Changes Coming For MN Colleges, Universities

Posted at: 11/20/2013 9:44 PM
Updated at: 11/20/2013 10:57 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- On Wednesday, the governing board for Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, or MnSCU, voted to adopt a series of recommendations aimed at improving the state's higher education system.

The recommendations focus on strengthening collaborations between schools and improving access for students.

But for Riverland Community College, improving access means reaching out to students with more online classes.

“That's the winds of change,” said Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, the school’s president. “People want the convenience and they want excellent high quality online instruction."

President Atewolugun said Riverland hopes to double its online course offerings in the next few years.

And while students say they appreciate the convenience, they also say the classes need to be structured in a way that gives them the same advantages as in-class learning.

“You want to ask questions, but you don't really get a good reply, a good answer,” said Ricardo Juarez, a student at Riverland. “But if you take the [on campus] class and you have questions, you can work in groups, ask people different opinions, give your opinions."

In response to some of those concerns, Riverland officials said they'll look to offer more blended classes that combine classroom and online learning to hopefully give students the best of both worlds.

The recommendations from MnSCU also call for more collaboration between schools, both financially and in academic programs.

Riverland currently partners with Winona State University to offer a degree in nursing, and officials said through bulk purchasing agreements they've already seen savings in some areas.

MnSCU and Riverland officials both said they also want to see more partnerships with local businesses to help students find work after they graduate while improving local economies.