This discussion is about CSU’s online program that caters to 17,000 students. Many online higher education trends are discussed at length.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as your activities at Colorado State.
Becky Takeda-Tinker: I’m the President of Colorado State University Global Campus. We are the nation’s only 100% online fully-accredited state institution. We serve non-traditional students between the ages of 18 to 65. Our average student is 35 years old. Our mission is very unique in that it is driven for workplace success in a global marketplace through education.
We are always looking to address what will prepare our students for workplace success in a global market. We have a very different approach in how we look at faculty. About 86% of our faculty have terminal Ph.D. degrees, but 90% have worked in their areas of expertise. They act as mentors and coaches to our students to actually help them understand what they’re learning in the academic theory and how it is applied in the workplace, and how it helps their organizations or communities.
We also work on the curriculum with industry experts who work with our faculty to understand the expectations of the marketplace matching which the degree programs are formed. The learning is workplace applied. They are learning theory and are talking about how it is applied and used in the workplace. There is a lot of discussion that goes back and forth between students. When they learn something new, they apply it. They come back and talk about it. Their homework is geared towards the workplace.
We have a requirement that our students must have had some level of work. They need at least two years’ experience so that the discussions are relevant. That is the curriculum aspect. The courses themselves actually help our students to be prepared for industry certifications. When we think of our IT programs, there are Microsoft certification learning elements so that when they leave, they can actually go and take those certifications. We have seven different certifications for our Bachelor’s degree program in technology.
Even for Human Resources, we prepare students to take the National Society of Human Resource Professional’s exam. It’s the same way for Accounting. They are learning the academic curriculum. They are learning how it applies in the workplace. It gets them ready to actually take these industry certifications. We also provide internships.
We have internship courses to allow students to be in the workplace and earn university credit. We have career coaching. It’s a big part of what we do. Our faculty participate as coaches. They get as many sessions as they want so they can have those discussions about where they’re headed, what type of learning they need, and what type of industry certifications will help them move forward quicker. It’s almost a life coach type of experience.