SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) – At the most recent graduation ceremony, more than 4,000 Georgia Southern students received associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees, and some of these students have never been to one of the university’s three campuses.
Distance learning received a lot of attention during the pandemic, but Georgia Southern’s online degree program was already an increasingly popular option, offering students flexibility, convenience, and career opportunities — wherever they are.
“Being a busy doctor, caring for pandemic patients and having three young children of my own,” said Dr. Tim Connelly, internal medicine physician at Memorial Health.
dr Tim Connelly had enough challenges to add an MBA to his medical degree.
The way to the lesson did not have to be another.
“I had the flexibility to do the work however I wanted. But I could do it. The meetings were great and it worked really well.”
Connelly discovered virtual learning unintentionally – like most people did during the COVID-19 crisis. He entered the Georgia Southern Online Degree Program in 2020 — and it was the only way Memorial Health’s pandemic doctor could have graduated in the middle of a pandemic.
“Sometimes my best working time was 6 a.m.”
GSU’s online program enabled Annalee Ashley to complete her Masters when a job change forced her to leave the in-person program she had started at another school.
“My professor would post a lecture that I could then watch and I would then chat with my professor, who would post office hours and I would engage with them on a 1 to 1 basis or with a group . But I was able to get most of my workload done at a time that was convenient for me, and that’s what students are looking for,” said Annalee Ashley, Chief of Staff, Office of the GSU President.
Convenience was a necessity when Katie Powell decided to return to the school via GSU’s online degree program for a Master of Arts in Teaching.
“As a teacher and mom with kids in high school, I don’t have time to sit in a classroom from 9 a.m. to 4 a.m. I have other responsibilities. Being able to do this online allows me to pursue these things and educate myself. The flexibility as someone returning to school with different commitments and different responsibilities made it much more of an opportunity. It made it more practical,” said Katie Powell, director of special education at Island’s High School.
An estimated 92 million students worldwide are now studying online. The average age of these students is 32 years.
But Ashley also sees traditional students using distance learning.
The job she was relocating for was to become Chief of Staff in the Office of the President at Georgia Southern University. And she says the school, which offers dozens of study opportunities online, is a sign of a new era in higher education.
“The norm has totally changed in this regard and it’s just as valued as being in the classroom. It adds value to my degree when these incredible students come to Georgia Southern and I would recommend these programs to friends who are in Atlanta. who are in South Georgia who are out of state because they can watch this program. And it really opened the doors of access for a group of students who otherwise didn’t have it.”
like dr Connelly at the busiest time of his career.
“I gave 110% for my patients. But when I got home at the end of the day, with just a little bit left to devote to these studies, I finished this MBA. We had to take care of our community during this pandemic, we had to face the situation. So if I didn’t have the flexibility, if I didn’t have the tasks done every other week, if they got done every week, I wouldn’t be able to make that happen.”
“Virtual learning works really well for someone who can manage their time and make sure they get their work done because it fits into their life.”
And it is becoming more and more integrated into campus life – on-campus and off-campus.
“It’s an absolute necessity and complements the free programming we’re able to offer here at Georgia Southern.”
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