University News

Distance & Online Learning Opportunities Expand at WIU

April 21, 2009

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL -- According to the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences, during the 2006-07 academic year, 66 percent of the 4,160 two-year and four-year Title IV degree-granting postsecondary institutions in the nation offered college-level distance education courses.

While Western Illinois University has been offering courses via distance learning since the 1970s, the University is expanding its online and distance learning offerings to reach more individuals who may be placebound, according to WIU Provost and Academic Vice President Jack Thomas.

Under the leadership of Richard Carter, director of Western's School of Extended Studies, the University has initiated a new process for developing online courses, which includes the technical support and expertise of Western's Center for the Application of Information Technologies (CAIT) and faculty training by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research (CITR).

According to Carter, funding of $5,000 per course is available to faculty who propose and are selected to create and develop a new online course. The first cohort of faculty is currently developing 11 new online courses to be debuted this year. Some of the courses include MUS 190 (What to Listen for in Music), SOC 300 (Minority Peoples), IDT 538 (Imaging Technology) and FIN 301 (Personal Finance Planning). This summer, 69 courses will be offered online, an increase of 28 online courses from last year.

"I've been actively working with each of the four college deans to increase the number of online course offerings," Carter said. "During the Spring 2009 semester, online enrollment nearly doubled at Western. More courses were offered this semester and more seats were available, which led to more students taking online courses through Western than ever before."

In Fall 2008, extension enrollment at Western increased 31.8 percent. A complete listing of online courses is available (click on "Online Courses").

"By adding more online courses within the past year, we are extending the walls of WIU beyond our Macomb and Quad Cities campuses," Thomas added. "As a result, we have established several new partnerships with Illinois community colleges, and we are providing additional educational opportunities to placebound students throughout the nation through Western's fully-online Board of Trustees Bachelor of Arts (BOT/BA) degree program."

Enrollment in the BOT/BA program has risen 30 percent since the launch of the increased distance learning options, Thomas noted.

"It is important to accommodate the needs of all of our students, whether they are traditional students at our Macomb and Quad Cities campuses, at an off-site location in Illinois or taking classes from the comfort of their home in Texas," Thomas explained. "By providing courses online, we are able to provide educational opportunities to those individuals who may not be able to attend a class on campus."

For more information about online and distance courses at Western Illinois University, contact Carter at (309) 298-1929 or For more information about the School of Extended Studies and online initiatives, visit

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Communications & Marketing