In 2009, the University System of Georgia, the organizational body that includes 30 public institutions of higher learning throughout the state, offered 1,571 online classes. Now, it offers more than 5,000 online courses. This can be a great option for Atlanta relocators and their family members looking for education options to fit their lifestyles
“USG has seen a continuous trend of increasing student enrollments in online courses and programs,” says Jon Sizemore, assistant vice chancellor for distance education with the organization.
The most common online courses in general education are Composition I and II, American Literature, American Government and Sociology. The most commonly offered online degrees by subject area are Graduate Teacher Education Programs, Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences, Business, Management and Marketing, Computer and Information Sciences and Social Sciences.
When asked what is drawing more college-level students to take online courses or programs, Sizemore says. “Online courses and programs provide increased flexibility for students when arranging school, family and work schedules. Many traditional age students may take one or two online courses, in addition to their on-campus courses as a way of arranging the most convenient schedule. For non-traditional students, online courses may present the only option to return to college.”
In addition, online degree programs play a big role in Gov. Nathan Deal’s “Go Back. Move Ahead” campaign, which encourages adult learners in Georgia to return to college and receive a college credential.
“The Board of Regents is making college completion more accessible and more affordable through expansion of eCore, the USG’s online core curriculum, and Affordable Learning Georgia is developing free electronic textbooks for the USG’s top 50 undergraduate courses,” Sizemore adds.
Benefits of online courses and programs include:
- Providing students with convenience and flexibility in planning their learning. Students participate in online classes on their schedule, when and where they need it. Online courses and programs can help students stay in college, progress through college and graduate.
- Online learning materials provide students with more opportunities to study, practice and review. Online lectures, discussions and assignments allow every student to contribute to the class.
- Students save time and money by not having to physically travel to campus. Also, more and more online courses in the USG are saving students money by using open educational resources rather than expensive textbooks.
- Students have more access to degree choices because the online programs of USG’s institutions serve the entire state.
Kristy Mobley, technology and online program manager at Kennesaw State University’s College of Continuing and Professional Education, says enrollments in the more than 350 online courses and certificates they offer has remained steady over the last several years.
“We see growth when new courses or certificates are added and at certain times of the year. For example, the first of the year, as well as during the summer, is typically when we see our highest enrollments in online classes,” Mobley says. “We also see growth in certain fields, which changes from time to time. One of the programs that has seen growth recently is our online Georgia Real Estate Pre-license certificate. This program prepares students for the state salesperson licensing exam and provides the number of education hours required by the state to sit for the licensing exam upon successful completion.”
The top five most popular online certificate programs offered at KSU have been bookkeeping, medical billing and coding and technical writing. “Among the monthly six-week courses, project management, web design and programming classes are typically our most popular, as well as the PLU-approved (professional learning units) courses we offer for Georgia educators,” Mobley adds.
Students who have taken advantage of KSU’s offerings seem pleased with the outcome. Keisha Robinson, who is a 2014 graduate of the online Georgia Real Estate Sales Pre-license course says, “I was nervous about making a career change from corporate accounting to real estate. Thus far, everything has fallen into place. Thanks to the KSU Continuing Education online staff for all their support in completing my Real Estate Pre-licensure course! I have received my official license and have selected to affiliate with Coldwell Banker Dunwoody. Sometimes you gotta take chances in life. I’m betting my money on me!”
Robinson adds that the course was very helpful. “Because of the way the course was set up, I could study when I had the time to study. Because I do have a young child, I needed to be flexible,” she says. “Then once I signed up for the course, I put it on my resume and that’s how one of the brokers found me by searching my resume online. It has worked out.”
Natalee Leslie, who graduated from two online classes in Medical Administrative Specialist and Medical Billing and Coding, says she earned the certificate to help with her career at WellStar Health System, one of the areas largest healthcare providers. “It equipped me with what I needed to get further and move from the front desk to being able to do more administrative duties,” she says. “I’ve taken online courses before and I feel like this prepared me more. In the program I took, they have you simulate a day in the life at a doctor’s office. And I felt more prepared for that.”