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UW-Green Bay makes US News honor roll for online excellence

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The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay ranks among the top 50 nationally in a key quality indicator for excellence in online education. The magazine U.S.News & World Report, in releasing its first-ever guide to online degree programs, places UW-Green Bay No. 41 in the category of “Student Engagement and Assessment.” (The magazine offers no overall ranking of the schools with online bachelor’s degrees, but instead presents “honor rolls” highlighting those that score best in various categories.) UW-Green Bay is the highest-ranking Wisconsin-based online program on the Student Engagement list, which tracks measures of personalized learning and faculty interaction with students. UW-Green Bay also appears on another list, “Student Services and Technology,” at No. 158. See the Student Engagement rankings; see the Services and Technology listing.

Adult Degree program, new student welcomeAdult Degree Program says ranking reflects reality
Steve Vanden Avond, UW-Green Bay’s associate provost for Outreach and Adult Access, says this week’s first-ever U.S. News review of online learning programs is an inexact instrument — similar to any college guide ranking — but he nonetheless believes it to be accurate in placing UW-Green Bay among the 50 schools that do the best job of engaging online learners.

“The recognition is gratifying, and consistent with our focus,” Vanden Avond says. “UWGB has made a concerted effort, over many years, to make our online degree not only accessible and affordable, but also every bit as rigorous and respected as our ‘traditional’ bachelor’s degree. In the online environment, you do it by offering a quality learning experience with high-quality faculty and staff; prompt and personalized student services; appropriate guidance; accurate, meaningful assessment of learning; and the same problem-focused, interdisciplinary education that UW-Green Bay offers all of its students.”

Vanden Avond says faculty led by Prof. Catherine Henze, chairperson of the academic program, continue to pursue best practices in online learning in order to grow and enhance opportunities for students. He says new initiatives including a convocation of online learners — a once-a-year gathering of students and their families who might not otherwise visit the physical campus — should only increase retention and student success. (See a video and photos from the October 2011 New Student Convocation and Family Welcome.) Concludes Vanden Avond, “To rank No. 41 nationally in Student Engagement, a category that is so central to online learning, is something that speaks very highly of UW-Green Bay and its Adult Degree Program.”

Enrollment is booming
Enrollment in the Adult Degree Program is nearing 1,000 individuals, meaning about 15 percent of UW-Green Bay’s 6,500 or so students are pursuing their degrees almost entirely online, with only occasional classroom sessions on campus. At December commencement more than 50 graduates received degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies — the primary major for online learners — which meant Adult Degree trailed only Business Administration in number of mid-year degrees awarded.

Background on US News rankings
The ranking of online degree programs represents a new chapter in the 28-year history of the U.S. News college guide, an expansion brought on by the rapid growth of online learning. Eric Brooks, a data research analyst for the magazine, told the Chronicle of Higher Education that some widely known for-profit institutions, Kaplan among them, declined to participate this first time around. A fair number of public institutions, as well, failed to supply information in time for inclusion, which Brooks said was unsurprising for a new guide in its debut year. Read more.

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