Outlook: Ohio University News & Information

Monday, June 1, 2015
OHIO launches online graduate program
Master of Health Administration degree offered  

Jan 15, 2009  
By Linda Lockhart  

People come to Athens from across the country to attend Ohio University. Thanks to the Internet, some now can choose to stay at home for their studies. Or at work.

Last week, the university launched its first fully online graduate program, the Master of Health Administration. The online version of the College of Health and Human Services program is expected to serve a growing population of learners who are engaged in professional careers or other life obligations and cannot take one or more years off to advance their education.

"Most of the online MHA students would be unlikely to attend face-to-face classes," said RuthAnn Althaus, who spearheaded development of the online MHA program. "Their lack of geographic proximity to an appropriate program, the demands of their busy lives and the impracticality of leaving their full-time employment to attend school would rule out their ability to advanced education in a traditional face-to-face program."

The first group of 10 students includes a community hospital CEO, a nursing home administrator, the chief clinical executive for an organ donor organization and a health system chief operating officer.

Another 15-25 students are expected to begin in March, which highlights yet one more difference in the online program -- students can enter in any of the fours quarters. Although the online version of the MHA requires the same number of credit hours and courses as the existing on-campus MHA, content has been redesigned to take advantage of the online environment and to accommodate the audience's learning style.

For example, courses have been bundled into eight modules, with one model every 10-week term.

"Learning objectives in the online program have been designed to tap heavily into what these mid-career students already know and can build upon in classes," Althaus explained. "Adult students learn best when they gain knowledge through exploration and active learning.

"In this program, students construct the necessary knowledge rather than having it given to them," she added, saying the program replicates the social and iterative learning that occurs in organizations.

The move helps the College of Health and Human Services broaden its reach into the steadily growing field of health care, which now employs 12 percent of the total U.S. workforce, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

To reach its audience, the university has been working with Embanet, a partner experienced in formatting and marketing online programs.

"Working with Embanet has helped us to develop and launch the online MHA more quickly than we could have using only our in-house resources," said Masha Ham, executive director of Lifelong and Distance Learning. "They bring a level of technical expertise and access to marketing channels that is their business. And they are helping us to provide a student experience with 24/7 support that is needed for and expected by adult learner."

The partnership has allowed faculty to concentrate on developing the courses and interacting with students.

"Embanet has helped us to put the modules online in a very sophisticated way ? providing technological and pedagogical help so that we can take advantage of the wonderful options available to those teaching online," Althaus said.

The online MHA students will have one special opportunity to come to campus.

"They can complete all of the learning activity from their home location," Ham said, "but they are definitely invited to graduation if they want to come to campus."



Related Links
Master of Health Administration online program:  http://www.ohiouonlinemha.info/index.asp 
Seventh community college partner signs on:  http://www.ohio.edu/outlook/08-09/October/140.cfm  
College of Health and Human Services:  http://www.hhs.ohiou.edu/chhs/  

Published: Jan 15, 2009 11:30 AM  

More online offerings planned 

As interest in online education grows, Ohio University is planning several initiatives to bolster its presence in that arena.

In addition to its new online MHA program and a bachelor's degree completion program that was launched fall quarter, development is under way on at least two other online programs and increased summer sessions class offerings.

Online offerings enhance the university's ability to meet its mission by providing high-quality education to a wider audience, while also generating new revenues without increasing overhead costs associated with bricks and mortar. Careful planning and course development remains, though.

"It takes some effort to build an online program that meets the high standards of quality we hold here at Ohio University," said Marsha Ham, executive director of Lifelong and Distance Learning. "However, if we are to stand out among our peer providers of online education, we must develop a system that provides not only a strong educational foundation, but exemplary student services and a premiere student experience," she added.

Over the years university processes have been created and honed to serve students who are on campus and those same processes don't always translate well to serving a fully online population, Ham explained.

"It's truly been a team effort to put together a set of processes that provides the level of customer service that will meet the needs and expectations of online students. The offices of the bursar, registrar, financial aid, undergraduate and graduate admission, information technology and everyone in University Outreach and Lifelong and Distance Learning have really stepped up to the challenge,"  Ham said.

"It seems we've worked at lightning speed over the past year to put an operational solution in place that facilitates the university's growth into the online sector."



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