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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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NMSU distance education enrollment more than doubles

Enrollment in distance education programs offered by New Mexico State University has more than doubled since last year, as increasing numbers of students take advantage of new opportunities for achieving their educational and professional goals.

De Necochea, vice president for student services and dean of students, said preliminary enrollment reports show an increase of 137 percent in the number of students enrolled in distance education programs, from 373 last fall to 855 this year.

Although the number is still a relatively small percentage of the more than 15,000 students enrolled in programs offered by the NMSU main campus, distance education is one of the university's fastest-growing program areas, she said.

Carmen Gonzales, vice provost for distance education and dean of extended learning, said distance education programs are developed to meet the needs of students who cannot come to the Las Cruces campus for classes, often because of job and family considerations.

"I've been looking at the needs of the state, traveling a lot and talking to people about their needs," Gonzales said. "We're not just offering classes, we are putting up entire programs, so that people know they can finish the program by distance education."

The programs range from those that are offered entirely over the Internet to those that are taught by NMSU faculty members at distant locations.

Web-based degree programs include a Master of Criminal Justice program that is designed for professionals in that field who want to advance their careers, and a new Bachelor of Human and Community Services degree, Gonzales said.

NMSU faculty members travel to branch campuses to teach courses in a "2-plus-2" program that allows branch campus students in Alamogordo, Carlsbad and Grants to complete a bachelor's degree in education at the local branch. "This program is responding to the shortage of teachers in the state," Gonzales said.

A new doctoral program for community college administrators is an example of a "blended" program that involves a mix of face-to-face components and alternative methods such as interactive television (ITV).

"That program is done over ITV with Web-based backup," Gonzales said. "The instructors travel to seven different sites, so the students do see the faculty member in person a couple of times a semester."

The university's distance education offerings also include a Master of Social Work program based in Albuquerque that has doubled its enrollment since last year, and an online degree-completion program in sociology that allows students to take their junior- and senior-year courses over the Internet.

Altogether, the university now has 13 distance education programs up and running, with a goal of having 25 programs by 2005, Gonzales said.