Seeger Chapel steeple against an orange sunset

Milligan to create virtual classroom with new online courses

By Chelsea Farnam
Johnson City Press

MILLIGAN COLLEGE — Milligan College is expanding its borders, reaching off campus and into cyberspace with a series of new online courses. Beginning this summer, individuals interested in either completing a degree or pursuing a career in computer systems can take the Computer Information Systems – Mobile major without the confines of living on a college campus or even in East Tennessee.

“We are committed to becoming a more substantial college, but we’re running up against some geographical constraints,” said Milligan College Academic Dean Mark Matson, citing the college’s record enrollment for the past two years. Dorm space on the campus is now reaching capacity. “We’re trying to grow,” he said.

With offerings in either certification or a bachelor’s degree, the program is a first for Milligan College in that a student could receive a degree from the college without ever setting foot on the campus. Nonetheless, a bachelor’s degree necessitates the same general education requirements of any Milligan student, including nine credit hours of Bible. The certification program, however, only would include courses required for the major.

At $280 per credit hour, Milligan’s program ranks at nearly half the price of online universities such as Phoenix ($530) and DeVry ($575). As members of the Regents Online Degree Program, ETSU’s bachelor of professional studies in informational technology costs $795 per credit hour, while Northeast State Community College’s ranks at $450.

The CIS-Mobile major mirrors the traditional Milligan CIS major of 39 credit hours with the same courses and same faculty, excepting an internship which will be replaced with a computer information systems software course, due to difficulty in monitoring the internship from a distance.

“One of the things that will be the strength of this program is that is not cohort based, so students can pick whatever classes they want whenever they want them, as long as they meet the prerequisites,” said Carolyn Carter, professor of computer information systems and business administration. “Students can take the classes at their own pace.”

Courses will be offered in fall, summer and spring semesters, allowing the CIS-M students to finish in four years at the same pace as a traditional student or in as little as two years.

Matson anticipates three different types of students to the program. Since Milligan is partially funded by Christian churches and Churches of Christ across the country, Matson expects that individuals from other states will take part in a Milligan education at a distance. He also anticipates interest from local IT specialists who have experience but no degree, and finally individuals who work in business administration and seek an extra edge to their skill set.
Two CIS-Mobile courses have launched this summer with a total of about 17 students.

Matson is also developing an online curriculum for both Old Testament and New Testament courses, ready to roll out this school year. The college also plans to provide online courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics and humanities in the near future.

For now, the college hopes to confine online courses to non-traditional students, degree completion students and students of the CIS-Mobile major. However, that plan may change with future assessment.

“If we can prove that people can learn as well online as they do in the classroom, then we may relax those borders,” said Matson.

Posted by on July 10, 2009.