Learning online

CSU education looking to expand electronically

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— Colorado ranks fifth in the nation when education levels of residents are the measuring yardstick, and Colorado State University Vice Provost Lou Swanson said the plan is to make that number go even higher.

An opportunity to advance educations from online classes is a project in the works from CSU. The project calls for the creation of a new university going by the name "CSU Colorado."

"An online education, when done correctly, is as good as a university education," Swanson said during a Friday visit to the Craig CSU Extension Office. "We plan to make education accessible online, to traditional and nontraditional students."

The goals include linking the university closely with community colleges across Colorado, and incorporating the largest colleges at CSU into the program.

Health care and business education classes will be an important part of the plan, Swanson said.

"The plan is for the (CSU) business college to form a relationship with the extension services like never before in history," he said. "This is economic development at a grassroots level - to get science, technology, engineering and math out to the community."

The program will allow students a "seamless education" between CSU and community colleges, while saving expenses on housing and loss of income from jobs given up to attend the university.

University President Larry Penley began the initiative when he invited faculty and staff to define the goals of a "21st century land-grant university."

One goal was exploring boosting online education to residents already working in Colorado.

Online classes will allow instructors to start new sessions every two weeks in an 8- to 12-week course system.

The new system will not be exclusively higher education either, Swanson said.

"We're looking at working with kindergarten through 12th-grade students as well, and possibly linking 4-H students with education. They already have an extraordinary learning program in place."

Swanson said the online education system currently is a "vision," but approval by the board will send the proposal to the state legislature to create the new university.

Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or dolsen@craigdailypress.com

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