News Release
Contacts: Robert T. Tad Perry, Executive Director
Tracy Mercer, Information Research Analyst

T: 605.773.3455
F: 605.773.5320


For Immediate Release 25 January 2002

E-Learning Opportunities Expand at Northern

PIERRE-The South Dakota Board of Regents, meeting today at the Ramkota River Centre in Pierre, authorized development of proposals by Northern State University for a Master of Science in Education in E-Learning and Instructional Design. Authorization was also granted to NSU for the development of a proposal for a Master of Science in E-Learning Technology and Administration. The Regents approved a minor in E-learning and 16 new certificate programs to be offered at Northern.

"As one of the most wired states in the nation, South Dakota has evolved E-learning into an essential tool in South Dakota schools and businesses. The continued growth and effectiveness of E-learning in South Dakota has created a great demand for persons who are capable of planning, developing, and/or administrating the new technologies involved in distance education. Home to the Center for Statewide E-learning, Northern is the most logical choice for the new masters degree programs that will produce such graduates," said Regents Executive Director Robert T. Tad Perry.

The proposed Master of Science Degree in E-learning and Instructional Design will be structured to prepare South Dakota students to assume larger roles in the state's nonprofit and business sectors as well as in the state's educational systems. Graduates of the program will meet the growing demand for people who can provide high quality courses and educational experiences using distance-learning technologies.

The proposed Master of Science Degree in E-learning Technology and Administration will be structured to prepare e-learning technology support personnel for schools, businesses, and the public sector to support delivery of technology-based learning curricula and to manage complex distance delivery programs. The program will provide graduates with a combination of technology skills, basic pedagogy, and administrative skills and knowledge. Although this degree will share a core of technology and pedagogy courses with the proposed M.S. ED. in E-learning and Instructional Design, the focus of the M.S. in E-learning Technology and Administration will be on technology support and administrative leadership. Within the M.S. degree, students will be able to pursue careers in K-12 schools, higher education, business, and government. They will be able to choose from four specialty areas: Technology Support for Schools and Business Education; Multimedia Design for Educational E-Delivery; Development of Educational Software; and Design and Administration of E-learning Networks.

The new E-learning will teach students a variety of strategies using several technological platforms. Classes will include lecture, discussion, hands-on application of skills and knowledge, practice teaching, case study, and student presentations. Students will learn through use of the Internet resources, WebCT on-line materials, multi-media presentations, interactive software, and through hands-on practice using Dakota Digital Network and videoconferencing technologies. The minor requires 18 credit hours.

Sixteen new technology proficiency certificates have also been approved. The new certificates include e-learning specializations in: research, instructional design, software applications, digital video production, course delivery, computer maintenance and configuration, website administration, website design and development, database management systems, digital imaging, educational multi-media design and production, information technology management, network and telecommunications administration, object oriented programming, web application development. The new certificates consist of 9 to 12 credit hours including prerequisites and offer a specialized focus in E-learning.

"At Northern State University graduates will have the unique advantage of having a laboratory setting in the Center for Statewide E-learning for observation and practice. Combining the graduate program with the Center enables students to gain the experience and insights necessary for designing educationally effective uses of e-learning technologies. The Center for Statewide E-learning offers South Dakota students unparalleled opportunities to engage in research and in the development of theoretical and hands-on knowledge," said Northern State University President John Hilpert.

Graduates in the E-learning field will fill current and future needs for distance education professionals. The need for E-learning professionals in business is predicted to increase dramatically. According to E-learning Magazine, September 2001, experts predict that U.S. corporate spending on E-learning will rise from $550 million in 1998 to $14.5 billion by 2004. The U.S. Department of Education reported that enrollment in distance education has more than doubled in the past three years. In South Dakota, the Department of Education and Cultural Affairs Office of Technology reported that South Dakota E-learning courses offered across the Digital Dakota Network went from zero in 1999 to 69 courses in Fall 2001. In Fall 2001 DDN served more than 1,000 students. Distance education courses offered through South Dakota public universities served a total of 3,168 students in Fall 2001.

"When Governor Janklow had the vision to wire South Dakota schools through the 1996 Connecting the Schools project, he made South Dakota a leader in distance education. By providing advanced degrees in E-learning South Dakota public universities will solidify South Dakota's future leadership role," said Regents President Harvey C. Jewett.

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