Purdue University

In an effort to increase enrollment numbers in online education courses, officials at Purdue University recently announced plans to expand the university’s distance-learning program.

Purdue student enrollments in online-learning classes totaled about 8,200 in 2009-2010, with 35 percent in courses originating on the Purdue campus. The university is working hard to augment those numbers.

“Our goal is by 2012-13 to create capacity for 10,000 enrollments in online courses for Purdue West Lafayette students,” said Mark Pagano, dean of Continuing Education and Conferences at Purdue. “We want at least 60 percent of those enrollments in courses originating at Purdue. The remaining capacity would be available through partner institutions in the Indiana College Network consortium.”

The goal set by Purdue is indicative of the growing popularity of online education in colleges and universities over the past several years. Eduventures, an educational research firm, projects that by 2013 participation in online learning will exceed 3.5 million and that 18 percent of all higher education students will be online. And according to the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, enrollment rose by almost one million students since 2009, the largest ever year-to-year increase since the study began eight years ago.

“By offering more Purdue-originated courses, we will provide our current students with greater continuity of classes,” said Mickey Latour, associate dean of distance learning since September. “We also will be able to reach out to those who might not be able to take courses in a college classroom, such as professionals who can’t come to campus because of their jobs or military personnel on assignment.”

Additionally, Purdue plans to attract new off-campus students to participate in online degree programs. Based on the recommendations by a task force of faculty and administrators, Purdue contracted with Chicago-based Deltak for marketing and development, beginning with a pilot project with the College of Education. Deltak works with 26 partner institutions nationwide and has launched more than 70 degree programs.

The online degrees are expected to provide a new revenue stream for the university.

“As budgets grows tighter, it’s essential that we look to other sources of revenue,” Pagano said.

Purdue has been involved in distance learning since at least 1922 when it started broadcasting engineering courses over WBAA. By the late 1960s, the university was offering master’s degrees in engineering throughout Indiana and neighboring states via closed-circuit television. By the early 2000s, Purdue was involved in ICN and was offering its first undergraduate online degree – an associate of science in veterinary technology.

Purdue’s Continuing Education and Conferences opened a new distance-learning center in October on the ground floor of Stewart Center, which includes a state-of-the-art testing center for Purdue students taking Indiana College Network courses.

Purdue University is a coeducational, state-assisted system in Indiana. The university was founded in 1869 and named after benefactor John Purdue. The university is one of the nation’s leading research institutions with a reputation for excellent and affordable education.

Purdue’s West Lafayette campus offers more than 200 majors for undergraduates, over 70 master’s and doctoral programs, and professional degrees in pharmacy and veterinary medicine. It also has 18 intercollegiate sports teams and more than 850 student organizations.

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