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Tag Archives: distance degree

Unique online power engineering program gets under way

By Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – Citing the need for trained engineers in the power industry, Washington State University in fall 2014 will debut the first online professional master’s degree program in electrical power engineering.Continue reading

Awards and honors

• WSU Spokane’s graduate program in interior design ranked ninth in the nation in a recent list released by DesignIntelligence, a bimonthly journal for architecture and design professionals. Rankings are based on surveys of professional design firms.
“The ranking suggests our graduate students are doing extremely well in entry level positions,” said John Turpin, associate professor and department chair. “We have had the program for seven years and enough students have gone through to where people are starting to take notice,” he said.

• For the third time in the last 10 years, a student in WSU’s Distance Degree Programs has been named the Outstanding Nontraditional Student of the Year by the national University Continuing Education Association. Selection of Debby Poris, 54, “underlines the strength of our program and its students,” said Muriel Oaks, dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education. Judging criteria include an “unconventional educational background,” handling of multiple commitments during pursuit of a degree, and ability to inspire others.

• The WSU Children’s Center again has achieved accreditation from the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs (NAC). The center reapplies for this accreditation every three years and provides NAC extensive information about its supervision of children, staff training efforts, classroom curricula, health practices and staff/child ratios during the application process.
The center, located on Olympia Avenue, will begin expansion this spring, adding a couple rooms for infant and toddler care. The rooms will be ready for use in January 2010.

Jane Cote, academic director and associate professor of accounting at WSU Vancouver, is one of eight women of achievement selected by Clark College and the YWCA Clark County in their 25th year of giving the awards, which recognize outstanding community contributions.

• Revolutions, a magazine for Distance Degree Program alumni and friends, won two regional awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for its fall 2008 edition. The magazine is produced by the Center for Distance and Professional Education. The awards are a silver prize in the external audience magazine category and a bronze for the article “Coug Country at 30,000 feet,” by Richard H. Miller, senior communications and marketing coordinator.
If you or someone you know has received an honor, please e-mail the information to Cynthia King at

Huge hike in students

A 22 percent increase in online students was seen at Distance Degree Programs this fall compared to a year ago. The leap follows six years of 6 percent annual increases. This fall’s 563 new students raised the number of students served from 2,530 to 3,093.
The increase is divided almost evenly between students enrolled through DDP and students whose primary campus is Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities or Vancouver. Of the 3,093 students taking online courses, 842 are from one of the physical campuses.
The reason behind the increase is not entirely clear, but Muriel Oaks, dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education, which includes DDP, said there are probably several factors.
“Campus-based students are clearly comfortable with technology, and more of them are taking advantage of the flexibility that online courses offer,” she said.
For the typical DDP student — working adults — the reasons are probably more varied, and include a weakening economy, increasing acceptance of online education, and gas prices.
“There’s general agreement that higher education enrollments increase during economic downturns,” said Al Jamison, a faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership & Counseling Psychology. When the economy sinks, “people look to get more education so they’re better poised to get a job when the economy recovers, or to change ca reers,” said Debra O’Donnell, director of marketing, communications and recruiting for CDPE.
 Jamison suggested the bad-economy theory may be particularly applicable to online students, because they’re more integrated into the work force.
Meanwhile, “studies show people are more accepting of online education,” Oaks said, “and employers are also more accepting of online degrees, especially ones from traditional universities.”
The gas price theory says that as fuel costs rise, people choose online courses in order to avoid driving. But, as Oaks pointed out, many DDP students aren’t potential commuters. Most are busy working and raising children and have no time to attend campus classes, or they live outside a reasonable commute to a college or university.
Even new DDP student Vance Frost of Ephrata, who will save $4,000 a year on gas by not commuting, declined to call gas prices a deciding factor.
“Quality of education played a tremendous role as well,” said the 45-year-old graphic designer, citing “WSU’s reputation, the class offerings and the excellent customer service.”

Online tutoring consortium expands

Online tutoring available for a year to WSU distance degree students is now offered to students on all WSU campuses too.

Janet Kendall, director of distance degree programs (DDP), was instrumental in organizing WSU’s participation in the program. She learned about a distance-learning consortium, ONLINE @, and sought to add a Northwest regional group to it.

By accessing the site, students can get help with writing, accounting, statistics and math 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Writing aid comes within 24 hours, while tutors in the other subjects interact in real time with students via computer video and/or voice.

WSU expects to save thousands of dollars compared with previous contracts with outside tutoring providers.
“The new service, hosted on Connecticut distance learning consortium computers, will cost just a few thousand dollars a year, plus the cost of tutoring staff,” Kendall said. “We believe the services will be better and the cost savings significant.”

Katherine Lovrich, student advising and learning center, helped engage tutors for the consortium. Tutors participate from several colleges in the Northwest and all WSU campuses, and Kendall expects more will join.

DDP’s Andrea Kerr is coordinating operations.

ETutoring will replace the online writing lab previously used by the WSU Writing Program, said Patrick Johnson, WSU’s eTutoring writing director. WSU Vancouver math instructor Joe Randal is leading plans for math tutoring.