CSU, Chico News

U.S. News & World Report Ranks CSU, Chico High in Survey for Online Instruction

Date: 01-24-2012

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico ranked high in faculty credentials and training in U.S. News & World Report’s assessment of online programs. The magazine ranked national private and public universities that responded to surveys in three areas: Faculty Credentials and Training, Student Services and Technology and Student Engagement and Assessment.

U.S. News queried 1,765 colleges and universities that grant bachelor’s degrees about online instruction and received survey responses from 969 institutions. One hundred ninety-four schools, including CSU, Chico, reported offering online BA programs. CSU, Chico placed 14th among 55 colleges and universities U.S. News chose to rank in 2012 for excellence in faculty credentials and training.

“While earning an bachelor's degree online, students respond best to faculty with both traditional academic credentials and experience and training in teaching online courses,” U.S. News wrote in introducing the rankings. “These are the top online bachelor's programs for faculty credentials and training.”

The U.S. News rankings can be found at http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education.

“Chico State was the leader in the distance education field for a very long time before the Internet was a viable option,” said Kathy Fernandes, director, Academic Technologies, CSU, Chico. “Our current Internet implementation of online education uses a learning management system and virtual classroom software and provides faculty with special mediated rooms. Instruction originates with faculty in those rooms with both live and online students together. The model is unique to Chico. We have been using it since 1999.”

“Our long history in distance education helped us achieve a high ranking in the faculty credentials and experience area,” said Jeff Layne, director, Distance Education, CSU, Chico. “For example, of the 42 faculty teaching in the Chico Distance & Online Education program in fall 2010 and spring 2011, 18 had more than six years of teaching online.”

U.S. News said in their online announcement that they undertook the survey of online education programs because it is fast becoming integral to higher education. Readers want such information as they investigate hundreds of such programs. “With our first annual ranking of the Top Online Education Programs for higher education, we're giving consumers a clearer picture of the scope and quality of this important education sector.”

The magazine reported that it applied some of the same standards they use for traditional brick-and-mortar schools, in addition to new measures they've developed in consultation with education experts. They attempted to make the best apples-to-apples comparisons that the data will allow. “As we’ve done with colleges for more than 25 years, we want to match similar institutions on their own terms,” wrote Eric Brooks, U.S. News, about the methodology used in the survey.

The magazine asked for data on thousands of programs and, according to their website, “got widespread, but not total, cooperation.” To make U.S. News's honor roll of top online bachelor's degree programs, a school needed to place in the top third of ranked schools in all three of these modules.