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Why Community Colleges Can't Add Enough Online Courses To Meet Demand

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

An online degree program at Ivy Tech in manufacturing production and operations helps prepare students for the work force, according to a new report.

Community colleges across the country aren’t adding online courses fast enough to satisfy a growing demand for modern, job-oriented training, according to a recent Instructional Technology Council report. The ITC, however, recognized Ivy Tech’s online Manufacturing Production and Operations program as the kind of online degree that can translate into a decent job:

At a time when everyone seems to be pushing hard for increasing degree and credential completion in order to sustain the growth and strength of  America’s workforce, these programs look like winners, not only because they are offered in a flexible online learning modality, but also because they are in fields where the demand is high for new employees.

The recession continues to be the driving force behind growth in the adult education market according to the report, but schools say they’re having trouble adding online courses fast enough to meet the demand. The online program at Ivy Tech was one of seven recognized for its focus on workforce development.

In the past, colleges said the biggest barrier to expanding distance learning was hiring faculty with the training needed to teach online. This year, schools told ITC shrinking budgets have meant a reduction in student support staff. That means less support for distance learning students.

Students who want to take online courses may also lack the basic computing skills needed to be successful in a distance learning program, the report suggests. Non traditional students — those 26 years and older — were just as likely to be enrolled in online classes as those age 18 to 25.

Ivy Tech offers ten degree programs that can be completed entirely online.

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