Virtual College Blog

Adjusting as Veteran Learners

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By, Jeremy Carlton (FHSU Coordinator of Military Student Success, U.S. Air Force Veteran , 2003-2011)

“I need we in order to be.” Leonard Sweet, Historian and Semiotician
    I recall those initial hesitations that took shape as I had come to embrace higher education myself. Transitioning between having served on active duty, an environment where everything is predetermined and regulated for you to a learning community where questioning is encouraged and dissent matters, was a very difficult adjustment to make sense of; yet let alone live into. As I recall, transitioning between certain uniformity/compliance to encouraged “individualism” was immediately overwhelming. I was not prepared for the sea of individuals, having come from an environment that the Army recruiters have aptly described as “an Army of one”. What I wasn’t prepared for was collaborative learning. I loathed sharing in meaning. Again, I was accustomed to predetermined meaning—someone via a Reg telling me what to do. I liked being told what to do. I still do to a certain degree. There is comfort in it. When professors used terms like “learning laboratories” I would cringe and immediately verify the class-drop date to see if there was still time to jump ship. Most of the time, however, I knew early on if it was going to be a collaborative learning environment or not. If it wasn’t for my want to overcome I would have dropped many classes along the way. I am glad that I didn’t. I needed a variety of voices in my life. I still do. I needed diversity. I needed to learn and know that we all bring our own histories to the table and that our shared learning experience is life affirming. Yes, I still prefer a top down approach, but I have grown to cherish the egalitarian nature of the academe. “Out of many, one,” means that I make room for understanding life from a variety of angles as I become a whole person.
    Years have passed and now I am an administrator helping veterans field their transitions into higher education. I have seen the frustration first hand and have fielded countless conversations with veterans who were barely hanging on. My heart breaks for them. I suppose that that is why I feel inclined to write this piece. I want veterans to know that there are others like them sitting in the classroom—the library—the quad—the union—online. That there are advocates on-line and around campus who care and understand those unique histories that shape veterans. Our veteran students unbeknownst to others bare within them images, smells, and sounds that are directly tied to conflict—to war—to hell. We know the cost. We’ve seen and felt the pain. We have experienced unimaginable loss. We have felt the anxiety that comes with being “real world ready”. Serving is not easy. I don’t think that too many would argue that. Point is, you are not alone. Just about every campus sports a sizable veteran population. Do yourself a favor and find them (See: Student Veterans of America http://www.studentveterans.org/). Commune with them. Swap stories. Chide alongside them. Trust me, it will make your experience more than manageable as you adjust to the academe.
    Here at Fort Hays State we have enacted several initiatives to better support our veteran students; and more are coming. From the recent “Green Zone” initiative where safe-spaces have been intentionally created for our veteran populations (both on-campus and on-line); to the creation of my office (Office of Military Student Success) year ago; to our FHSU-VC Military POI (See: http://www.fhsu.edu/virtualcollege/military/military/); Fort Hays is striving to create space for you to succeed. You also may not know this, but we also have an unofficial FHSU Military Lounge on-line chalk full of tutorials, tips, helpful links, and a scholarship listing (See: http://fhsu-veteranlounge.weebly.com/). Feel free to explore the Lounge at length and contribute should you so choose. Proudly, we have professional counseling and referral services (among other things) available to our on-campus and on-line students as well through the Kelly Center (See: http://www.fhsu.edu/kellycenter/). Use these services as needed. Updated often, we have a rather sizable Social Media presence as well—one that was specifically created for our FHSU veterans (Look for us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram). Lastly,  I cherish serving veteran populations because I know that veterans bring a lot to classroom. I know that classrooms need more voices of (experienced) veterans in them. You have a lot to give and your fellow classmates need to hear what you have to say as you contribute to this privileged and shared conversation. Your classmates have a lot to teach you as well. Be open. Be patient. Be understanding. Again, we are all bringing a host of diverse histories to the table and that strength can be found in shared meaning.
Please feel free to contact Jeremy at jlcarlton2@fhsu.edu with your questions and thoughts.


Sweet, Leonard. Soul Tsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture. Grand Rapdis, Zondervan, 1999.

Choosing a Major

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Many students choose a particular major because it will prepare them for a certain career.  However, once immersed in the coursework, many students begin to question their choice of major.  Are you unsure about your major selection?  Do you find yourself questioning the career path you have chosen?  Are you interested in investigating other fields of study?  If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, we can help!  FHSU has a variety of resources to put you on the path to success!

MyMajors Career Assessment - MyMajors is a free career assessment tool that is available for students in TigerTracks. Once you log into TigerTracks go to the Online Services tab and there is a link that will allow you to complete the MyMajors tools. The assessment will ask for information regarding your academic and work preferences and will then generate a Top Ten majors list that will assist you in identify potential majors.

Academic Advising & Career Exploration Center Resource Site -This FHSU office offers multiple online resources that can assist you in choosing a major.  Resources include career inventories, career exploration databases, and much more!

What Can I Do With a Major In... - This page lists all majors, on-campus and virtual, that are offered at FHSU and provides you with a PDF file that lists occupations you could pursue with that degree. This is a great way to explore potential employment options for majors you are considering.

UNIV 100 VA Major & Career Exploration - UNIV 100 VA is offered each semester (fall, spring and summer). The class is designed to assist students in learning about themselves and majors that match their interests, abilities, values and strengths.

Bachelor of General Studies - The BGS offers maximum flexibility to students who wish to determine the specific content of their degree program, rather than pursue one of the established majors at FHSU. There are numerous Concentration options, including Child Development and Education.

List of Online and On-Campus Majors - FHSU offers a variety of majors online and on-campus that you can browse through.

If you decide that you would like to change your major, please contact your Academic Advisor.  Your Advisor can guide you in the process of changing your major.

Keep in mind that you should choose a major that both interests you and is relevant to a career you wish to pursue after college.  This should be a personal decision that involves deep reflection and goal setting.  During this process, be sure to utilize the resources that FHSU has to offer.  We are here to help!

FHSU's Virtual College celebrates national distance learning week

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HAYS, Kan. -- Fort Hays State University's Virtual College recently celebrated National Distance Learning Week, an annual event sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association, which promotes and celebrates the increasing growth and accomplishments in distance programs.

FHSU currently provides more than 6,000 students in more than 20 countries the opportunity to earn online degrees. To celebrate its distance learning students, FHSU's Virtual College recently gave more than 100 free T-shirts to domestic and foreign online students, who then sent pictures of themselves wearing their Tiger T-shirts in local landmarks.

The photos can be found on the Virtual College's Facebook page. Look for "FHSU Virtual College" on Facebook.

A sampling of the submissions:

Jessica from North Dakota sent a picture of herself standing under the nose of a giant buffalo sculpture. "FHSU Virtual College allows me the luxury of traveling with my husband for his job while continuing my education! This photo was taken in Jamestown, North Dakota, home of the world's largest buffalo." (see above)

Kathy from Washington D.C. sent a picture of herself with the Washington monument and the caption: "Enjoying my freedom to learn. As an Army wife, I have loved the opportunity that FHSU has given me to pursue my own degree. It was hard before I found FHSU because I was always having to start over with every move. The Virtual College has allowed me to have a first-class education no matter where I live, from Kansas to Washington D.C."

James and Jennifer from Delaware pictured themselves on the beach: "We are full-time teachers and live at the beach year round. FHSU makes it easy to pursue our master's at a school with a reputable program, without having to leave the coast."

Jessica from Wyoming titled her photo, "Tigers in the Tetons!": "The best part about being a Virtual College student at FHSU is being able to study what I love from the place I love."

  North Dakota       Washington DC      Delaware      Wyoming

 

 

Fort Hays State seeks to expand free educational resource offerings

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11/10/14
What "open educational resources" means is free or vastly reduced costs for classroom materials, including notoriously expensive college textbooks. Fort Hays State University began seriously looking into "OER" in 2012.

The program really began in earnest this year and, over the summer and fall, students in seven classes at FHSU saved $77,947 on textbooks, said Dennis King, director of the Virtual College and learning technologies.

"Our goal is to maintain or increase quality while reducing cost," said King. "That's our mission."

King said that by fall 2015 those savings could be more than $300,000.

"It's exciting," he said. "There's a lot going on."

One thing that is going on is FHSU OER Day Tuesday, Nov. 11, in the Memorial Union's Black and Gold Room. Nine faculty members and staff people involved in the university's institutional push to find ways to cut the costs of higher education will make presentations on different aspects of open resources.

The event is a come-and-go affair for faculty, intended to open them up to the value of OER and to give them information on how to do it. It will last from 11 a.m., when interim Provost Chris Crawford, an enthusiastic promoter of OER, will give a welcome, to about 2:30.

The full schedule is available through the FHSU OER Day-November 11th link on the Web page at www.fhsu.edu/oer/. All presentations will be videoed and made available in on the OER website.

Topics and presenters include Dr. Robert Channell on his experience with OER as a professor of biological sciences. Dr. Gavin Buffington, professor of physics and chair of the department, will present "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- Tales from an Early Adopter."

Another presentation, this one in the afternoon, will address a topic in good, bad and ugly terms: Drs. Justin Greenleaf and Brent Goertzen on using student teams to create OERs. King highlighted one 800-level leadership studies class that produced chapters for an OER text for 300-level undergraduate students.

The afternoon will also include Masyn Phoenix, open education librarian at Forsyth Library, and Seung Gutsch, pronounced "sing gooch" (the oo sound rhymes with "due"), instructional designer for the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technologies, will talk about "Finding, Creating, Implementing OERs."

King will open the afternoon round with a presentation on a "New Launch of OER Mini-Grants." The initial rounds of grants were issued so far to encourage faculty members to engage in the hard work necessary to either create open-resource classes or reconfigure existing classes for open resource methods.

The first round of grants totaled $18,000, said King, and the second round, about to be launched, is $35,000. This round, he said, is intended to encourage early adopters to keep innovating and to generate new developers who will be able to learn from and expand on the lessons of the last year. King emphasized the cost-effectiveness of the grants by noting that the $77,000 in textbook savings in seven classes over the summer and fall of this year resulted from about $5,000 in grants.

Classes using open resources have also increased dramatically since the first in the fall 2013 semester. That class was the only one that semester. Spring 2014 saw five open resource classes, but this fall's class offerings had 143 OER courses.

The university has made a commitment to exploring OER as a way to meet its mission of offering quality education at affordable prices, said King.

In an email encouraging faculty to attend as many of the sessions as possible, Provost Crawford noted that research has shown that one of the main reasons students leave before earning a degree is the expense.

"No news," said Crawford. "Our students often work 20-plus hours per week. Whatever we can do to help control the cost of resources helps our students stay in school and miss fewer classes due to work-related conflicts and fatigue."

He also promised that funding for the mini-grants will be available. "If Dennis runs out of money, I'll find a way to get more funds to support OER adoption."

FHSU receives affordability recognition for online Master's programs

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Affordability and online education are hallmarks for Fort Hays State University, and GetEducated.com, a consumer group dedicated to rating both, has again recognized FHSU programs.

FHSU programs earned seven top-10 affordability rankings in four GetEducated categories, including three No. 1 rankings.

FHSU's Master of Liberal Studies with an emphasis in educational leadership and management, administration, was No. 1 in two GetEducated categories, Best Affordable Master's in Education and also in Best Affordable Master's in Educational Leadership.

In GetEducated's Best Affordable Online Master's in Educational Technology category, FHSU's Master of Liberal Studies with an emphasis in instructional technology was No. 1 and the universities Master of Science in instructional technology was No. 4. The master of Science in instructional technology also placed in the top 10 in another category, coming in at No. 10 among Best Affordable Masters in Education.

FHSU's Master of Science in special education was No. 3 in GetEducated's Best Affordable Online Master's Degree in Special Education category.

Two other FHSU degrees also earned No. 4 affordability rankings, the Master of Science in Education, in Best Affordable Master's in Education, and the Master of Science in educational administration, principal, in Best Affordable Master's in Education Leadership.

GetEducated.com is a consumer group that provides a fact-based compilation of comparative data on 3,672 accredited online degrees to help students locate the highest-quality online education programs in selected career areas. A million and a half online students visit GetEducated.com annually seeking advice on online degree programs.

The online students will receive more than an affordable education while virtually attending FHSU. With many of the same services offered to them as students on campus, they are able to receive tutoring and textbooks, are able to work with career services, and are able to participate in a variety of different organizations.

According to Virtual College statistics, FHSU has 6,965 virtual students with 455 faculty members to accommodate them, an instructor for every 15 students. This amount of students per instructor presents exceptional levels for communicating with the other students in the virtual classes and with the instructor, said Kathleen Dougherty, online student communication strategist for FHSU's Virtual college.

GetEducated.com is a consumer advocacy group that rates and ranks online college degrees for their cost and credibility. The group issues report cards on degree programs in an effort to bring transparency to the selection process in terms of cost, public perception and verified student satisfaction.

Pre-Enrollment for the Spring 2015 semester

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Pre-Enrollment for the Spring 2015 semester begins soon!  Please see the Academic Calendar for your date to pre-enroll.  You can also check your date by logging into TigerEnroll and selecting the semester you wish to pre-enroll in.

Pre-enrollment is the time when you select your class schedule for the upcoming semester.  You will pre-enroll yourself in courses on the TigerEnroll system.  Once pre-enrolled, these classes are saved until you make payment arrangements in TigerEnroll or until the enrollment deadline has passed.  

It's important that you take advantage of an Advising Appointment prior to pre-enrolling yourself in courses.  Academic Advisors can assist you in selecting courses for the upcoming semester.  Many courses have pre-requisites or co-requisites, so it's important to discuss your schedule with your advisor.  It is also a great time to discuss your progress towards graduation and your career goals.  Academic Advisors of virtual students are often available using a variety of avenues, such as phone, instant messaging, video conferencing (such as Skype and Google Hangouts), and email.  Not sure who your advisor is?  Log into TigerTracks and click on "Advisor Information".

Prior to your advising appointment, complete the following:
1.    Review your online degree summary or course checklist to make sure everything is updated.
2.    Check TigerEnroll to ensure that you don't have any enrollment holds on your account (second tab).
3.    Review potential course options and their accompanying prerequisites on TigerTracks (to view prerequisites, just click on the course title in TigerTracks).
4.    Prepare any additional questions you may have.  Your advisor will do his or her very best to answer any questions that you may have, and at the very least, direct you to the appropriate department.
Once pre-enrollment begins, courses fill up fast!  It's important to pre-enroll on your designated day in order to avoid missing out on the courses you need.

Happy Pre-Enrolling!

Awards – Why They Matter, and Why They Don’t

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Awards – Why They Matter, and Why They Don’t

A really wonderful problem for a university to have is having to build more trophy cases. Winning awards, whether on the athletic field or in the classroom, is always great as it shows a tangible outcome to the efforts that go into making the student experience everything it should be.

Last week, Fort Hays State University was recognized by TheBestSchools.org in an article entitled “The Best Online College in Each of America’s Fifty States.” According to the publisher, we were selected as the best in Kansas based on academic excellence, course and degree offerings, faculty strengths and reputation for online degree programs. You can read the full article at http://www.thebestschools.org/features/best-online-college-in-each-american-state . Since the article lists the schools in alphabetical order by state, you will need to scroll down a bit. You’ll find that TheBestSchools.org recognized the same benefits of an FHSU online education that U.S. News & World Report recognized earlier this year when they ranked our online programs #16 nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, #20 for Best Online Graduate Education Programs, and #64 for Best Online Graduate Business Programs. When combined with online tuition that is in the bottom 2% in the United States, FHSU does offer value that is truly remarkable, and it’s great when other organizations notice.

So, honestly, these awards do mean a lot to us.  They are third-party recognition of the constant and dedicated effort we put into online education here at FHSU. When we win awards, and in a year like this year when there are almost too many to count, we do feel good about the recognition.

On the other hand, winning awards is only a by-product of the ongoing, intense focus we have on student success. We don’t think about awards when we try to better serve our students. For example, at a time when most universities were cutting back on new programs and initiatives, we invested a significant sum of money into creating a professional advising group to serve most of our 6,000+ online students with a more personalized and comprehensive advising service. We are always looking for better ways to serve students so they will be successful in their academic pursuits. That’s really what drives us, day after day. We do listen to feedback from our students, and encourage it.

The awards are great, and we like winning them. However, awards or no awards, our focus in on student success, and always will be. It is at the core of what we do, and at the end of the day, it’s the successes we’ve had with our students that really makes us proud.

Brad Goebel

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