SMWC enhances distance program online

October 19th, 2011 | SMWC

For 38 years, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) has been a leader in distance education through the Woods External Degree (WED) and Woods Online programs. These programs are proven successes by providing the opportunity for thousands of adults to earn a rich liberal arts education in flexible formats.

To expand upon this success, both programs are now delivered online, which works as one program under a single administrative office. Under the umbrella of the Office of Distance Education, the distance program will be known as Woods Online. The program will maintain two formats – 8- and 16-weeks, which allows students to choose what works best for their lifestyle. The 8-week format, Woods Online, has been completely online from its inception 3 years ago. The 16-week format is what many have known as WED, which used electronic and traditional means of communication.

“I am excited about this natural progression of delivering our premier liberal arts education online,” said Dottie King, Ph.D., president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College. “This conversion allows us to utilize multiple methods to achieve student success. As we continually work to improve the educational experience, the focus of the College remains the same – to prepare students to be critical thinkers, educate the whole person, promote  leadership and community responsibility – yes, even at a distance.”

While many distance students are self-directed by nature, the online course conversion allows for flexible instruction and responsive support. Students will discover more opportunities for active engagement in the learning process. The courses will be delivered in an interactive, online format. For the students, this means consistent access to course materials,more faculty-lead instruction and more opportunities for interaction with classmates. Additionally, courses may be incorporated from both formats easily in a single semester.

Preparation for the transition began about a year ago. “The faculty participated in a variety of training sessions and also in a process of continuous course improvement,” explained Janet Clark, Ph.D., vice president of academic affairs. “We selected a quality review team to ensure courses meet interaction standards and requirements while supporting our learning objectives,” added Clark.   

The administration believes the Woods Online name reflects the College’s long-term strategy, retains brand recognition and closely aligns and strengthens the identity of its distance program. By retaining ‘Woods’ in the name, the College embraces the evolution of its history in distance education by expanding an online format to make an even better educational experience for its students.

One of the College’s most distinctive programs, the WED program has empowered students for decades in the Wabash Valley and around the country to change or advance their careers.  

“From the faculty to the administrators, personal contact is our hallmark,” shared Gwen Hagemeyer, director of the Office of Distance Education. “Our student-centered approach drives students to our program. It clearly resonates with adult students with an apprehension about attending college and quickly find SMWC adapts to their season in life."

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