The Graduate School of Education is committed to making its programs accessible to students in all areas of the state of Oregon, throughout the region, and nationally. One way we are doing this is by offering an increasing number of programs that offer the flexibility of being partially or entirely online. Distance delivery modes are chosen based on the specific needs of our students, the faculty, and the course content. GSE distance education programs include professional development, endorsements, graduate certificates, and degrees.
An example of the GSE’s effort to meet the needs of students and educators in the region is the Visually Impaired Learner (VIL) licensure program offered through the Special Education Department. There is a high demand for these specialists, but very few preparation programs exist across the country. By offering a distance program, with a summer face-to-face component, the VIL program has been able to enroll students from across the country. “In the eight years that we have been doing distance education, we have placed nearly 100 new teachers in areas of the country that have either never had or have been unable to fill vacancies for a number of years,” says Director Jim Bickford. “In addition to supplying teachers for Washington and Oregon, most of our students come from outside the area: Hawaii, Idaho, Alaska, Kansas, Indiana, Montana, California, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and even states that may have programs, but are campus-based rather than distance education.” Currently, the VIL has developed a consortium of states that are providing support and students to the program.
Distance education creates opportunities for students in rural communities to access more programs than they would normally be able to participate in. There is an ongoing need for special education services for rural districts. A new program called the Blended Early Education Specialist (BEES) provides access to early intervention special education licensure courses for educators in rural districts.
The GSE offers the library media endorsement and masters degree in a hybrid format also. This program is only offered by two other institutions statewide; therefore, it is critical that it be accessible to people in all parts of the state.
Serving students off-campus is not only an important part of the GSE tradition, it is an increasing trend in education as students worldwide deal with juggling multiple roles and transportation issues. Distance education creates opportunities for students anywhere to be able to access the programs and courses they want and need. According to Eduventures, a national education research firm, the online education market is expected to grow to 18 percent of the higher education market by 2013. Much of that growth is attributed to graduates and adult students rather than undergraduates.
For a partial listing of distance education programs visit the GSE Continuing Education website.