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Distance Education | Board of Regents Annual Report 2011

Distance Education Distance Education

Iowa’s Public Universities shall increase distance education opportunities for lifelong learning especially for place-bound and non-traditional students in Iowa to support their educational and professional goals and enhance their quality of life


“The growing number of distance education courses offered by Iowa’s Public Universities, particularly in partnership with Iowa’s community colleges, provides increasing statewide access to a world-class education that is responsive to the educational, personal and professional goals of Iowa’s citizens.”

  • Regent Robert Downer

Iowa’s Public Universities are extending learning opportunities beyond their campuses to meet the educational needs of the state, the nation, and the world. In FY 2011, more than 27,000 students were enrolled in distance education credit courses at Iowa’s Public Universities, exceeding the universities’ targets by nearly 1,300 students.

Partnerships with Iowa’s community colleges are an important component of the universities’ distance education programs. These partnerships are critical mechanisms in reaching prospective transfer students by providing online classes that prepare them for degree completion at one of Iowa’s Public Universities.

Barb Camarillo, Sioux City, Iowa

After completing her associate’s degree, Barb Camarillo wished to pursue a University of Iowa bachelor’s degree program which she could complete from home in Sioux City. “I wanted a credible degree,” she says. “I knew that when prospective employers see the University of Iowa, it would stand for something.” For Camarillo, the UI’s Bachelor of Applied Studies fit the bill as it opened up new career options and provided a viable and credible alternative to other distance education programs.

  • The University of Iowa has developed partnership agreements with Southwest Iowa Community College in Creston, Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs, and with Southeastern Community College in Burlington to provide online degree programs.
  • The Iowa State University College of Engineering has been developing options for offering online introductory engineering courses to Iowa’s community college students.
  • The University of Northern Iowa, through its 2+2 Program offering UNI courses at Iowa’s community colleges, provides Elementary Education courses in cooperation with a number of Iowa community colleges.

Rachelle Ruhland, Ankeny, Iowa

After spending a few years as a preschool teacher in a childcare center, Rachelle Ruhland decided to pursue a B.A. degree in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa. “While I knew this endeavor would be tough to manage with a full-time job, the UNI 2+2 program allowed me to work full time during the day and take my UNI education courses in the evenings at DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College).”

“If UNI did not offer the 2+2 program through distance learning, I may have never had the opportunity to pursue my professional goal of obtaining an elementary education degree. The program allowed me to surround myself with some of the best educators in the field which made for an excellent educational experience.”


Beyond their work with Iowa’s community colleges, in FY 2011 Iowa’s Public Universities expanded their wide array of distance education programs for all Iowans.

  • The University of Iowa established a Bachelors of Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Management online program.
  • At Iowa State University, plant breeders from around the world can earn an advanced degree in their field through the new ISU distance learning Master of Science program. This online program was developed by ISU in consultation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and plant breeding companies.
  • The University of Northern Iowa offers one of the few online graduate programs in the country in the field of Philanthropy and Non-Profit Development.

Daniel Rinehart, Boone, Iowa

Daniel Rinehart earned a Master of Agriculture degree from Iowa State University via distance education. “You can do a lot of things with discipline and perseverance, couple those things with the flexibility that distance education brings to the table and you get a great opportunity to learn.”



Iowa’s Public Universities are committed to expanding their distance education courses and educational partnerships to address the needs of the state.

The University of Iowa will finalize agreements with all of Iowa’s 15 community colleges to allow individuals the opportunity to complete selected degree programs in the state’s community college service areas. The University also plans to initiate a community college STEM grant to encourage underrepresented community college students to attend the University, via distance learning, in STEM-related fields.

Iowa State University is making a major investment in course development and technology expansion for distance learning. This includes the upgrade of 18 classrooms, and creation of ten new professional development courses, five new distance education master’s programs, and additional corporate partnerships for online course access.

The University of Northern Iowa has launched online graduate programs in four areas of teacher education – Elementary Education, Professional Development for Teachers, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, and Teaching English in the Secondary Schools. The University’s additional efforts include outreach from its Center for Teaching and Learning Mathematics to provide professional development workshops for rural teachers, and a collaborative effort with the Waterloo Community Schools to design a model graduate program with an emphasis on Teacher Leadership.