing a method to help people reach the next level of their careers.”

This fall, she said, the program will include an evaluation system that measures class setup, quality and content.

“Using this rubric, we will be able to improve standards. By improving quality, we also can increase the number of our online courses,” Moorehead said. ONEJSU

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