Indiana colleges impress U.S. News and World Report with online degree programs

Collegian file photo.


U.S. News and World Report recognized Indiana University and Ball State University in their Best Online College Degree list that was published this month. Butler University does not currently offer any full online degree programs, but offers certain online classes.

Indiana University tied for second place in both the Best Online MBA Program and Best Non-MBA Online Business Program rankings. Ball State University tied for 16th in the Best Online MBA Program category.

Erin Vincent, director of academic program development and innovation, helps faculty develop innovative new programs. She said Butler is researching the potential to offer online degrees in the future.

Vincent said the university’s focus is on developing online graduate programs, but faculty from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Lacy School of Business, the College of Education and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences are still in the early stages of research for possible programs.

The estimate is that a program will probably be implemented by 2020 or even as early as 2019.

Research for the program involves looking at online degree programs from local universities as well as universities in the Big Ten and Big East. Indiana University is a member of the Big Ten.

Max Tucker, a sophomore entrepreneurship major, took media literacy as well as colonialism and postcolonialism Africa online this past summer. He thinks that he learned more by taking the online classes.

“I wanted to get my GHS out of the way and was trying to raise my GPA so I took some online classes,” Tucker said. “I feel like I might have gotten more out of it because in class participation is vocal but the class participation in [online classes] was all written and because of that I feel like I might have learned more about it online than I would have in a regular classroom.”

Sara Lefere, sophomore elementary education major, took special education law online through Butler last year. The class had weekly assignments where students would have to read or watch a video about special education law and write a response to the piece.

Lefere said that taking the online class definitely made her semester easier.

“If I had to actually go to class, it would have made taking that class a lot less desirable, but because it was online and I could work at my own pace it helped a lot,” Lefere said. “I learned a lot from reading and watching the videos, but it was one of those things that I could just take care of [on my own time], which was really nice.”

The College of Education currently offers an online program called the Hinkle Academy, which offers graduate students a certificate in leadership which they can put toward a masters degree. The program is based on the teachings of Tony Hinkle, such as sport leadership and teamwork, and The Butler Way.

Vincent said that programs like the Hinkle Academy show the College of Education’s commitment to its students.

“The College of Education is very passionate about being innovative and providing students with unique opportunities,” Vincent said.

Lefere said that she could see how offering entirely online degrees could help people further their education.

“I personally would not because I really like the personal interaction you get by going to class with people,” Lefere said. “The fact that you get to work at your own pace is something that is really appealing about it, and it might work better for someone with a different personality type or someone like a stay at home mom who is trying to get a degree.”

This semester, the only courses that Butler offered online were special education law and the Hinkle Academy. Over the summer students have a wider variety of courses to choose from, including classes in the college of business, college of communications, and college of liberal arts and sciences.



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