DOTHAN – Several hundred Troy University faculty and staff members, who are at the forefront of the burgeoning online learning field, will gather in Dothan to discuss the latest trends and issues in distance learning during the annual eCampus Colloquium. The theme of the four-day conference, which kicks off April 14 on the Dothan Campus, is “Don’t Hesitate to Communicate – Building Relationships through Communication.”
In recent years, eCampus has experienced tremendous growth. The University’s online branch currently serves more than 10,000 students. Undergraduate and graduate students choose from more than 600 courses each term. New classes are added constantly, according to eCampus Director Dr. Deb Gearhart.
“I think online programs are attractive to adult learners because of their flexibility,” Dr. Gearhart said. “Learners don’t have to give up their job and home life to go to school.”
During the Colloquium, Dr. Gearhart will lead a session on best practices. She will focus on faculty responsiveness to students, in addition to discussing course materials and design.
The University’s distance learning initiative is guided by the vision of Dr. Jack Hawkins, Jr., Troy University chancellor. His desire to remove the barriers of place and time from education has taken TROY online and overseas. TROY has grown to encompass more than 60 campuses and sites under the leadership of Dr. Hawkins.
In 2007, TROY united the online components of its Alabama campuses under the eCampus umbrella. This fall, the University will shift its eArmyU offerings to eCampus. The consolidation allows the University to standardize practices for all online classes.
Dr. Gearhart said TROY is receiving recognition for the quality of its online programs.
“We’ve been recognized by GetEducated.com for our business, psychology and criminal justice programs,” Dr. Gearhart said. “We plan to continue to grow these programs and offer new ones in the next few years.”
TROY students are able to take online classes in conjunction with on-campus classes. Currently, eCampus also offers 17 complete online programs. Two new degree tracks will become available this fall.
“I don’t know of too many state institutions that are doing this many programs online,” Dr. Gearhart noted.