Western recognized for online achievement

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 10:32 am
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Updated: 10:42 am, Fri Jan 17, 2014.

Western recognized for online achievement

Jacqueline Covey

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Western Illinois University’s online Bachelor of the Arts in General Studies (BGS) degree has been recognized for the third consecutive year by U.S. News Best Online Education Program rankings. 


The BGS program, which allows students to complete their degrees exclusively online, or in addition to on-campus courses, was ranked 61 out of 210 in the  “Best Online Education Degree Programs Bachelor’s” category. 

Western is one of the three public universities in Illinois to be in the top 100 universities recognized. 

“WIU is doing well in comparison to the other 201 colleges that were considered for this honor. To be well beyond the top half, we’re doing very well amongst (the other) institutions across the country — and that’s what I like seeing,” Robert Carter, executive director of the School of Distance Learning, International Studies and Outreach, said. 

Western will be recognized by the U.S. News Best Online Education Programs at its website www.usnews.com/education/online-education and through the Chronicle of Higher Education. 

“It’s nice to be on a winning team,” Carter said. ”It’s nice to see WIU recognized for the hard work that we do.”

Carter explain, is to recognize the professors conducting the online courses as a crucial piece to the degree program. 

“We don’t compromise just to use the technology for technology’s sake. We work with that professor that is teaching the class,” Carter said. “They’re the subject matter experts; they know it better that anyone we have here on this campus. They are the driving force behind the content within the course set and we give them the skills by working with the technology expert to help them build those courses. We’re really using the best pieces of campus to put these courses together.”

In the ‘70s, the BGS became Western’s first degree at a distance. Now the online program offers 222 undergraduate and 80 graduate courses. 

“We’ve been offering it at a distance since the ‘70s when it was paper and pencil, and using the mail and correspondence,” Carter said. “So as technology changed, we changed with it. We fully evolved to fully online and online courses.” 

The program’s flexibility allows students to do course work on their own time away from distractions. For this reason, Carter described Western has a suitable “educational source” for those military students who are in training. 

“(The online degree program) will allow them to continue receiving an education while serving their country,” Carter said. 

Carter sees a promising future for the Distance Learning program. Carter explained that students are becoming more involved by nonacademic life distractions, which has created a higher demand for online courses. 

“The demand continues to grow,” he said. “People have a lot more things pulling on them, I think for WIU this will be an on growing process.”

Although Carter believes the enrollment will be continually increasing, he reassured that it won’t conflict with Western’s on-campus admission but rather help the university reach beyond the physical campus.  

“I don’t see this taking away from any of WIU’s on-campus courses,” Carter said. “It really gives WIU a chance to expand beyond the buildings on campus.”

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Friday, January 17, 2014 10:32 am.

Updated: 10:42 am.

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