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Ferrum News

Virginia College Fund Receives Grant to Expand On-Line Learning

6/18/2009



 The Virginia College Fund (VCF) has been awarded a $45,000 grant by the Verizon Foundation for a program to train faculty members from the five VCF schools to develop online courses based on existing classroom courses. The online courses will be available later this fall and will help VCF colleges meet the rapidly shifting needs and demands of its students.

The training program is being developed by Dr. Christine Stinson, Chief Information Officer and Dean of Learning Management at Ferrum College, one of the five VCF member institutions, and will be taught through the Ferrum College Learning Management System. The two part program will consist of an online course followed by an intensive, week-long workshop on the Ferrum College campus. Selected faculty members from the VCF schools will not only experience how teaching and learning happens in an exclusively online environment, but will also learn what their prospective students will experience. “An increasing number of both traditional students and older adult learners want to take some or all of their classes online. Although faculty are accomplished educators in the classroom, fewer of them have the training or experience that will let them transfer their instructional skills to on-line learning,” explains Stinson. “We need to offer focused training and faculty development to enable our motivated faculty to develop online courses based on the classroom-based courses they already teach. This will be accomplished by showing them how teaching and learning happens in an exclusively online environment and training them in what new learning is possible.” Stinson also notes that, “Although many students are capable and ready for learning in classes that are taught exclusively online, many faculty are not yet trained or comfortable teaching exclusively online classes.”

Dr. William Pearson, President of the VCF, says, “The Virginia College Fund and its member independent colleges hold as a core value the belief that no student should be denied the opportunity to succeed. During the past three years, approximately 5,500 needy students at our member institutions have received the financial aid necessary to complete their undergraduate degrees. With this grant, and additional past funding from the Verizon Foundation, many of our faculty members and hundreds of our students have been and will continue to be impacted by increased on-line course instruction.”

Steve Clementi, Verizon Director of External Affairs, says, "Our partnership with the Virginia College Fund has been a long,?successful one. Our investment through the Verizon Foundation with?the five member colleges has provided much needed technology, training and?other resources that have benefitted both students and teachers."

In addition to Ferrum College, the other Virginia College Fund members are: Averett University, Bluefield College, Eastern Mennonite University, and Virginia Intermont College. All are private, degree granting, liberal arts and comprehensive colleges and all are fully accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

For more information about the program, contact Dr. Christine Stinson at cstinson@ferrum.edu or (540) 365-4311.

Ferrum College is a four-year, private, co-educational, liberal arts college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Ferrum offers a choice of nationally recognized bachelor's degree programs at a cost well below the national average for private colleges.