High-Tech By Necessity
In an effort to reach out to students who were forced out of Louisiana by Hurricane Katrina, Delgado Community College, Dillard University and Southern University at New Orleans are beefing up their online courses.
SUNO Chancellor Victor Ukpolo says his campus was almost totally destroyed by Katrina’s floodwaters, but received trailers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish a temporary campus.
According to Ukpolo, SUNO has also arranged to have several entire bachelor’s degree programs placed online to help those students
who are having trouble returning to New Orleans because of the housing shortage.
“We were offering some classes online before Katrina, but we had so many students impacted by the storm that we had to come up with creative ways to reach them,” he says. “It’s only since Katrina that we started offering entire degree programs online.”
SUNO plans to offer online bachelor’s degrees in fields such as general studies, criminal justice and early childhood education, as well as an online master’s degree in museum studies. More programs are in the works, Ukpolo says.
Delgado Community College Chancellor Alex Johnson says that prior to Katrina, only about 10 percent of DCC’s students chose the online option.
Johnson says the college has received a boost from federal and state programs that have provided funding for three programs designed to fill post-Katrina work force shortages — construction arts, allied health and shipbuilding.
But Johnson says Delgado is also expanding its offerings in a number of technical and scientific fields.
“Before Katrina, New Orleans’ work force centered primarily around the service industry,” he says. “Now, we’re seeing new jobs in emerging fields that deal with technology and microtechnology.”
Dillard University President Marvalene Hughes says she’s also expanding her school’s online offerings.
“We weren’t prepared for the students to be out for an entire semester. I don’t think it had happened ever before,” she says.
– Scott Dyer
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