Online learning finds new home at MU

During the 2010-11 school year, 5,384 undergraduate students enrolled in online classes.
MU offers students different ways to take classes by fitting them into personal schedules. The university has seen an increase in students taking online courses.

Online learning is exploding at MU in both graduate and undergraduate studies, bringing a 100-year history of distance learning to a new home and a new generation of students.

According to MU Online, enrollment in MU eLearning programs during the 2010-11 school year included 3,001 graduate students and 5,384 undergraduate students for a total of 8,385 students. This growth coincides with an increase in course offerings from about 300 to 550. Just a decade ago, MU had 11 online degrees or certificates. Today students can find more than 75 degrees available online.

During the 2010-11 school year, MU eLearning programs generated 46,699.5 student credit hours.  

Academic Advisor Joanna Davis said she has seen an increase in students electing to supplement traditional brick and mortar learning with eLearning classes. Davis attributes the shift to the added convenience of the online format for working students and the addition of online classes to the MyZou catalog, which allows students to see online options while registering for traditional classes.   "Online classes still provide the same type of academic rigor,” Davis said. “The mode of instruction is different, not the content.”

Although all online classes must gain approval from MU, many students are still concerned about the educational quality of the classes. Some tend to think that taking classes specific to one's degree program online may be a risky practice.

“If it was within my major, I would want to have an instructor to provide more information and insight than I would get from just learning on a computer,” freshman Ryan Struemph said.

Other students, such as freshman Chance Williams, think the quality of online classes may be somewhat compromised, but the increased number of opportunities will lead to a stronger and more efficient educational experience.

“Online learning can be a very convenient and efficient way to pick up more credit hours between a rigorous course load and work,” Williams said.

MU’s eLearning system has evolved throughout the years. Originally, online learning was conducted through two different programs: MU Direct and the Center for Distance and Independent Study. MU Direct provided courses that were synchronized with MU's semester schedule, and CDIS provided asynchronous, self-placed courses that students could take up to nine months to complete.

By placing MU Direct and CDIS under one roof on July 1, 2011, MU built Mizzou Online, a one-stop shop for distance education.

MU now ranks second in the Big 12 Conference in the number of distance offerings and offers more options than any school in the Big 10 Conference.

MU now enrolls students across Missouri, the United States and the world. During the previous academic year, MU enrolled students from every state and 49 countries in distance courses.

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