NIC's distance education enrollment grows 22 percent over last year

Participation in North Idaho College’s distance education program has grown 22 percent over last year, according to a recent report. Enrollment, as measured by total students in all distance education classes, grew to 6,851 in the 2005-2006 academic year over its 2004-2005 enrollment of 5,616.
NIC’s distance education program has grown substantially since it was first initiated at NIC in the 1998-1999 school year, now accounting for 19 percent of all NIC duplicated course enrollments. That year, enrollment in distance education programs was 698. This is termed a duplicated headcount, meaning the total number of students in all classes is counted, rather than the total number of individuals taking those classes. In essence, if one student takes three online classes the enrollment count is three.
These figures include students participating in dual credit courses delivered through distance education. Dual credit allows high school juniors and seniors to enroll in college-level courses for both high school and college credit.
Distance education programs also include face-to-face NIC courses taught on site at one of NIC’s outreach locations, through interactive video conferencing, the Internet or hybrid courses consisting of a combination of the various instructional methods. The hybrid courses were initiated in 2005 as a test project. Since then, more than 1,375 students have enrolled in the 92 classes offered through this method. A total of 1,213 students are enrolled in hybrid courses this fall alone.
“The hybrid courses allow faculty to use the best tools to impact teaching and learning,” said NIC Director of Distance Education Candace Wheeler. “In this technological age, using the best tools to deliver the curriculum is a win for the instructors and for the students.”
Aside from the hybrid classes, the largest area of growth has been in Internet enrollments, growing 129 percent from 1,805 four years ago to 4,127 in the 2005-2006 academic year. NIC currently offers 248 Internet classes.
NIC operates three centers throughout the five northern counties of Idaho, offering academic, workforce training and community education courses.
The NIC Sandpoint Center opened in March of 2000 and recently moved to Ponderay. In the fall of 2006, the NIC Ponderay Center hosted 20 courses and had 257 enrollments.
The NIC Silver Valley Center opened in January 2005 and now includes 145 enrollments in 19 courses.
The NIC Bonners Ferry Center, NIC’s newest outreach center, opened in July 2006 and now has seven courses and 51 enrollments.
Distance education is also offered in St. Maries, Plummer/Worley and Wallace as well as numerous high schools and businesses that offer classroom sites throughout these communities.
NIC’s distance education program boasts an 89 percent completion rate in all of its courses.
“Education is what NIC does as an institution and we need to make teaching and learning as accessible as possible,” Wheeler said. “In providing a variety of delivery methods, NIC has been successful by focusing on the student and access to our courses.”

For More Information
NIC Distance Education Director Candace Wheeler, (208) 769-5906

Posted: Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

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