Texas Tech has been doing distance learning since the mid 1960s. Not like it’s done now of course. These days it happens online and at various sites outside of Lubbock. And there are courses that people over 50 can take so that learning continues.
Justin Louder, the associate vice provost of eLearning, says Texas Tech began distance learning programs more than 50 years ago. And the method was unusual.
“Four faculty flew around Texas in a Cessna delivering the master’s in engineering. So that was Texas Tech’s first distance education program—flying professors,” Louder explains.
In the early 90s, the method by which people could learn outside of the classroom was via VHS tapes. Much has changed since then. Now the eLearning program includes Worldwide eLearning, online and regional site programs the K-12 Independent School District, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and academic partnerships with community colleges.
Louder says there is a strategic goal and progress is being made.
“If you think about online education, there is no limit on where a student could be,” he says.
According to him they decided on the title, “Worldwide eLearning,” to expand the University’s enrollments beyond Texas and United States. And they succeeded. He reported that they’ve had students from countries around the world including, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and many others.
Louder says the eLearning division has grown significantly in the past five years or so.
“Part of that is because students today with work responsibilities and family responsibilities, it’s hard for them to sit in a classroom full time. So we have seen a growth in the online enrollments, not only in true distance students, but Lubbock based students,” he says.
And it’s not just undergraduate classes that are available to students. There are online courses whereby students can earn their masters’ and doctoral degrees. The division offers educational solutions at a Tier One university that are flexible, affordable, and attainable.
“Programmatically we’ve got over a hundred online, or distance programs. One of the great things is that Tech offers more online or hybrid doctoral degrees than any other school in the state of Texas and that shows Tech’s commitment to online education,” he explained.
Whether young or old, the eLearning division at Texas Tech has something for everyone. And Louder says those who enroll are counted as Texas Tech students.
“One thing we really push is making sure they have that connections and feel like they are still a part of this campus.”