SHERIDAN — More and more students are foregoing face-to-face classes on campus for online learning opportunities, Director of Distance and Distributive Learning Stoney Gaddy said Thursday at the Northern Wyoming Community College District board meeting.
Some revealing statistics were discussed and showed national trends support the efforts and investments of Gaddy and his department at the college. One in every three higher education courses nationwide are taken online and the faces of the students enrolling in those classes are changing.
In 2002, the average age of an online student was 27 and has since risen to 34.
From 2008-2009 the number of full-time equivalent online students increased 162 percent, and last summer online course enrollment surpassed that of face-to-face summer classes.
Currently, 894 of the online NWCCD students reside in Wyoming but the offerings have reached beyond the state borders as well, with 43 of the students enrolled logging on from other states. Of the Wyoming-based students, 396 live in Sheridan.
Currently the college offers 13 programs that can be completed entirely online and several others that can be completed more than 90 percent online. However, the majority of programs at the college still require some form of classroom education.
Gaddy was quick to note that the online education can never fully replace campus life, especially at a college like Sheridan where so many of the programs involve extensive lab time.
In other business:
• An early retirement request was approved for Deb Kaiser, who has recently passed away, ensuring her family will receive the benefits to which she was eligible.
• A state requirement to hold a public hearing once every two years prior to the board re-approving one mill levy was fulfilled, and after no public comments were made, it was unanimously approved for the next two fiscal years.
• Two members of the SC music department recently received honors. Fine arts faculty member Chris Erickson submitted a piece and won in a composition competition sponsored by Casper’s ARTCORE organization and music department faculty member Michael Flynn’s Blue Lake Brass Quintet was invited to play at the International Tuba Euphonium Association conference at Indiana University this month.
• A districtwide new technology, MyNWCCD — a portal which can be accessed by all faculty and students — will be rolled out soon and a kick-off celebration will be hosted June 5 from 2-4 p.m.
• The college’s space on the second floor of the WYO Theater will be complete by the end of the month and will host office space, classroom space and practice space via an open room with workstations but no walls. The use of the black box theater by students has already commenced and the college is entitled to 50 percent of that theater’s use.
• Progress is continuing with the new Thorne-Rider Campus Center and it is on track to be completed on budget and in time for a July move-in.
• Eleven staff members districtwide graduated this year with a degree or certificate.
• Susan Bigelow was approved to act as proxy at Sheridan Economic and Educational Development Authority meetings in the instances that Young and Trustee Scott Ludwig are unable to attend. If a representative of the college is not present, business cannot be conducted so the proxy is an attempt to ensure no future disruptions to SEEDA business.
• The board voted unanimously to allow Sheridan County School District 1 to join the Board of Cooperative Higher Education Services. Per law all current members — which includes NWCCD, Johnson County School District, Sheridan College and Campbell County High School — most vote to allow new members.