U.S. News and World Report recognizes UWP distance learning

November 19, 2002

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PLATTEVILLE-Offering special support for students, accredited programs and reasonable tuition rates, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville was listed by U.S. News & World Report as having one of the "Best Online Graduate Programs" in the category of regionally accredited graduate programs.

In an October issue of the weekly magazine, UWP was recognized for its online master's degree programs in engineering and project management. Dawn Drake, executive director of Alternative Delivery Systems at UWP, filled out a survey on distance education and was contacted by a representative from the magazine for a follow-up interview. Drake said UWP's distance learning program met much of the criteria U.S. News & World Report was looking for in distance education programs.

"I think UWP was chosen as having one of the best online programs based on a number of factors," Drake said. "Our online programs are accredited, which is one of the first questions people ask when considering our programs. There are a lot of diploma mills and non-credible institutions out there.

"Another thing we were asked is if the entire degree can be obtained at a distance. Many distance education programs are hybrid programs, allowing students to do a portion of the work at a distance but requiring them at some point to come to campus for instruction. Everything in our distance learning programs is done at a distance.

"Thirdly, the caliber of our faculty and the support services we offer was a strong attribute of our program. One of the comments we've heard about our distance learning program is that people are impressed with the fact all of our adjunct faculty members have the same, if not higher, credentials as our on-campus faculty members. We also have a staff that is solely dedicated to distance education and its students. That's a relatively unusual situation for a campus that is not completely at a distance."

In addition to the online engineering and project management programs, UWP offers a master's degree in criminal justice and a bachelor's degree in business administration, both through distance learning. Drake attributes the University's success and dedication to providing quality distance education programs to Chancellor David Markee, Provost Carol Sue Butts and the involvement of a wide variety of faculty and staff.

"Our Chancellor and Provost both have prior experience with distance education," Drake said. "They recognize the importance of distance learning and provide the support we need, enabling us to offer a quality program. In addition, we have a large number of dedicated faculty members who engage in teaching and designing courses for our distance learners. Lastly, the student focus of the staff in the distance learning center allows us to serve the unique needs of non-traditional students that are earning their degrees at a distance".

For the future of distance learning, Drake said developing virtual components to the programs and offering other degrees are possible. In May 2003, the UWP distance learning program will hold its first virtual graduation ceremony, Drake said.

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