Published February 28, 2019
During their regularly scheduled meeting Wednesday, the Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees voted to reaffirm the college’s partnership and agreements with EDUKAN.
EDUKAN is a consortium of four Kansas community colleges, started in 1998 to deliver accredited, transferable online course offerings to students from any of the member institutions. The consortium consisted originally of six schools, but Colby and Garden City recently pulled out of the group, so EDUKAN leaders asked DCCC trustees to reaffirm the school’s commitment to the group
Participation in EDUKAN costs each school approximately $25,000 per year, and board chairman Gary Harshberger said he was told that the cost per school was not expected to increase despite two fewer schools contributing to the pool.
EDUKAN is not a stand-alone institution, but is instead a cooperative effort between member schools to make a diverse array of online courses available for their students from a centralized platform.
Reaffirming the partnership means the college will be able to continue offering affordable, accessible online courses which may otherwise not be offered on campus. Some courses may fall into a fairly specialized niche, so enrollment may be limited to only a small number of students from each institution. This would be cost-prohibitive for most schools, but through the EDUKAN consortium, Dodge City Community College can still serve the needs of students without negatively impacting the bottom line.
Nolte advocated for DCCC to develop a strong presence in online education, acknowledging that more and more students are opting for a blended approach – enrolling in a mix of online and onsite classes, and taking advantage of hybrid courses that require most of the work to be done online, but still include an in-person portion for more hands-on access to instructors.
According to Nolte, Seward County and Pratt Community College online numbers are nearly double the DCCC online enrollment. He postulated that Colby’s nine percent enrollment increase was driven primarily through its in-house online programs.
“Students are digital,” Nolte said. “Things are changing quickly. We’re no longer using a lot of things we used to in education. Many schools have seen significant increases by growing their online programs. Online is a dynamic way of delivering education and that’s what students are looking for.”
Trustee Kathy Ramsour emphasized advancing DC3’s online program, noting its accessibility for non-traditional students.
“As a former educator, a lot of my parents would not have gone to college were it not for an online program,” she said.
Harshberger asserted that an improved online presence is a pragmatic goal for the college.
“We have a real opportunity. We’re in the business of education, so we need to be receptive to our potential student,” Harshberger said, noting that could mean additional online and hybrid offerings, evening classes, and even reaching into area high schools.
By Scott Edger