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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Distance ed offers flexibility, new online degree in sociology available this fall

Times have changed and so has the student body. Many of today's students are also mothers and fathers with full-time jobs and a lot of responsibility.

s who are not able to participate in a traditional college experience have an option -- distance education, said Carmen Gonzales, vice provost for distance education at New Mexico State University.

"Distance education is offering quality programs to students who are located around the state and elsewhere, who for some reason are place-bound and cannot come to the university campus and take classes," Gonzales said. "(Distance education) is giving people an opportunity to get further education."

The number of students at NMSU participating in distance education has grown by 70 percent in the past year, she said.

Beginning in the fall, the university will offer a new online undergraduate degree in sociology.

"Sociology is a really good liberal arts degree...that lends itself to teaching online,"said Wenda Trevathan, sociology and anthropology department head. "It's a degree that most people understand and is useful in our everyday lives."

Interested students will be able to take upper-division (junior and senior level) courses online. The classes will be offered on a rotating schedule over a two-year period so students can take up to four sociology classes each semester. This fall students can enroll in Social Research Methods (SOC 352), Sociology of the Family (SOC 359), Social Inequality (SOC 375) and Social Change (SOC 376G).

For the past 20 years, New Mexico State has offered distance education through various delivery methods such as off-site extension, via satellite and WebCT.

Although all three are widely used, Gonzales said the wave of the future is teaching and learning on the Web.

"The most popular form of distance education being used today is Web-based because you are not tied to a certain time or location," she said. "People can do it whenever time allows them."

Another promising distance education delivery method is Centra, a synchronous Web delivery solution for virtual or "live" classroom events over the Internet.

"Everybody can be on at the same time with this program," Gonzales said. "Also, you have more capabilities such as video streaming and audio."

Distance education programs at NMSU include associate's degrees, bachelor's degree completion, master's degrees and doctoral degrees. In addition, certificate and licensure programs are available. Students are able to receive degrees in elementary education, nursing, social work, criminal justice, mechanical engineering and many others.

For more information on distance education, call Gonzales at (505) 646-4692. For more information on the sociology program, e-mail Trevathan at wtrevath@nmsu.edu.