Building an Interactive Fully-Online Degree Program

Building an Interactive Fully-Online Degree Program

Jennie Mitchell (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, USA) and Daesang Kim (Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1655-4.ch004
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Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) expects to launch an interactive fully-online undergraduate degree program in 2010. This program will fill a market need not currently met at SMWC. The program is designed for an online community of learners with a format and focus that appeals to net generation (millennial), neo-millennial, and computer savvy non-traditional students, including military personnel. The General Studies in the new program will focus on seven themes of Leadership for Environmental and Social Justice and will build upon a subset of the existing General Studies. This new program will complement the Woods External Degree (WED), an existing distance education program, established in 1973, that was built on the “correspondence model.” In the new program, students will not be required to come to campus, but will become a vibrant part of the SMWC community by being empowered to explore, discover, and interact through innovative technologies.
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Setting The Stage

The College started a correspondence distance program in 1973 and delivered its first online course in 1996. SMWC currently provides different distance formats (see Table 1) available to both women and men. There are more than 2,500 distance students that have graduated or completed their programs at the College through these programs.

Table 1.
Current SMWC distance program formats
Woods External Degree (WED)Master of Leadership Development (MLD) &
Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Other graduate programs
(Art Therapy, Earth Literacy, Music Therapy, and Pastoral Theology)
     • Flexible schedule
     • Individual
     • Undergraduate (4yr, maximum 12 yr)
     • 20 weeks class time
     • One-day residency recommended at the beginning of each required course
     • Desire2Learn (course management system) course format recommended
     • Many courses use email, some still use mail
     • Individual assignments, very little if any team assignments
     • Accept ACE Guidelines
     • Assessment of prior learning (APL) for college credit
     • Fixed schedule
     • Cohort
     • Graduate (1yr)
     • 8 weeks class time
     • Hybrid: Weekend residency every two months, online activities between residency
     • Desire2Learn course format required using required template
     • Webinar (seminar held over the Web) activity required
     • Many group assignments and projects
     • Fixed schedule
     • Intensive format
     • Graduate (2 or 3 yr)
     • Five-day residencies at the beginning of each semester
     • Desire2Learn course format recommended
     • Individual assignments

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