The university unveiled last-week a new strategic plan to further develop its online programs, which aim to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.
According to the Strategic Vision, USC will offer access to education to more people in order to meet the growing demand for educated workers.
“New modes of learning and societal needs require that we reinvent undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral education,” the Strategic Plan states. “Changing demographics and public demands require we provide greater access to, and accountability in, higher education.”
Binh Tran, the executive director of the Distance Education Network at the Viterbi School of Engineering, said the university has progressed toward the goal of providing education to more people by creating online programs with an emphasis on a professional education.
“We create programs, which, especially at the graduate level, are very much professionally based,” Tran said. “More than half of the current online programs have all come up within the past year, so you can see how there has really been a concerted effort by the university to offer degree programs that are geared toward professional education.”
Tran said the university has utilized its online programs to form partnerships with corporations where employees can use the online programs to become better educated and to gain a professional education.
“This year we’re graduating our first group of Kuwait Oil Company engineers,” Tran said. “The neat thing about this is that USC was able to educate people living in a country that doesn’t currently offer a lot of online programs.”
Dani Haberman, a sophomore majoring in theatre, said increasing the amount of online courses offered in the university will be beneficial for students because it will facilitate students’ abilities to further develop their knowledge without affecting their schedules.
“I’ve had experience with online courses from a community college and I found that they were better for specific learning styles and made creating schedules easier,” Haberman said. “I don’t see a downside to this because it could also make it easier for students to access classes from a scheduling standpoint.”
Lauren Schlessinger, a graduate student studying education, said the online classes currently offered by USC are extremely informative and supportive. By adding classes, the university could educate a larger number of people, she said.
“The common [misconception] about online classes is that you take a class behind a computer without any help, but in my program, it feels like you’re actually in a classroom that has similar discussions to any non-online course,” Schlessinger said. “The student support [in online classes] is great, and I honestly don’t see any downside to expanding the current programs.”