Board of trustees approve online learning program for eastern Illinois community collegesMembers of the Board of Trustees of Illinois Eastern Community Colleges recently approved the 2011 Online Education Plan, the Carmi Times reports.

As part of the new program, the transcript fee will increase from $3 to $5 and the application fee will be eliminated. Officials told the news source that students who are new to online learning are required to complete an introductory course, which will prepare them for web-based delivery of classes.

Officials added that the majority of students are from within the local area. As a result, the school continues to develop additional online courses to accommodate enrollees who work full-time jobs or have difficulty finding adequate transportation to the campus. According to a 2009 report from the Sloan Consortium, 4.6 million students were taking at least one web-based class in 2008.

The Online Instruction Committee was established in 2003 to assist, monitor, and evaluate online programs for each of the district's community colleges.

Recent studies from Pew Research Center revealed that community colleges enroll approximately 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates.

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