Minnesota, Crookston faculty recognize online graduates face-to-face
CROOKSTON -- Melissa Ball-Warriner set foot on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus for the first time Friday. She graduated with a bachelor's degree the next day. UMC hosted an open house for its online students Friday. The open house ga...
CROOKSTON -- Melissa Ball-Warriner set foot on the University of Minnesota-Crookston campus for the first time Friday.
She graduated with a bachelor's degree the next day.
UMC hosted an open house for its online students Friday. The open house gave students the chance to meet their professors and advisers in person.
"Melissa is a rare case, having graduated in just two years," said Sharon Stewart, Ball-Warriner's adviser. "She's pretty special."
Ball-Warriner is one of more than 100 online students the university graduated in the 2012-2013 academic year. Thirty of those online students were expected to travel to UMC -- many for the first time -- to participate in the school's spring commencement ceremony.
"The campus is a lot bigger than I expected," said Ball-Warriner, an applied studies major from Paynesville, Minn., approximately 30 miles southwest of St. Cloud. "I figured I better come out here at least once as a student."
Ball-Warriner hopes her new degree will help start a career in human resources, a job she is familiar with from her time in the Army.
The online program has seen its numbers rise since its inception; the 135 graduates this academic year is up from 94 in the 2011-2012 academic year.
There was a lot of pushback in the beginning of the online education program from people within the University of Minnesota system, said Christo Robberts, director of the bachelor of manufacturing management degree program. "Then we started saying, 'well, maybe this is the future of education.'"
Denis Maier, a business management professor who serves on online education committees for UMC, said the challenge is not just offering education to those online, but also creating an equal learning for online students and students in the classroom.
"I can walk the class through an example three times in a classroom until every student in the room understands," he said. "But how do we bring that to students online? That is the question."
Ball-Warriner said her schoolwork gave her practical exercises similar to what a student would get in a classroom, but taking her classes online meant she had to go out into the community to finish them.
"One of the classes required me to go out and interview different people," she said. "Now, I walk around town and people wave at me because they remember me. It's pretty cool."
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