One criticism of online education is that, on average, pursuing a four-year degree is more expensive online than on campus. At Sam Houston State University Online, that’s not the case.

college-moneyTo provide our online students with the same quality education and level of service our on-campus students enjoy, we staff dedicated employees and utilize modern and safeguarded technology to deliver online courses. This added cost of delivery requires a distance-learning fee for online students. However, the fee is somewhat offset by waivers for other on-campus
service fees that online students are not required to pay since they are not on campus.

In the end, SHSU Online students enjoy all the benefits of being an online student at a cost quite similar to that of SHSU on-campus students.

In addition to numerous intangibles, including the cost of vehicle maintenance and gas to commute to campus, the foremost benefit to taking classes online is convenience. Your coursework is available on your time. If you need to listen to a lecture, participate in online class discussions, or ask a question, you may do so, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Online education provides opportunities for students that may be otherwise unavailable. College students of all ages and backgrounds have the freedom to work their education into their otherwise busy lives, which can be invaluable for those working long or unconventional hours, raising a family, or living in areas with geographic constraints.

We live in a time where technology bridges gaps across the globe, and consequently, opens the door to opportunities previously unavailable. If a student in China is interested in pursuing SHSU’s online Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice, they may do so, from the convenience of their own home. In fact, students from India, Norway, Canada, and Vietnam are currently enrolled in online classes at SHSU!

We have numerous success stories of students who took unconventional paths to return to college and complete their degree, and more often than not, our students say they would not be able to reach this milestone without the assistance of SHSU Online.

We know that SHSU students’ needs are as unique as the students themselves, and we pride ourselves on serving them. We’ve been honored to receive numerous awards through the years for the quality of our programs.

Invest in your future. Visit http://distance.shsu.edu today.

career-change

It’s never too late to have the career you want!

Advancing your education or your career is not just an adventure for the young. No matter what your age or what you want to be, it’s never too late to have the career you want. Here are five tips to help you get started.

  1. Research Your Target Field/Industry: When online student Meredith Carey graduated with a BA in Sociology, she found herself ill-prepared for the job market. After getting a part-time job, she spent a lot of time researching what exactly she needed to get a research job in her field. She found out that it required more education and more hands-on experience. Research what kind of education and/or combination of experience that jobs in your field require.
  1. Research the Your Field/Industry Community: Meredith also immersed herself in the sociology community by attending conferences and seminars, and networking with others who already had jobs in the field she was trying to enter. This helped her expand her options in terms of where she might find a job—in academia, non-profits, or public research firms.
  1. Research What You Need: Before committing to a degree program, Meredith first identified what she could and couldn’t do. She couldn’t move, at least not at present. She needed to keep working her part-time job, not only for the income but also to maintain her health insurance. And she needed an accredited program that offered quality coursework balanced with plenty of hands-on experiences.
  1. Research Degree Programs: With all these needs in mind, Meredith researched colleges that offered programs that met her needs. In the end, she chose Sam Houston State University Online after checking off her needs list.
  1. Compare your present needs with your future hopes: Starting a new career often means starting over in a new town. What are you willing to sacrifice to follow your passion? Ask yourself (and your family): are you ready for a possible relocation? What are the salaries in your field as compared to what you make now? Can you handle a pay cut? Meredith knows that she’ll probably have to move to get a job in her field, but she and her husband are on the same page and are prepared for that eventuality.

Changing careers doesn’t have to be painful. Lay the groundwork by doing your research—not only in your target field or industry, but also by asking yourself some tough questions and you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way. Find out how online students Meredith Carey and David Davenport are using an online education to advance their careers.

Are you ready for a promotion or a career change? Explore our many online degree and certificate programs —it’s never too late to have the career you want!

Online Schools Center has included SHSU in a list of the top U.S. online schools that “offer the discerning learner the finest education using the most progressive technology.” SHSU ranked #15 on the list, ahead of such institutions as UCLA, Johns Hopkins and Boston University.

techThe list from Online Schools Center cited numerous reasons for ranking SHSU so highly this year, starting with SHSU’s seven lecture theaters that have been equipped with interactive television technology. These rooms, which are operational at both main campus and The Woodlands Center, enable classes to be streamed live to distance learners, with the added benefit of adjustable cameras and multiple microphones. The list also mentioned SHSU’s effective utilization of Blackboard to organize course content while also empowering web-based students to use the university’s library, career services and writing hub.

Online Schools Center describes itself as a resource geared towards business professionals, busy stay at home moms and dads, and those with full schedules whom would prefer an online option. To learn more about Online Schools Center and view the complete list of rankings, visit their website.

SHSU’s Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D., was recently interviewed by NBC Learn to discuss the benefits of integrating NBC Learn HigherEd’s digital library to supplement her courses.

Holzweiss teaches online courses for the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling, and her incorporation of the resource is an example of SHSU faculty using technology to facilitate learning outside of conventional resources.

The original interview may be found at “NBCLearn in the Classroom.”

Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D.

Peggy C. Holzweiss, Ph.D.

Peggy Holzweiss teaches a graduate-level class called “Internship Resource Management in Higher Education” at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. Holzweiss assigns NBC Learn videos as homework and uses them to introduce topics and prompt discussion. She says NBC Learn sets the stage for what students are learning in a short amount of time.

Holzweiss: “It’s hard for my students to imagine something like the Kent State shooting happening today. But with NBC Learn, I can transport them to that time and contextualize what was going on in the world at that time.

NBC Learn: How do your students respond to NBC Learn videos?

Holzweiss: “NBC Learn videos are always in the form of a story. My students pay attention to stories because there is a natural connection between people.  NBC Learn videos are tailored to their attention span, and they love having a visual component to balance out their reading.”

NBC Learn: How do you use NBC Learn videos?

Holzweiss: “When we discuss how society views higher education, I can show specific examples of the state of funding in higher education. I want my students to see how people outside the world of academia are thinking, and put things into perspective for the students.”

NBC Learn: Why do you use NBC Learn?

“I really like NBC Learn’s brevity and quality. Combining those two things is incredibly important when you are teaching. It helps the students find a balance between the text and the real world. Whenever I can add a component that helps them enjoy the class like NBC Learn does, I am certainly going to use it.”

Pursuing an advanced degree—no matter if you start at 18, 28 or 58—is a journey filled with great rewards and its fair share of challenges. One major challenge actually has nothing to do with, say, writing a paper or passing an exam; it’s about balance. How do you balance your education with everything else; that is, family, a full-time job, a second job, and a social life? Here are five tips to help get you started.

  1. Establishing a balance between your online education and everything else.

    Get some tips on balancing your online education with everything else in your life

    The Boy Scouts have it right: Be Prepared. That means planning ahead when assignments are due and in relation to what’s going on in the rest of your life. Don’t schedule doctor’s appointments for you and your three kids the day before a major exam, for example. Life can be unpredictable, but if you plan your week ahead of time, you’re in a position of power and can make adjustments as needed.

  2. Be Clear on What You Need and Communicate It. After all that planning, things sometimes can go awry. That’s why it’s important to let people know if you need help and how you need help. Do you need one precious hour to finish a paper before a getaway weekend? Do you need some encouragement and a kind word? Can someone put out the trash? Ask for help.
  3. Develop A Support Network. It does take a village! Your regular support network may be great at giving you encouragement but how are they are AP style? Or technical issues with your computer? Diversify your support network. Sometimes you only have problems that your professor or classmate can help you with. Other times, you might call on the friendly help desk at the library. Be sure to call on them when you need them.
  4. Listen to your Support Network. Sometimes the people who see us clearly are the ones looking in from the outside. If your family lets you know they see you’re overtaxed or maybe your work is suffering, listen when they tell you to take a break. They have your best interests at heart.
  5. Find and Use Your Tools. In this technological day and age you can be sure there’s an app for that. Start or join a Facebook support group with your classmates, add assignment due dates into your calendar and sync it with your smart phone. Take advantage of Blackboard Mobile to check in from anywhere using your phone or tablet. Find out what kind of tools help you and use them.

Just remember, don’t forgot to enjoy your educational journey: it’s the small, day to day successes that help you grow personally as well as academically.

Find out what these online students had to say about finding balance in their lives.

The College of Business Administration offers a unique perspective on project management through the online Master of Science in Project Management degree, a program committed to positioning students to launch new products and services into rapidly changing environments.

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Pamela Zelbst, Ph.D., PMP, associate professor of Management and director of the Center for Innovation & Technology, says the College of Business Administration took their time to ensure the online program would prepare their students to make an immediate impact in the workplace.

“Developing the online M.S. in Project Management is something we’ve been working on for a very long time; five years ago we began meeting to determine what would most benefit our online students,” she says. “The nice thing about this degree is most project management degrees will be in Information Technology, whereas our degree is offered through the College of Business Administration. There are very few programs in the country with that emphasis, and we feel we bring a unique perspective to the table.”

One of the requirements for admission into the program is three years of significant managerial and professional experience. Zelbst says this requirement allows for students to contribute to meaningful class discussions as well as act as a facilitator for personal experience amongst peers.

The program emphasizes student preparation for certification by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the premier certifying organization for the project management discipline.

Zelbst says she consistently receives feedback from her students throughout the semester regarding how quickly students are able to incorporate their coursework into their professional settings.

“The program is practical in nature, which allows for students to assess situations quickly and incorporate change when necessary,” she says. “Our faculty work very hard to develop our curriculum for the program and a whole team of people are working to push the program forward. Project management is a passion, and companies are looking for people who can make things happen”

The program’s thinking outside of the box philosophy has led students to working alongside top businesses across the world, including a recent project with NASA.

Visit http://distance.shsu.edu to find out more about the online Master of Science in Project Management offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

Graduate certificates have seen a dramatic increase in popularity due to the minimal time commitment necessary to complete the certificate and the immediate return on the student’s investment as it relates to job placement and/or promotion.

shutterstock_176126174Sam Houston State University’s College of Education offers nine online graduate certificates, allowing students to pursue a variety of specializations in targeted fields that can stand alone or be used in combination with a master’s degree, where applicable.

For example, the completion of the online Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, consisting of 15 credit hours, represents half of the required credits necessary to receive a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration, should the student decide to seek the degree. Students could enroll in the master’s program following the completion of the certificate and be halfway to completing the degree.

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Dr. Matthew Fuller Assistant Professor

Matt Fuller, Ph.D., the academic advisor for the Graduate Certificate in Academic Advising, says of the 49 students enrolled in the certificate program, 41 students are pursuing the certificate in tandem with the M.A. in Higher Education Administration.

“When people look to obtain a graduate certificate, they want to know the program that is being offered is vigorous, and that the program will highlight a professional focus,” he says. “We have top-notch faculty teaching programs in our certificate program, and we have seen tremendous success resulting in the completion of the certificate.”

Fuller says 89% of students who completed the certificate accepted a new job or a promotion in their current position as a result of the completion of the certificate.

The success and student interest of the certificate program has guaranteed at least one new certificate, “Assessment in Institutional Research,” available Fall 2014.

For more information about online graduate certificates, visit distance.shsu.edu.

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 3.18.08 PMAs we celebrate our nation’s independence, consider a statement from Texas legend Sam Houston:

“The benefits of education and of useful knowledge… are essential to the preservation of a free government.”

Whether you are seeking a new career, wanting to advance your education, or curious to discover more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.

 

For many college students, the immediate choice to make following graduation is to either attend graduate school or to enter the workplace, but SHSU Class of 2010 graduate Brittany Wilbert decided to do both.

After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Computing Science degree, Wilbert says she received two potentially life-changing messages on the same afternoon: an offer for a full-time position with an IT security company, and a letter of acceptance into the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program through SHSU Online.

“I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree, but I was afraid if I waited, I would be too involved in my career and other aspects of my life, and I wouldn’t be able to go back,” she says. “I think that happens with a lot of students, and I didn’t want to second guess myself; I knew it was something I wanted to do, and SHSU Online made it possible for me.”

Wilbert received her undergraduate degree in May 2010, and began her online master’s degree in August 2010.

Wilbert says she was able to immediately apply information technology practices derived from her undergraduate degree into her work responsibilities, as well as advanced studies simultaneously while attending class online.

While pursuing her undergraduate degree on campus, Wilbert received personalized guidance from Dr. Lei Chen, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, and says the nature of Dr. Chen’s student communication assisted her in the transition to taking online courses.

“Dr. Chen was always someone who sent frequent notifications to his students, so there wasn’t much change, other than physically seeing him in class,” she says.  “I’ve been in his classes since my undergraduate degree, and now as a graduate student, he has led me through my master’s project by giving me advice and assisting me in submitting papers to conferences.”

Wilbert cites her parents, Mark and Alfrieda, as one of the driving forces encouraging her to further her education, but her experience as a young woman adapting to a 40-hour work week while taking full-time classes required her to adjust quickly.

“As a young woman in a career field that has a low representation of women in the industry, being able to use the knowledge I learned at SHSU has given me the strength to understand there will be difficulties, but earning this degree will show I can do computer science related work as well as any of my male colleagues,” she says.  “Understanding that you have to give yourself time beyond working to take care of your schoolwork and realizing the investment I made in myself keeps me wanting to continue to be successful.”

Wilbert is scheduled to graduate in the Summer 2014 term.

Visit http://distance.shsu.edu to find out more about the online Master of Science in Information Assurance and Security program offered through SHSU Online, and see what you can do to get started today!

IMG_6944To say that the online MA in History has national appeal would be an understatement. This past spring, the program attracted students from all four corners of the country, and from as far away as the Hawaiian Islands. In fact, students in 19 of the 50 states were enrolled in courses 100% online.

So what exactly is drawing students from Maine to California and beyond to SHSU in such numbers? The answer is likely related to quality, value, and a commitment to embrace the online environment.

Delivering a quality online program has always been paramount to the History Department, and they are about to raise the bar even higher by adding three new professors to their ranks—all with PhDs—from the University of Chicago, Oxford, and Yale. With the online program already taught entirely by full-time faculty holding PhDs, the addition will bring even more depth to the roster.

Further, the program is a great value for online students. In 2013, Sam Houston State University was named one of the nation’s most affordable online colleges. AffordableCollegesOnline.org ranks SHSU as the most affordable online university in Texas, and the fourth most affordable in the nation.

Among the first fully online programs at SHSU, the department continues to embrace the online environment developing quality content, video, and innovative projects. One example of this is a new mobile app the department hopes to develop next year. The mobile app would allow users to conveniently browse historic East Texas sites using their smart phones and would give SHSU’s online history students the opportunity to write and publish their own original descriptions for hundreds of historic sites around the region. It’s the kind of involvement that not only helps students learn about history, but also provides them with something to add to their resume that sets them apart from the crowd.

As long as the opportunities for online students continue to grow, you can expect the online MA in History program to do the same in both its size and its national reach.

For more information about the online MA in History degree, visit distance.shsu.edu.

An exciting and useful resource for SHSU’s online students is on its way to Blackboard in the fall. As a result of a collaboration between the Newton Gresham Library and SHSU Online, students will soon find a new addition at the top of the page when they log in to Blackboard—a tab that will bring them to a Library Community Page. On
the librarylogorevpage, students will have access to a wealth of valuable information, including research guides which are custom-tailored to their major.

Blackboard already identifies students by major when they sign in, and this new project aims to take advantage of that capability to empower students with the tools they need to succeed. The new page will enable SHSU Online to take the library’s research guides, which are thoughtfully constructed by individual subject librarians in coordination with faculty, and deliver them directly into the hands of the students who need them the most. The guides contain important reference works, explain how to go about finding other books in the library, and have links to the databases that are most useful for finding journal articles pertinent to each student’s interests.

Erin Cassidy, the Newton Gresham Library’s Web Services Librarian, has noticed that professors who have already incorporated these resources into their online courses continually request them semester after semester. Cassidy, who is collaborating closely with SHSU Online to bring the Library Community Page to fruition, says the best thing about the new page is that it will meet online students at their point of need by having these resources featured prominently on Blackboard. She explains, “It’s a one-stop-shop that will show students the Library’s hours of operation, explain how to get in touch with the library with any questions they might have, and provide them with invaluable research guides.”

Ruth Cubas, Director of Online Course Development at SHSU Online, says the project is a part of SHSU Online’s larger commitment to providing students with the immediate, online availability of academic resources they can use to support their learning experience. Cubas notes, “We believe that by providing seamless access to academic resources, such as historical or literary documents, maps, case studies, photos, etc., we can support the wonderful academic efforts our professors engage in when working dedicatedly to create efficacious online learning environments.”

Project designer Jay Wilson, an Instructional Designer at SHSU Online with a background in Library Science herself, is also passionate about the project. “We want to give the library more of a presence on Blackboard, and this Community Page will do that.” Wilson’s coworker and fellow Instructional Designer Ray Scheel agrees, and he has already been incorporating research guides into individual online courses, most recently for the new College of Health Sciences. Scheel says the feedback has been extremely positive.

Ruth Cubas says the collaboration with the library just makes sense, and she is looking forward to rolling the project out in the fall. “We couldn’t be more pleased to partner with the Newton Gresham Library to create an intuitive point of access for our learners within Blackboard, a place they already frequent as part of their academic process.” Students can look for the new Library Community Page to arrive on Blackboard in Fall 2014.

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Welcome back, Bearkats! Today is the first day of classes for the Summer I session, but it’s not too late to enroll. Registration is open until tomorrow, so act fast and see what educational options are available through Sam Houston State University Online.

With 21 online master’s degrees, 4 online undergraduate degrees, and a variety of certificates, you can have your fun in the sun and an online degree, too!

Find a program that’s right for you at distance.shsu.edu and enroll today.

 

2014-MilitarySeveral of Sam Houston State University’s online programs performed very well in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of 2014 Best Online Programs for Veterans, which the magazine announced on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

Specifically, high-performing SHSU online programs ranked as follows:

  • Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs for Veterans – #2
  • Best Online Graduate Education Programs for Veterans- #5
  • Best Online Graduate Business Programs for Veterans- #12
  • Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans – #15

SHSU is proud to have earned these rankings, which place the university near the top in each case. The university’s #5 ranking in Graduate Education programs, for example, places it near the top of the overall list of 44 institutions recognized in that category. Similarly, the online bachelor’s programs rankings included 69 institutions, with SHSU’s rank of 15 placing it well in the top quarter of all schools on the list.

In U.S. News & World Report’s announcement of the 2014 results, the magazine noted: “To be ranked, an online degree program had to report participation in four key programs that offer educational benefits to people with military service. The rankings methodology requires programs to belong to institutions that are certified for the GI Bill; they must also belong to schools participating in the Yellow Ribbon Program or public institutions that charge in-state tuition for all out-of-state veterans…. Finally, all schools evaluated in this ranking must have been awarded a numerical rank in the overall 2014 U.S. News Best Online Programs rankings, which were released earlier this year. Those programs were assessed for various factors, including affordability, faculty credentials, student services and reputation.”

“I am thrilled to hear of our institution’s recognition in the rankings,” says Fernando Chavez, manager of SHSU’s Veterans Resource Center. “I hope this brings awareness to other veterans who are looking to further their education and that they will become part of the Bearkat nation.”

Sam Houston State University is proud to provide outstanding service to its students who have served their nation in the armed forces, and will remain committed to supporting our student veterans with the very best in online programs at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice has been an innovator in criminal justice education since 1963, and their online BA in Criminal Justice and online BS in Criminal Justice degrees offer students the convenience of an online program with the prestige that accompanies a degree from SHSU’s College of Criminal Justice.

The college takes great strides to ensure the online BA in Criminal Justice and online BS in Criminal Justice degrees provide students with the same quality education and professional benefits students attending class on campus receive.

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Kathy Latz, Clinical Assistant Professor

“Our online degree programs provide students with the same quality of instruction as our brick and mortar campuses,” says Dr. Kathy Latz, clinical assistant professor in the Masters of Victim Services Management program. “Distance learning is ideal for non-traditional students, including working professionals interested in pursuing a new career in the comfort of their own homes and at times that accommodate their busy schedules.”

Whereas the online BA in Criminal Justice and online BS in Criminal Justice degrees host the same core curriculum, the difference in degree specific requirements are catered to the student’s interests. The online BA in Criminal Justice degree requires 14 hours of foreign language hours, while the online BS in Criminal Justice degree requires specific tracks in philosophy and psychology.

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David C. Pyrooz, Assistant Professor

David C. Pyrooz, Ph.D, assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, says online courses also provide students with the ability to cater to their learning strengths.

“One of the best features of online courses is flexibility—whether I am teaching criminological theory, research methods, or my special topics, gangs, I ensure students can advance at their own pace,” he says. “This is important for students because they learn concepts, read the materials, and take tests at different speeds.”

Pyrooz says his online students are able to receive a quality education within their time constraints and at their own pace, allowing for an enjoyable learning experience.

“Such flexibility is not possible in the classroom, which is the primary difference between the courses I teach in person and the courses I teach online,” he says. “Regardless of the devices students use to complete their assignments, or the location where students complete their assignments, this flexibility is advantageous to students to create a positive learning environment.”

Visit http://distance.shsu.edu to find out more about their online BA in Criminal Justice and online BS in Criminal Justice degrees offered through SHSU Online, and see how you can get started today!

thermAre you trying to get ahead in your education while others sweat through the dog days of summer?

Be made in the shade and see what educational options Sam Houston State University Online offers in the summer term. We offer 4 online undergraduate degrees, 21 online master’s degrees, and more to further your education and open the door to new and exciting career opportunities.

Find a program that’s right for you at distance.shsu.edu and enroll today. The last day to register for the first Summer term is May 30.

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skypeSam Houston State University students who attend online classes may not be on the SHSU campus very often, but thanks to the university’s Career Services office, online students have access to a multitude of resources to help them consider, choose, and pursue a career following graduation.

Here are some of the ways Career Services can help online students:

Jobs for Kats (www.jobsforkats.com) is the “Bearkat to Employer connection,” where students and alumni can locate full-time and part-time jobs, summer work and internship positions, as well as on-campus and work-study jobs. The Jobs for Kats program also schedules interviews (on campus) for full-time jobs and internships, refers students’ resumes to potential employers, and maintains lists of employers participating in job fairs.

Online career assessments, including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII), are available at no cost to SHSU students and alumni. Students interested in taking these assessments should call Career Services at (936) 294-1713 to obtain a
username and password and to schedule an appointment with a counselor to discuss assessment results and consultation. For the convenience of online students, these meetings can be conducted via Skype or phone. Career Services also provides career counseling to students, again via Skype session, by appointment on request.

Need help with online resumes or cover letters? Career Services provides individual downloadable templates on their website. Students can also download an entire package containing a guide and templates if they prefer.

A number of major/career exploration resources, once only available in print form, are now available online, including “What Can I Do With This Major”, JOB Choices, the O*NET, and The Occupational Outlook Handbook.

In keeping with the old saying “practice makes perfect”, Career Services also provides access to a program called InterviewStream©, which allows students to participate in mock online interviews… anytime and anywhere. Interview questions can be customized to align with students’ majors or career fields. Students can access this program by logging into their Jobs for Kats account (webcam and microphone required). Counselors from Career Services are available to critique these mock interviews and offer helpful feedback.

And when it’s time for the real thing, Career Services also facilitates employer-student interviews via Skype, either at the office’s Career Center or from the student’s home (if they have Skype on their personal computer), as long as both parties agree to this arrangement.

In addition to all of these resources, the Career Services office hopes to provide online webinars on various topics involving careers for the benefit of students in the near future. More details on webinars will be announced as the programs become available.

In short, SHSU is committed to providing as many career-related resources for online students as for traditional students attending classes on campus. When you are ready to begin exploring your career options or preparing to enter the job market, contact Career Services at (936) 294-1713 or careerservices@shsu.edu for more information.

After nearly 40 years as an educator, Teri Lesesne, professor of library science, has been privy to a multitude of changes in the classroom, but she views the incorporation of online learning to be among the most profound and beneficial inclusions to date.

“At Sam Houston State University, we’ve really changed how we deliver instruction to non-traditional students, meaning students who are unavailable to attended class on campus or between the hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” she says. “Part of our jobs as educators is to find other ways to reach our students, and the online format requires us to think of how our course will thrive in a virtual environment.”

lesesne

Dr. Teri Lesesne, professor of library science

Lesesne has been with the College of Education for nearly 25 years, and has spent the past four years teaching Literature for Children and Literature for Young Adults courses as part of the online Master of Library Science program.

Given the structure of the curriculum, Lesesne is able to view the arch of her students’ online learning evolution, teaching them one of their first online courses in Literature for Children and nearing the completion of their degree in
the Literature for Young Adults course.

“The development of some students can be profound between the courses I teach, and other times, it can be consistent; it really depends on the student’s approach to online learning,” she says. “It can be fun to see how far students have come in terms of their communication with peers or timeliness of their responses.”

Lesesne says the first priority of her online courses—as in her face-to-face courses—is to establish camaraderie and communication among her students. She says the process of forming relationships with her online students is organic and at their convenience.

“Building a community is a priority; to show we are in the course together, talking about our experiences and sharing what we’ve encountered and the challenges we could potentially face in the field of library science,” she says. “Building relationships is the way to understand that we are no longer speaking about regional problems, necessarily, because we have students from across the nation and at times, other parts of the world.”

Lesesne also encourages students to learn about her through her blog posts, Facebook and Twitter profiles, and other social media outlets.

One challenge Lesesne and her colleagues in the Department of Library Science faced in teaching the program online was the absence of physical media, particularly not placing books in their students’ hands. As a substitute, Lesesne has utilized technological applications such as screencasts and podcasts to explain assignments and provide demonstration.

Lesesne says she forms a special bond with her online students, one based in real-world circumstances.

“I come to know my students well, including their study habits and execution of assignments, and I know they need just as much feedback and support as students in my face-to-face courses,” she says. “The benefit of the online format is students can work when they have time, and I can get back to them quickly. Students can be in touch with me any time; online students, I find, are much more comfortable sending me an email at 2 a.m.”

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Online enrollment numbers at SHSU continue to soar, but what does an “average” online student look like? We ran the age and gender statistics of students registered in the Spring 2014 term taking 100% of their courses online, and here’s what we found.

Students enrolled: 2,223

1,458 female students
765 male students

Student Ages: 18-72 years old

Mean (average): 32.37
Median (middle value): 30
Mode (value that appears most often): 23

Age range and population of SHSU online students

As you can see, anyone can be an online student at SHSU.

In addition to three online undergraduate degree programs, SHSU offers 24 graduate degree programs, including one doctoral program and one special program for members of the U.S. military, as well as 22 online certificate programs. For more information on any of SHSU’s online programs, visit distance.shsu.edu.

A Sam Houston State University finance professor invested long-term in teaching online, and says the return on his investment has been worth its weight in gold.

Balasundram Maniam, a professor in the College of Business Administration, was at the forefront of online learning for the college when he began teaching online courses in the Fall 2009 semester.

“To prepare for teaching online, I read a lot about what was developing in the field of education, and I saw how technology was changing things; what was available and what could be done in courses,” he says. “I had my reservations, but I soon went from a skeptic to a believer; I’m preaching online learning now.”

Bala-1

In November, Maniam was recognized as a Regents’ Professor by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System for his “lengthy record of consistently superior student evaluations,” and “commitment to innovation in teaching, as evidenced by his groundbreaking development of online courses in finance.”

Maniam, better known to his students as “Bala,” began teaching FINC 5310, Introduction to Institutions, Investments, and Managerial Finance, as his first online course and has continued to update the materials, presentation, and supplements of the course often through the years.

He says updating the methodology and approach of the course to keep it fresh served as a representation for teaching online in general, as the key to keeping the course relevant to students is adapting to both their personal and professional needs.

“It takes a lot of time and energy to both design and execute a course properly, and making yourself availability to students 24-hours a day, seven days a week, is part of that process,” he says. “But the students see your dedication to their learning experience, and they return your effort through quality responses and questions about assignments.”

Maniam was so confident in the resources and approach of his online course that in the Fall 2013 semester, he invited students enrolled in his face-to-face FINC 5310 course to utilize the resources of his FINC 5310 online course in addition to classroom discussions. He says students gave resounding positive feedback after accessing online course content such as streaming video lectures, notes, and supplemental readings.

“Certain aspects of face-to-face learning only give so much to students, and communication is key to their success,” he says. “Online students have the ability to pause, rewind, and review online lectures, communicate directly with me via email, and control the speed of their learning on their terms.”

-Professor Balasundram Maniam

Looking back, Maniam says the process of learning to teach online, one that he initially met with reluctance, made him a better professor.

“I saw that educators were getting more and more online, and I didn’t want to be on the sidelines; I wanted to jump on the bandwagon, keep up with the technology, and be comfortable moving forward in the future,” he says. “Teaching courses online has made me a better professor, and I really appreciate what online can do; 10 to 15 years ago I wouldn’t have thought so, but the advantages of online learning are undeniable.”