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Trumbull News Detail

Grant Program funds distance learning option for Psychology

Posted Apr. 1, 2010

For the second year in a row, Kent State's Office of Continuing and Distance Education coordinated a grant program designed to help professors develop online courses for the upcoming summer semester. With funding from the Office of the Provost, 12 faculty members were each recently awarded a $6,000 Summer Distance Education grant.

Deborah Huntsman, executive director of the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, says faculty members submitted proposals, which were then reviewed by a committee from the Division of Academic Affairs. The committee sought to fund courses that would serve the largest number of students and that would be useful for students to take during the summer.

Huntsman says that the summer semester online courses are expected to fill because of a high demand for online learning classes.

"In comparison to the Spring 2009 Semester, enrollment in online courses for this spring semester has increased by 50 percent on the Kent Campus," Huntsman says. "The demand is there for distance learning."

hen distance-learning courses first started, it was thought that only certain courses could work online. However, Huntsman explains that practically any course can be restructured to be offered online today, thanks to advances in technology.

To help faculty create a distance-learning course and acquaint them with the technology involved, Huntsman organized a distance-learning team led by educational technologists Eve Dalton and Ben Hollis. While developing an online course, grant recipients typically meet with their distance-learning team every two weeks for feedback and assistance.

Dr. Larry Froehlich, associate professor with the School of Lifespan Development and Educational Sciences at Kent State University at Trumbull and Kent State University at Salem and a grant recipient, says working with the distance-learning team was an invaluable opportunity.

"I really want to recognize and thank Deb Huntsman and her office for all their support," Froehlich says. "The distance-learning team minimized the challenges in turning the course into a distance-learning class."

Froehlich worked with the distance-learning team to adapt the course, Educational Psychology, for distance learning. The online course will be similar to the face-to-face class, but it will also feature chats and give students flexibility with their schedules.

Since the Educational Psychology class is required for all education majors and is an approved Transfer Assurance Guide course — meaning its credit hours will transfer to any of Ohio's public universities — Froehlich says the online course could benefit a number of students.