By Matthew Liedke
North Dakota State College of Science received recognition for its virtual campus recently as it was ranked among the top 100 best two-year online colleges in the country.
Coming in at No. 40, NDSCS received this recognition from BestColleges.com, a website that compiles lists of different types of colleges and programs.
“We are very honored being the only two-year North Dakota college listed,” said Trish Schrom, dean of extended learning at NDSCS. “Online education is a growing field, and to be named in the top 100, it’s quite an honor.”
Schrom said NDSCS has been offering online classes for 12 years and the ranking, “Validates that we have a good basis for quality standards and that we have reputable faculty and very qualified staff.”
According to a press release issued by NDSCS, the school currently offers 11 online options, including architectural drafting and estimating technology, business technology management, certificate to A.A.S. practical nursing curriculum plan, health information technician, liberal arts/transfer, marketing management, medical coding, pharmacy technician, technical studies, Web design and Web developer.
In a statement from NDSCS President John Richman, “We are honored to receive the designation. This is an affirmation of the college’s online options for those students who are not able to be on campus.”
“We have between 700 and 800 students taking online classes during the course of a semester,” Schrom said. “About 300 are online only. The rest are taking classes at either our campus or our Fargo location and an online class to work into their schedule. They usually do this to get the college experience and still have more flexibility.”
Schrom added the online programs are also good for non-traditional students because of the scheduling ability it allows.
“For non-traditional students, many of them may have other obligations. A lot of the time, school isn’t their only obligation, so this gives them that flexibility,” she said.
“It’s a challenge to bring the full college experience, though,” Schrom added. “Most of the courses are taught by our regular faculty who also teach on campus, so they try to get that social interaction they would in the classrooms through ways of discussion boards.
“A lot of teachers are also using virtual labs,” Schrom continued. “They are going in and doing interactive work. For example, during a speech class students may record their speeches and the online class allows other students and the instructor to hear it.”
Because of the growing online presence in today’s world, Schrom expects that it will have a larger influence in the classroom in the coming years.
“I think a trend will be a blended approach, where students might spend two-thirds of a class online and the other part of it be face-to-face,” Schrom explained.
Regardless of what the future holds, NDSCS is committed to continuing its online presence with high standards.
“We really do make sure that all of our classes online deliver a certain level of quality,” Schrom said.
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