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Enrollment was up 2.4 percent at the Vail-Eagle Valley Campus in Edwards


Vail Daily staff report

Enrollment in Colorado Mountain College's distance learning courses increased 29 percent this semester. Colorado Mountain College photo by Ed Kosmicki.

Enrollment in Colorado Mountain College's distance learning courses increased 29 percent this semester. Colorado Mountain College photo by Ed Kosmicki.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado— Enrollment in distance learning courses at Colorado Mountain College has jumped 29 percent this semester compared to last fall. Enrollment was up 2.4 percent at the Vail-Eagle Valley Campus in Edwards.

The growing popularity of the college’s distance learning opportunities has prompted two new fully online associate degrees. In August, the Higher Learning Commission, which provides accreditation for the college, approved the college’s new associate of arts and associate of general studies online degrees.

“For those who need a fully online option, we are now able to meet that need,” said Daryl Yarrow, the college’s vice president who oversees distance learning. “We have many students whose schedules do not allow them to attend classes in traditional formats.”

Colorado Mountain College students can take three different types of distance learning courses. Teleweb uses a combination of Internet instruction and recorded lectures that students watch on videotape or DVD. The college’s interactive video system allows students to take part in classes taught from other campuses by sitting in a video-equipped room at their local campus. Classes are also taught through Blackboard, an Internet interface in which students access the course materials online and interact with instructors and other students on online discussion boards.

Yarrow said popular distance courses include topics in math and science, but most in demand are classes in social sciences and business. Courses related to medical fields, including the college’s medical assistant program that started in January, are experiencing strong enrollments this fall.

As of mid-September, 1,188 students had enrolled in distance learning for the fall semester, an increase of 268 over the same time last year.

“Certainly the difficult economy has brought more students to the college who are seeking further education or retraining,” Yarrow said. “We are trying to help meet that need with additional online classes.”

Yarrow said the distance learning program continues to evolve to meet student needs. The program will hire a part-time counselor specifically for online students. New this fall, the program is offering accelerated online courses. A variety of three-credit courses such as American government, art appreciation and introduction to business will be offered in eight weeks rather than the usual 15 to 16 weeks.

Studies show that distance learning works best for self-disciplined, independent students with college-level reading and writing skills, and students who have an immediate need to take a course. Potential online students at Colorado Mountain College may complete a self assessment at www.coloradomtn.edu/distancelearning to determine whether this format fits their learning needs and personal circumstances.

This story was reprinted from the Oct. 6 edition of the Vail Daily.