dcsimg

Online universities put 'learning resources' on the Web

[March 13, 2006]
(Billings Gazette (MT) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)

Mar. 13--Talk about flexible, Connie Keogh can work just about anywhere she can carry her laptop.

She's logged hours in coffee shops, airports and even while sitting on the beach.

"Pretty much, when I'm working, I have the laptop in front of me and I'm either on the phone or getting ready to make a call," she said.

Keogh, an Absarokee native, is a faculty member of Western Governors University, an online university headquartered in Salt Lake City.

"We call it an education without boundaries," she said.

Keogh is not a professor, nor does she spend much time teaching. Rather, she coordinates the orientation program and she mentors students as they work toward their degrees through the virtual university. The actual instruction -- or "learning resources" as she refers to them -- is outsourced, sometimes through established programs and sometimes to professors at other universities.

"I love teaching. I love being in the classroom, but I was ready for a change," said Keogh, who spent more than 20 years teaching in public schools before taking on her new career.

Now, instead of teaching in a brick-and-mortar classroom, she works with students over the phone, via e-mail or even in virtual classrooms that the university refers to as "communities."

What's flexible for Keogh is also flexible for her students. Most are at least 30 years old, mature and motivated. Many are working other jobs as they complete their online degrees. Like Keogh, the students can schedule their work and studies to their best advantage. And they can earn their degrees at their own pace. They interact with one another through online message boards in different communities set up for study groups, review sessions and other academic functions.

Early this year, Keogh celebrated graduation -- the virtual university holds a "real" graduation in Salt Lake City -- with one of her first students. It was the first time the two had seen one another in person.

"We just hugged and cried," she said. "You can't go that long without getting attached."

As a mentor, Keogh currently oversees about 40 students in the teachers college. She's seen photos of some, but many she knows as a voice on the phone.

"We really have to get to know our students well -- their background and how dedicated they are," she said. "We do everything we can do to make sure the students in the program are prepared."

That's where Keogh comes in. As a mentor, she talks with students about their concerns, she guides them through the financial aid process and she makes it clear what's expected of them. Because online learning demands organization, she covers time management issues and study skills "Just because it's any time, any place, it doesn't mean they can just do it," she said. "I tell them they have to give up something."

Students in the teaching school must also commit to completing their demonstration teaching component, a 12-week in-class experience that compares to the traditional student teaching.

Because the university is computer-based, students are assessed in two ways, she added. They're required to write papers and submit tasks, as if they're in a regular classroom.

"You have to demonstrate to us you have the ability, and that takes a heck of a lot of writing," she said.

They must also undergo objective assessments before a sanctioned proctor. The proctored assessments are often conducted at a community college or testing center easily accessible to the student.

Keogh joined WGU's faculty not long after earning her master's degree in learning and technology through WGU in the fall of 2002. The concept was fairly new at the time, she said, noting that when she started online classes, the university only offered a handful of degrees. Enrollment, which takes place once a month, was running about 30 new students at the time.

Now there are 31 degrees, including an MBA program. And this March, 450 new students signed up at the university, bringing overall enrollment to 5,500.

As coordinator for the orientation program, Keogh also trains new mentors. When Keogh was hired she was one of 10. Today, that number is up to 100 and growing by six to eight new mentors each month.

To prepare her fellow mentors, Keogh holds "live" meetings and training sessions over the computer. Participants can view Keogh's computer desktop on their own monitors as they converse with one another over the phone.

About once a month, Keogh flies to Salt Lake City to meet with university staff.

"It just never hurts to see the people you're working with," she said.

In fact, Keogh says, isolation is one of the drawbacks of her job.

Relying so heavily on e-mail and instant messaging, sometimes several days go by before she realizes she hasn't spoken with another faculty member.

"At some point, we have to sit and talk about the information," she said. "Sometimes we don't do that much working remotely."

Ironically, Keogh says the benefits of her job also present challenges.

The flexibility allows her to work whenever she wants, and for the most part she gets more done that way. But working "wherever" and "whenever" also makes it easy to get sidetracked.

"It's like any job. You have to set aside time and do it," she said.

Like many teachers, Keogh typically puts in more than a 40-hour work week. It's not unusual for her to be up at 5 a.m., typing e-mail messages. But, that's not because she has to, she emphasizes, but because she's up and the time works well for her.

She can take a day off here or there, but vacations are difficult because there's no substitute to fill in. On the flip side, she can coordinate the job with travel, so long as she carries her laptop and phone along.

"I have to be somewhat available, so I'm creative about covering my bases," she said.

Keogh says she likes to think she has a paperless office. To keep it that way, she types information into her computer as she's visiting with students or fellow faculty members over the phone.

In fact, she does save a few key documents, but her latest "paper trail" consisted of one handwritten list copied onto a single page in a spiral notebook.

"But I think I've gone through three computers," she said, smiling.

Keogh says the pay is comparable to her teaching salary in Wyoming, but now she's working year-round. Sometimes she misses the long summer vacation and the holiday break, but she prefers the continuity to the seasonal startup and shutdown of the traditional school year.

"I love it," she said. "This gave me the opportunity to move and live where I wanted. I get my laptop and my phone and get to work."


Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
  • Join us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to interact with our community, read about grad success, and see campus images.
  • Online Courses
  • Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees available in a wide range of fields.
  • Flexible online programs offered in Psychology, Criminal Justice, Education, and more.
  • Assigned Financial Services Advisors to help answer student financial questions.
  • Servicemembers and their spouses can apply for the Ashford Military Grant to reduce tuition for all undergraduate courses.
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • • Offers students the opportunity to complete their master’s degree entirely online in as little as 15 months.
  • • Gives all students an Apple iPad and free textbooks to support the online learning experience.
  • • Teaches students social responsibility and business best practices.
  • •Provides scholarships, grants and other forms of financial aid to those who qualify.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

Change the World with American University

Be a part of something bigger than yourself. At American University, we strive to help you develop your professional interests and indulge in your passion for making a difference. Our online degree programs allow you to gain the advanced skills for active leadership in a variety of fields.

Set Yourself Apart at American University

At American University, our smart, passionate and engaged students and faculty focus their knowledge to create meaningful change. Our strengths in international service and public affairs inspire our sense of social responsibility and a dedication to cultural and intellectual diversity. We're defined by our global perspective, practical idealism and a dedication to public service.

  • Online Courses
  • Study at a university accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
  • Immediately apply what you’re learning to current workplace challenges
  • Experience the convenience and flexibility of online learning—access coursework 24/7
  • Take advantage of four start dates per year
  • Benefit from no required GRE/GMAT 
  • Enjoy small class sizes and students from diverse backgrounds
  • Earn your degree from a respected institution in as few as 18 months
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Ranked one of the Top Public Schools in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Founded in 1766 as a public institution; it has a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey and offers many programs online.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate of 91.8%.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 14:1, and 38% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has famous alumni including chef and restauranteur Mario Batali, author Junot Diaz, actor James Gandolfini, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Allows students to transfer credits from non-U.S. colleges and universities after evaluation.
  • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
  • Its main campus is located in Fort Lauderdale, with campuses located throughout the State of Florida and internationally. 
  • Provides a Department of Student Services and Resources that assists students with résumé preparation, interviewing skills coaching, mock interviewing, professional development workshops, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • For the 12th consecutive year, Cal U was named one for the best schools in the Northeast by The Princeton Review 
  • Recognized by the U.S. News and World Report for: Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s 2017, Best Online Programs, Grad Education 2017 and Best Online Programs, Bachelor’s for Veterans 2017
  • Quality Online courses at Cal U have the same objectives, content and learning outcomes as campus-based programs and are taught by the same expert professors.
  • Offers private school amenities at a public school cost. Student-to-teacher ratio of 20:1
  • CAL U online programs complete an annual assessment of student learning to ensure outcomes are focused on your success in career entry, advancement or enhancement!
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Students are issued a new laptop at the beginning of their programs.
  • All online services and study materials are available 24/7, with faculty available five days a week.
  • All programs available online, with the MBA program offered on campus in Salt Lake City.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), with programmatic accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Approved by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2010.

Our family of non-profit colleges admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.

Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Founded in 1951 by World War II veteran Donald Grantham to provide affordable, higher education for service members and their families.
  • Approved by all branches of the United States Armed Forces for Tuition Assistance (TA), and for benefits payments by the Department of Veteran Affairs benefits (VA).
  • Reviews applicants’ military and professional training for possible transfer credits, and honors credit earned through successful completion of Defense Acquisition University (DAU) courses.
  • Participates in GoArmyEd, Marine Corps Academic Explorer, The Air University Associate to Baccalaureate Cooperative (CCAF), and many other virtual gateways.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Listed as one of the top National Universities for 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service for the seventh straight year in 2013.
  • Has a 97% satisfaction rate among its 2013 graduates. 
  • Offers more than 100 degree options including programs in education, law, nursing, and more.
  • Provides classes at its San Francisco campus, branch campuses throughout the bay area and Sacramento, and online.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

An accredited online university, Capella University offers bachelor’s, master’s/MBA, doctoral, and certificate programs designed to take you to the forefront of your profession. Our competency-based curriculum delivers foundational knowledge and real-world skills, so what you’re learning is immediately applicable to your career. Right now, more than 36,000 students are expanding their opportunities with Capella programs.

  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • A wide variety of program areas are available, including business, education, health sciences, communication, engineering, social sciences, and more.
  • Small class sizes and a low student-to-faculty ratio allow students to get more personalized attention.
  • Offers more than 100 programs of study at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree levels.
  • Ranked among the top High School Counselor Rankings  in 2017 by U.S. News & World Report.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Received the 2013 Making a Difference for Students Award from Quality Matters.
  • Offers a free student app for smartphones and tablets, helping students keep up to date.
  • Has a Golden Key International Honour Society and SALUTE Veterans Honor Society.
  • Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid

Featured Schools