Online Colleges in Wisconsin

2013's Revolutionary Online Programs in Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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Colleges and universities around the country have been watching as the University of Wisconsin system becomes the first public university system in the nation to offer online or hybrid "flexible degree" programs for its students. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is the system's pilot campus, rolling out four flexible degree options in the fall of 2013. The idea behind the programs was to provide students who have practical working experience the opportunity to move through the degree programs more quickly by focusing on competency assessment instead of credit hours. Furthermore, it is expected to reduce the cost of higher education for those students already in the workforce. Having already been working in their particular field of study, the university assumes that students are already bring with them a wealth of practical knowledge upon entering the program. Thus, they may not need to spend as much time in the classroom as those who are new to the field.

The program is based on competency rather than classroom learning activities. Students are able to complete most of their degree work online, possibly even leveraging the use of massive open online courses (MOOCs) that are available. Once the student feels that they have gained the applicable knowledge, they can prove their competency by completing an assessment from home, work, or at a testing site. Passing the test will allow them to move on to the next stage of the degree. UW-Milwaukee has started by offering three bachelor's degrees - one each in nursing, diagnostic imaging, and information science and technology - as well as a certificate in professional and technical communication. Although UW-Milwaukee will be the first school in the nation to offer these flexible degree programs, other schools in the University of Wisconsin system are expected to follow suit.

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee also began offering a graduate certificate in business analytics during the spring of 2013. The fully online program requires the completion of an analytics for managers course before the students can choose from a number of electives. Those electives include classes in marketing analytics, database marketing, business forecasting, web mining and analytics, or business intelligence technologies and solutions. Group data projects are also required, which expose the students to multiple software tools including Python, IBM SPSS and SAS.

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The University of Wisconsin-Madison hosted the 29th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning on August 7-9, 2013. The conference brought together over 700 participants from around the world to discuss the topics of distance learning and online education. Presenters included a multitude of professional educators, trainers, designers, and researchers in the field of distance and online education and training. Discussions centered around the use of best practices, as well as how to use new technologies and tools. Panels also included discussions on open educational resources (OERs) and MOOCs. The conference was sponsored by the department of continuing studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Like other higher education programs across the country, Wisconsin college degree programs are suffering from the recent recession. State budget cuts have hit the public university system, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which reports that since 2008, Wisconsin has had to cut financial aid and higher education operation funding. This works out to fewer college program offerings, less financial aid money, and larger class sizes.

What Are Online Colleges in Wisconsin All About?

Wisconsin online colleges have been largely unaffected by the state's financial woes. Less dependent on state funding, online schools in Wisconsin have maintained their programs and other offerings. Accreditation has become more widespread for online colleges, which means credibility of online education continues to grow. In order to become accredited, online colleges must adhere to the same rigorous academic standards as accredited campus-based schools.

Wisconsin online colleges can offer you an education that can train you for a multitude of careers in a way that is convenient to you. By studying online, you have total control over your schedule and class choices.

Degrees Offered via Wisconsin Online Colleges

Wisconsin online colleges offer virtually any degree and program. You can earn your high school diploma, professional certification, or any level college degree in fields like nursing, education, engineering, science, social work, business, and more.

In addition, by choosing accredited Wisconsin online colleges, you can have access to federal financial aid, including grants and loans.

Tangible Benefits of Attending Online Colleges in Wisconsin

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov, 2012), those who complete higher education typically have lower rates of unemployment and higher pay. For this reason, completing Wisconsin college degree programs can be highly beneficial. Attending online colleges in Wisconsin offers additional benefits that won't be found in traditional campus-based programs:

  • Attend classes on your own schedule, which means you can keep your current job and maintain family obligations
  • Save money on commuting, food, parking, and more
  • Live where you want: by studying online, you don't need to live near the college of your choice
  • Further improve your computer skills
  • Personalized attention and no crowded classrooms

For degree programs that require in-person training, such as dental hygiene or nursing, a hybrid program is a good choice: combining online classes with in-person training offers the ultimate blend of convenience and preparation.

Snapshot of the Job Market in Wisconsin

Many Wisconsin jobs require the completion of a certificate or degree. The best Wisconsin online colleges can help you jump into a great career. According to bls.gov, the fastest-growing jobs in the state (with education requirements) include:

  • Lawyers: Professional degree
  • Dental Hygienists: Associate degree
  • Public Relations Managers and Specialists: Bachelor's degree
  • Computer Support Specialists: Associate's degree

Whatever your career goals, Wisconsin online colleges can help you achieve them.

Sources:
Education Pays, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
Wisconsin, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wi.htm

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

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