OPS operations successful; enrollment on the rise

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Amanda Johnson -- The Online and Professional Studies program offers hybrid and fully online courses for students.

Work all day, drive to California Baptist University, go to class at 6 p.m. for several hours, and hurry home to see the family.

This was the routine for undergraduate and graduate students at CBU before there was the Online Professional Studies program.

Prof. Dirk Davis, dean of academics for Online and Professional Studies explained the average traditional undergraduate student age ranges from eighteen to twenty-two while the average age for the adult undergraduate student age is about twenty-five to forty.

“An adult student, who has an income, [meaning] they have a job and they work all day and attended four and a half hours of class on campus along with raising a family made it difficult to attend school,” Davis said.

When OPS was established in 2010, changes were made from past operational models and was broken down into 3 categories.

The first is the structure of the program. OPS has full-time faculty: a Vice President, Dean of Academics,

Dean of Technology, Dean of Enrollment Services, Senior Director of Marketing and Professors, who are trained to teach the online courses offered.

OPS at CBU has grown and expanded considerably. Before Jan. 2010, OPS had 567 students enrolled in its program. Today, the program has almost doubled in size, approaching the mark of 1,000 students.

The second change is the technology infrastructure, the main functioning system. They have a separate network from the main campus at CBU; however, Davis said they still work collaboratively under the “CBU umbrella.”

And the third change is the class schedule. The traditional college experience is based in the classroom. OPS provides the opportunity to take a course either completely online or as a hybrid course which is a course partially online and partially in the classroom.

Most hybrid courses meet once a week for only two hours while the rest of the course material is online.

Those students who are not enrolled in OPS, but are still students who attend CBU, have the opportunity to take select OPS

courses either through the hybrid course or the fully online course. Davis said there are currently several students who attend the main campus taking courses through a hybrid class and/or fully online.

OPS is extremely successful because the online courses look beyond just putting material up on Blackboard for students to read.

Davis explained OPS manages student engagement, where there is enhanced interaction between faculty and students using a variety of Web 2.0 tools.

“We map out the type of learning activity, the faith integration, how many minutes it [should] take… we map out all of that for every activity,” Davis said.

The professors, who instruct the online courses, go through rigorous seminars to fully prepare them to teach online.

Every professor attends four Online Teaching and Learning seminars with different focuses in community building, course design, teaching techniques and evaluation and assessment.

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