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IU Northwest revises educational leadership graduate program

The School of Education’s new hybrid program will combine online, face-to-face courses to better serve students

Thursday Jun 16, 2016

The School of Education at Indiana University Northwest recently announced a major revision to its graduate program in Educational Leadership. Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, the 33-credit-hour master’s degree program will be a hybrid of both online and traditional courses.

Charles Hobson, interim dean of the School of Education, said the program, that prepares educators for roles in administration and school leadership, was adapted to meet the demand of working educators who need more flexibility in their schedules in order to complete their degrees. Candidates for the degree will now complete six of the required courses entirely online. Of the remaining 15 credit hours that are required, six of those credit hours will be a combination of hybrid, face-to-face and online courses.

The Educational Leadership graduate program at IU Northwest has long been respected for its high percentage of graduates who pass the standardized exam and secure positions as school principals, according to the program’s coordinator, Vernon Smith.

Hobson said that even though degrees offered entirely online are a growing trend, students need to consider the pros and cons of both online and a traditional classroom education. A hybrid of both, Hobson said, is the best way to provide more flexibility while still maintaining the benefits of face-to-face instruction.

“Online courses may be more convenient for students,” Hobson said, “however in face-to-face classes, students have their classmates, learning centers on campus, professors' office hours, tutors, and teaching assistants to support and help them with their various learning needs. These resources guide them, clarify and reinforce the material, and allow them to succeed in their education.”

Smith said the committee revising the program thoroughly analyzed it and decided to offer online the courses that address the knowledge base of the program and to keep “face-to-face” the courses that focus on the technical skills of being an administrator, to provide students with the personal support they need to succeed.

“We are responding to the need for convenience, but we are not sacrificing the quality of our program,” Smith said. “Among many other benefits, traditional graduate courses allow for hands-on and skills-based instruction, as well as opportunities for students to lead presentations, which future educational leaders will be required to do.”

Smith added that the committee looked at fully online programs in Educational Leadership that were offered by other universities and considered their weaknesses.

“We wanted to create a strong program that fully supports our students in their development of these new professional skills,” Smith said. “We feel that a hybrid program is the best possible approach.”

During the most recent national evaluation of IU Northwest’s School of Education programs, the national review team called IU Northwest’s Educational Leadership program an “obvious strength of the unit” and noted that those connected with the program are “passionate about its usefulness, its rigor, the quality of instruction and the speed with which the unit hastened to incorporate constructive suggestions for enhancement.”

For more information about the Education Leadership program, contact the School of Education at (219) 980-6510.

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