At CSUN, we enhance the comprehensive impact of our online programs by offering them in the cohort format – in which groups of students move through the program together from beginning to end, creating a strong learning community and allowing each course to build on the last in a purposeful way.
“The cohort format allows students to develop a sense of community and build relationships with their peers and faculty in a way that most online programs don’t. We want our students to feel socially connected to one another and find success through working together as a unit.”—Pratima Dutta, Director of Distance Learning.
Students begin their journey by building networks in program-specific online learning communities called “Hubs.” The student “Hubs” are equivalent to an on-campus student union, and provide the most comprehensive social experience an online university can offer. These communities encompass everything from resources to advisement and career opportunities to symposiums.
Within each cohort, the CSUN faculty and eLearning team work together to utilize changing technologies, and digital resources to provide top-notch instructional strategies and create adaptive learning environments designed to enhance student engagement and student achievement.
CSUN’s online programs are more than just a set of courses. Each program is a comprehensive learning experience and collaboration which creates synergy between coursework & the professional world. In some programs, faculty develop case studies and assignments which span several courses to take students’ critical thinking skills and sophisticated professional abilities to higher levels. Faculty continuously update and refine their courses each semester to meet trends and the needs of their students.
A member of the CSUN eLearning team is assigned to work with each faculty member when developing and teaching an online course. The eLearning staff provide consultation for each program by focusing on best practices for instructional design for digital teaching and learning, effective instructional strategies, and approaches to course facilitation. CSUN also provides faculty and students with ongoing technical training and support for the Learning Management System (LMS), web tools unique to the program, and digital learning resources.
CSUN’s approach to developing online programs is agile in its ability to discover and use the most effective, new tools and continually link them to the learning environment. Because we provide in-house technical support and program development, there is no question about faculty having ready access to materials and seamless technical support. CSUN’s eLearning team is constantly looking ahead and regularly pursuing emerging technologies. They evaluate the potential of what they discover with an understanding of CSUN programs (both current and planned) and work to integrate them into the LMS. Through this approach we have become increasingly innovative, responsive, and engaged in the evolution of educational technologies in higher education worldwide.
CSUN has a distinct, proactive, and comprehensive approach to providing support to our online students. Because our online programs are designed to create a supportive and engaging educational environment, we assign both a faculty academic lead and a program support coordinator to each program. These individuals work with each student from the initial contact and application process through graduation and beyond. The academic lead works with the faculty members to ensure that the curriculum and instructional plan are properly tailored and executed to provide the highest quality education. The program support coordinator provides a source of guidance, encouragement and a single point of contact to access CSUN’s wide range of services.
Online students receive an intensive two-week orientation to prepare them for success. During orientation students will learn to use the technology effectively, and develop learning skills and study strategies that prepare them for success in the online program. The orientation also introduces students to the eLearning team who will be providing the technical support throughout the program and to the personalized 24/7 library resources available to them.
Our programs are predesigned so that students understand the program structure and degree requirements from the get go. At the onset, students receive a breakdown of the courses they will be taking each term for the duration of the entire program. Students are guaranteed enrollment in each of the required courses and, through this process, we’ve removed the uncertainty of traditional course registration and given the student the tools to plan ahead in their professional lives.
Typical Course Load:
- Two 3 credit hour classes per term
- 3 credit hour courses require:
- 3 hours of contact per week
- Contact is defined as lecture, discussion groups with classmates, or work with materials to prepare for class/discussion
- 6-9 hours of outside work
Our online programs have on-time graduation rates that average 70 to 80 percent, with some programs reaching over 90 percent. Graduates of CSUN online programs also regularly report finding positions in their field and receiving meaningful promotions following graduation.
As an example of our commitment to excellence in online education, surveyors from the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) complimented the university on the quality of its Communication Disorders and Sciences (CDS) online master’s degree program during a campus visit in October 2012. The online CDS master’s degree program, which has received the 2013 Outstanding Program Award from the University Professional & Continuing Education Association, has achieved an average on-time graduation rate of 73 percent over the 13 years that it has been offered.
In addition, CSUN’s pass rate results on the Praxis Examination* average 91 percent compared to the national average of 85.7 percent over the same three-year period between 2008 and 2011. This national examination is used by CDS online students to qualify for professional certification by ASHA as well as to qualify for licensure to practice in each state.
CSUN online programs continue to produce high graduation rates, national test scores and national recognition, which invigorates our commitment to push forward and seek ways to collaborate within campus lines to expand online programs. This success is attributed to our excellence in classroom instruction, proactive student services, and personalized, rigorous online learning communities.