Communication Studies hits the cloud

Many of us who have families, friends, jobs, bills and other life pressures it would be nice to be able to take one stressor off the list. Northern Kentucky University is trying to do that for its students with the creation of its online Communication Studies Program.

With the creation of a new avenue for NKU students to complete their degree, some may wonder if NKU is trying to be more like other online universities,

‘Not at all, we are really a distinct comprehensive university,’ Dr. Cady Short-Thompson, professor and chair of Communication Department at NKU, said.’While some may argue that they (online universities) are our competitors, we don’t believe that they are because we believe that we offer a different product than they do,’ Short-Thompson said.

One of the main reasons the online Communication Studies program was created is because many NKU students will drop out because they have adult responsibilities, but when they want to return they cannot because it is not convenient.

‘So, if NKU is anything it is a very student centered organization’hellip;, so we wanted to have a completer program that would allow our students to come back to college,’ Short-Thompson said.

Communication Studies was chosen because out of all other majors in the Communication Department it was the easiest to transfer into an online degree. This is due to the amount of reading, writing and independent study that goes into this degree. Generally whenever there is a lot of individual work in a program, it is easier to create an online program from that.

The creation and implementation of the program was financed largely by a partnership between the Communication Department and Education Outreach. Education Outreach is a program that among other things reaches into the community to attract students to NKU.
Education Outreach is financing the development part of the online Communication

Studies degree program. By working with the professors who will be teaching the classes Education Outreach is paying to alter each of the classes that will be taught online. When it comes to the actual teaching of the class the Communication Department will use the resources of the department.

Professional Development money that will come from Education Outreach will enable the Communication Department to send professors to seminars. These seminars will offer topics such as how to better teach online courses, how to use certain online features and to help Professors to better understand of copyright laws.

Students who will be taking online courses will actually be paying more than regular NKU students, even though some online students will not be using NKU’s campus.

‘They pay a technology convenience fee, it isn’t an enormous amount more, I believe it is $30 per credit hour,’ Short-Thompson said.

It is largely a convenience fee that gives a fund of money that allows professors to get the training they need to be able to teach effectively online. Also this money helps support the IT infrastructure because online courses place extra demands on those resources.

The program, which is slated to begin in Fall 2010, is open to all NKU students, since the program is a full bachelors program students may enter as freshmen. The only pre-requisite is students must have taken Communication Studies 101 and have a minimum GPA of 2.5.’

‘We are only five percent online at this point, I think we have some goals to get as high as 20 percent by 2015. However, that is in part because we are very under built as a university and we don’t have the physical capacity to grow as quickly as the state would like us to,’ Short-Thompson said.