COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri System launched a new website Tuesday that puts online courses from all four system schools in one place.
UM System leaders announced the launch of Missouri Online with a virtual news conference.
The project has been three years in the making, according to the UM System. However, the coronavirus pandemic helped the system learn about online learning needs.
Kristin Sobolik with the University of Missouri- St. Louis said the pandemic brought to light the importance of making sure high-quality online courses are being offered. The online courses offer extra tutoring and support.
“As an accredited, highly ranked four-campus university system that spans the geography of the state, we are best poised to provide programs for students that improve the economic and social vitality of the region,"
UM System President Mun Choi said.
The combined online universities offer more than 260 online degree and certificate programs, with 22 additional programs coming online in 2021. The UM System spent $20 million building the new program.
“This official launch of Missouri Online will build on our recent success in digital education and enrollment,” Matthew Gunkel, chief online learning and technology officer, said in a news release.
Gunkel said over the last five years, online programs have grown by 49%, with a 46% growth in online enrollment. These numbers are separate from the shift to virtual learning caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Higher Education Zora Mulligan said Missouri Online will help working adults further their education, improving the economy. The platform will be helpful for people that struggle with finding time for college course work.
Mulligan said they began to track enrollment rates in March when the pandemic started and have since seen a 4% decline in enrollment at 4-year colleges throughout the state. With the offering of full online degree courses, there are more opportunities for individuals.
"This was key in my ability to pursue this degree," said Angela Tennison, associate dean for Student and Academic Affairs at the MU College of Veterinary Medicine and student at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
Tennison said she has been thinking about getting her masters degree for a long period of time, but was struggling to find time to do so. She said the online platform has worked great for her and she feels connected to her classmates that are in different parts of the country.
Online classes is something that college students have struggled with. Sophomore at University of Missouri, Sarah Petrowich, said it was more difficult for her to learn online for the past few semesters.
Petrowich said the hard part for her was taking it upon herself to read chapters, watch videos, and other activities that is usually covered in class.
"I have a lot more in person this semester than I did last semester," said Petrowich. She said most of her classes have the option to join through zoom or come in-person. The option is convenient for her on days that she can not make it to campus, but can still tune in online.
Fewer than half of Missourians ages 25-64 have an associate degree or higher, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 900,000 Missourians in the same age group have started college but haven’t finished.