September 19, 2017  

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Southern Miss Establishes New Office of Online Learning

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As the number of students taking online courses continues to grow, The University of Southern Mississippi has initiated steps to meet their academic needs with the establishment of a new Office of Online Learning.

In the fall of 2014, approximately 600 students were enrolled in fully online degree programs at Southern Miss. This past semester enrollment eclipsed 1,200, and University officials anticipate the number will likely increase.

Dr. Tom Hutchinson, who will serve as the Interim Director of the Office of Online Learning, notes that students and faculty at Southern Miss will reap significant benefits from the new office.

“For the first time, students and faculty will have a department focused solely on online learning,” said Hutchinson. “We want our students to succeed and are offering new ways for students to get help with any problems related to their online classes, technology, and University procedures. Our new office offers streamlined services that will positively impact student and faculty success as well as increase knowledge about our online programs.”

Services to be offered by the Office of Online Learning include:

  • One-on-one training in use of Blackboard
  • Proctoring for online exams
  • Assistance with marketing of online degree programs
  • Supplemental support for fully online students
  • Online course development support

The new office will work closely with the Graduate School, the Office of Admissions, and the Office of New Student and Retention Programs to ensure consistency in communication, outreach, and support of Southern Miss students across all units.

“The growth in fully online students and programs necessitates greater support for our departments, colleges, faculty, and students,” said Dr. Amy C. Miller, Associate Provost for Academic Excellence. “With increasing regulation and compliance mandates, it is essential that we have a staff devoted to providing the level of training, technical services, and student support that is needed.”

Staff members from the University’s Learning Enhancement Center who worked previously in the area of online learning will constitute the Office of Online Learning. They now will be able to focus exclusively on online student, faculty, and programs needs as part of the new office.

“Our immediate goal is to collaborate with other offices to further develop, grow, and improve our fully online programs,” said Hutchinson. “The Office of Online Learning will work with faculty to improve the quality of online courses while assisting with the strategic growth and advancement of online programs offered by Southern Miss.”

 

To learn more about the Office of Online Learning at Southern Miss, contact Hutchinson at 601.266.5518 or Thomas.hutchinson@usm.edu