GREENVILLE – If there’s one institution in the UNC System that’s led the way in online education, it’s East Carolina University.
“We are the leader in distance learning in the state of North Carolina,” Dr. Regis Gilman, Executive Director of Continuing Studies at ECU, says in the accompanying video. “We’ve been doing it for a long time.”
ECU offers roughly 1,000 online courses in 16 undergraduate majors, 40 post-graduate majors and 56 graduate certificate programs. It offers 40 programs that are not offered anywhere else online in North Carolina, Gilman says.
“It’s the institution consciously making a decision to make our academic resources available to distance students the same as they’re available to campus students,” she says. “There is no difference. We use the same faculty…. Everything is the same.”
As of last fall, ECU had 6,526 students taking all their courses online, plus another 5,600 who take at least one course online, for a total of more than 12,000 online students. Talk about outreach to rural students – online ECU students can be found in 99 of North Carolina’s 100 counties, as well as a variety of other countries.
“They’re working, or they have families, or they travel in their job,” Gilman says. “They’re place-bound. They live here in Greenville, but they work during the day, and so they have to take their courses online. It’s a way for place-bound and time-bound students to continue their education.”
Gilman stresses that online students can still have rich interactions with other students.
“We want them to have that collegiate experience,” she says. “What I never want to happen is a student in an online course to feel isolated – that they’re the only one in the class. I want them to use discussion boards. I want them to interact with their peers, and you build that sense of community even though you are in an online class….
“Wherever you are, wherever you want to go, ECU is there.”