Distance education increasing at SD universities
By Bob Mercer
SPEARFISH — Nearly 22,000 individual students enrolled in distance education courses through South Dakota’s public universities during the 2012-2013 school year, up 8.5 percent from the previous year and up 65 percent overall during the past five.
So says a report scheduled for discussion this afternoon by the state Board of Regents, whose members govern the public universities.
Students in distance courses in the past year most frequently were undergraduates (75.5 percent), part-timers (69.9 percent) and female (64 percent).
The University of South Dakota had the largest slice of distance education with 34.4 percent of the enrollment and nearly 38 percent of the courses.
South Dakota State University was right behind in enrollment at 33.4 percent, followed by Black Hills State University at 13.2, Northern State University at 9.2, Dakota State University at 7.8 and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology at 2.0.
Distance education covers a variety of delivery methods. Some courses are available solely through the Internet, others combine Internet and video technology and also involve correspondence, and there are classroom courses at off-campus locations.
Students taking distance courses increasingly tend to be from outside South Dakota.
The 6,394 non-residents came from almost every state in the nation last year and represented just shy of 30 percent of the total taking distance courses. Five years earlier, the number was 2,399 and the percent was just under 24.
Non-degree-seeking students comprised 30.9 percent of undergraduates and 61.4 percent of graduate-level students in distance courses last year. Nursing, elementary education, pre-nursing and biology were the top four degree-specific programs for undergraduates.
Among degree-specific programs, graduate students enrolled most often in education administration, business administration, administrative studies and curriculum and education.