A grant provided to enhance distance learning is being put to good use as more and more students take advantage of online classes to go to college and teachers use e-learning options more and more effectively.
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education and is on track with their distance learning enhancement projects. As of October 1st, 2008, Tri-C received the Title III award of 2 million dollars to enhance distance learning at the college over the course of 5 years.
Title III awards come from the U.S. Department of Education with a program to help institutions of higher learning expand their capacity to serve students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability of eligible institutions.
Funds can be used for planning and faculty development as well as administrative management, plus the development and improvement of academic programs. Funds also support projects such as facilities use, construction and maintenance, and student service programs. These programs are meant to improve academic success, including innovative and customized instruction courses designed to help retain students.
Tri-C received a grant to enhance distance learning at the college over the course of 5 years. Grant committees were formed to execute the goals as prescribed by the grant. The committees include work on e-advising, infrastructure and technology, master courses, online student orientation, online tutoring, quality and course design, teaching for online learning, and a virtual front door.
The school is on track with progress on their initiatives and committee work and even ahead of schedule on certain parts of the program. The Office of eLearning and Innovation (eLi) at Tri-C coordinates much of the activity.
The original mission of eLi was to “broaden access to College courses and learning for those who wish to either begin or continue learning.” In 1975, Tri-C began with one distance course and 123 enrollments. In FY 2008, eLi offered 688 courses and 1141 sections with over 16,000 students, representing 14% of the college full time enrollment. With the adoption of a course management system, Blackboard, in FY 1999, enrollment in Web-based courses began to grow rapidly and significantly.
In 1999, a committee was formed to “review and develop necessary and appropriate recommendations related to distance learning.” In 2006, a Distance Learning Strategic Planning process was initiated, culminating in a report with a recommendatino to offer fully online degrees. This prompted Tri-C to apply for accreditation of the College’s distance learning programs.
In July 2008, the College received approval to offer three fully online degrees. In order to address several of the other recommendations, Tri-C applied for and received a five-year, $2 million dollar grant from the Department of Education.
The grant focuses on four key areas in distance learning: academic support, infrastructure and technology, faculty preparedness, and quality.