• Bull_Computerwork2.jpg
    Program coordinator Prince Bull gives lectures to students right from his office via webcam. Photo by Evan Owens / Echo staff reporter

Online education program brings recognition to NCCU

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Chances are you may have never seen it.

And you probably dread walking to it.

But sitting across the street and far from campus hubs like the library and the caf, the School of Education has brought national recognition to NCCU and new opportunities to its students.

The Education Technology program at NCCU’s School of Education came in at number 17 nationally, number two in North Carolina, and number one among HBCU’s on the U.S. News and World Report’s ranking of best online graduate education programs.

With an annual enrollment of 32 students, the program boasts a score of 100 in student engagement (the only program on the report to do so), and a 2014-2015 graduation rate of 93 percent.

So how are students so engaged, and what makes the program so effective?

Program coordinator Prince Bull said he gives students two promises when they begin the program:

“A great education, and to leave with a resume better than when you started.”

Unlike most undergrad programs, “non-traditional students” make up most of the enrollment. In other words, many students in the program are teaching part-time or full-time. That may seem like a lot on your plate, but Bull assures that he makes accommodations.

“We work with their schedules and we provide advisement to help students handle to work load,” he explained.

One such “non-traditional student,” 2011 graduate Shirlrona Johnson, was “not really surprised” about the ranking of the program.

“I took one class and realized I needed to take the whole program,” she said.

So she did. Johnson said that the program helped her take her career to the next level. Johnson is the Instructional Technology Facilitator at Person High School.

“Now, in my career, I get to share my expertise and make decisions that impact my district,” she said. “The program prepared me for that.”

According to Bull, the program is so effective at preparing educators thanks to a few different methodologies. One is its emphasis on “project-based learning.”

Students work in teams to design computer based models and other multimedia such as posters, flyers, PDFs, and MP4s.

The grading, Bull said, is subjective. That means there’s not always one right way of doing it, allowing for creative freedom among students.

But there’s more to it. Another way the program sets itself apart is with what Bull calls: “the bond.” And, no, not the spy.

He said the group environment forges a bond between students, and many keep in touch even after the program.

“There’s a lot of peer to peer interaction,” Bull explained. “With small class sizes, its easier for students to get to know one another.”

The third strategy playing a role in student success is something that all students have probably dreamed about during class.

We all know how frustrating it can be when a professor is talking/writing/teaching at a speed that just feels impossible to keep up with, especially for note takers.

But that’s what makes the Educational Technology program even more impressive, and perhaps appealing.

According to Bull, all lectures happen at a specific time via webcam. But (wait for it), lectures are recorded and can be replayed at any time. For students who are also teachers, this alleviates a lot of pressure from their already packed schedules.

Ultimately, the ranking is nice, but more important is what students who complete the program are doing with the knowledge.

“I know other people who have gone through other programs, and the program I went through offers more,” Johnson said, ““I feel like I’m able to make a bigger difference.”

 

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