Anchor Lead: Kent State University announced it has its highest retention rate ever. More and more students are coming to Kent State…but you won’t see all of them in the classroom. TV2’s Paige Katrinchak reports… you don’t have to sit in a classroom to learn.
Online enrollment is on the rise at Kent State University. In addition to the highest ever retention rate at 81.7 percent, online enrollment is up 8.9 percent from last year.
Valerie Kelly, director of online learning, said she believes the increased online enrollment plays a role in the university’s retention rate.
“I think partly because it makes course available when students need them,” Kelly said.
More than 16,000 students are registered for online courses this fall. According to the online course enrollment data on Kent State’s website, only a little over 15,000 students enrolled last year.
Kelly said she thinks today’s online courses are more student-centered and allow them to take the courses they need in order to graduate on time. She also says online courses don’t limit students to what they are able to fit into their schedules.
“A lot of students here, even if they are here full time, they are still working part time. It gives them flexibility in their schedules,” Kelly said.
Online growth is also continuing to grow due to the rise of the hybrid classroom. This allows part of a class to be taught face-to-face and for the rest of it to be completed online.
Kent State offers full online degree programs for certain undergraduate and graduate programs. Students can receive their degree for majors like public health and insurance studies.
Deborah Huntsman, associate vice president of continuing and distance education, said Kent will continue to see growth in online enrollment within the next few years due to the online degree completion programs that are planned.
“Our distance learning strategic plan has a goal of 30 percent of all credit hours taken at Kent State University will be offered fully online,” Huntsman said.
Kelly and Huntsman both said online courses are constantly changing and that with new technology they are hoping to refine and redesign the online classroom.
As of right now, Kent State offers about 700 online courses each semester. Over the next two to three years, nine fully online programs are being planned to launch.
“We’re right on the cusp of some really amazing things that you can do online,” Kelly said. “From self-paced analytics to really interactive things you can do between teacher and student.”