Dixie State to offer online, distance learning

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE Dixie State University will soon offer classes online, a move that could help both traditional and nontraditional students stay enrolled and graduate.

The new Dixie program aims to have 15 percent of the university’s classes available online by fall of 2020 and create two completely online programs.

“An aggressive, but yet realistic and achievable goal,” Ryan Hobbs, the newly appointed director of distance and digital learning, told the Dixie State University Board of Trustees Friday. Hobbs is the first to hold the newly created position.

The availability of online and distance learning options is expected to help retain students and encourage graduation, and both provide more options for non-traditional students.

“(That’s) something that I’m not sure that we do quite well at the university today,” Hobbs said. “In fact, most higher education institutions struggle with this.”

Hobbs was formerly the director of online and eLearning services at Salt Lake Community College. According to his LinkedIn profile, Hobbs holds a master’s degree in instructional technology and design from Utah State University.

The move to digital learning is an attempt to improve access and enrollment, promote learning, retention and advance the quality of teaching and learning.

In my personal opinion, we’re about a decade behind in online education,” Hobbs said.

The courses will be developed internally, rather than being outsourced, Hobbs said, which will cost less and allow the university to retain ownership of the program.

Faculty will be trained for teaching online and will receive an online teaching certificate.

“Teaching in the classroom is very different from teaching in the online space,” Hobbs said. “That requires some different skills and abilities – different focuses and attention.”

Other business

In other business, the board approved several new program proposals including a bachelor’s of science in information systems and data analytics.

The Utah Department of Workforce Services is predicting that occupations in information science and data analytics will grow significantly each year.

The McKinsey Global Institute, a private-sector think tank that researches the global economy, reports:

By 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions.

At Dixie State, a new Department of Health Care Diagnostics and Therapeutics will incorporate several small programs: emergency medical services, respiratory therapy, medical radiography, physical therapist assistant, surgical technologist and medical laboratory sciences.

The university is also planning to offer a bachelor’s of fine art degree in art, a broadcasting emphasis in media studies, and minors in graphic design and photography.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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