As the university student demographic changes, so does the method of learning.
More and more people are turning to open learning education to take advantage of the flexibility it offers, according to Gordon Tarzwell, vice-provost of Thompson Rivers University Open Learning.
Since May 2012, TRU-OL has recorded a seven per cent growth in enrolments within B.C. and a 15 per cent growth in Canadian students outside B.C.
“There’s a lot more students working part-time while going to school and more people are going back to school while working full-time, and that results in a desire for them to have a more flexible schedule, therefore distance works better for them,” said Tarzwell.
He also attributed the rise in student numbers to TRU’s increasing reputation and profile.
“We see this outside B.C. growth as a positive indication of the growing national reputation of TRU.”
TRU-OL offers more than 55 programs and 590 courses in a variety of flexible formats, including print-based, web-based, online and in-person. Open education also means students can begin a course or program whenever he or she likes — there is no need to wait for a particular semester to begin.
Another increasingly popular method of learning blends in class courses with distance education.
That’s the way of the future, according to Dustin McIntyre, TRU student union president.
“It’s a valuable part of our community and blended learning is a positive thing on our campus. It gives students the flexibility to study when they need to. And nothing can replace a teacher lecture.”
That positive experience means blended learning opportunities will only increase every year, said Tarzwell.
The most recent announcements include flexible master’s degree opportunities.
TRU students entering the Masters of Business Administration program in September will have the opportunity to complete some or all of their MBA at a distance.
And planning has begun to develop distance versions for courses in the Masters of Education program.