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Community colleges partner with UI to offer degrees

BY ALINA RUBEZHOVA | JUNE 25, 2009 7:21 AM

Angela Crookshank, who graduated with an associate’s degree from Des Moines Area Community College in May, plans to teach at the college after completing a UI degree.

This fall, she may be the first batch of the Des Moines school’s students to do so without coming to Iowa City.

The Des Moines community college has recently joined the UI’s list of partner schools, offering two “blended” programs — featuring distance learning and on-campus discussions with UI instructors — for students who have completed their associate’s degrees.

“[This program] is very good. It’s nice to be somewhere close to pursue my degree,” Crookshank said.

The two degrees are called Bachelor of Applied Studies and Bachelor of Liberal Studies. They are intended for students who wish to complete a bachelor’s degree but because of employment or family responsibilities cannot complete their schooling as full-time students on campus.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the 2006-07 academic year, two- and four-year institutions reported roughly 12.2 million students enrolled in distance-education programs, with 12 percent in blended courses.

Chet Rzonca, the dean of continuing education at the UI, said Bachelor of Applied Studies degrees have been offered at colleges around the state, but the idea of blended instruction will not start anywhere until the fall.

There are roughly 100 students, and he anticipates between 15-20 people at each site in upcoming semesters. In addition to the Des Moines community college, the program will also be offered at Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City, Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, and Eastern Iowa Community College District in Davenport.

Steve Carpenter, the public-information director at Kirkwood, lauded the on-site discussions.

“Some people learn differently than others,” he said. “We’re just trying to broaden the options.”

It means road trips for instructors.

David Hensley, a UI clinical professor and the executive director of the Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, will be the professor on-site for the eastern Iowa locations this fall. He said travel expenses for central Iowa locations haven’t yet been decided.

The programs differ from degrees such as Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences in replacing majors with concentrations, but they are otherwise intended to be equal.

“The online program — core courses, assignments, and evaluation — will be identical to what we teach in class,” Hensley said. “It’s important to have it be the exact same.”

For some companies, a difference in degree acronyms is unimportant. Scott Gomer, media-relations director at ACT in Iowa City, said they typically look at individuals on a one-on-one basis when evaluating them.

“Managers typically look at candidate’s attributes and résumés,” he said.


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