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A History of UW-Superior's Online Learning

What began as correspondence education in the early 1990s, the University of Wisconsin-Superior transformed distance learning making their online education programs one of the best according to a 2019 ranking from the U.S. News & World Report.

A 1995 September edition of the Promethean newspaper states that UW-Superior’s Interactive Distance Education program used fiber optic technology to broadcast a professor’s lecture around the state of Wisconsin. The instructors communicated live with their students in designated classrooms equipped with two-way video and audio signals. The U.S. Postal service delivered the paper handouts while the instructors faxed the quizzes. “There is more paperwork for the professor involved, in that course material and confidential papers must be mailed,” said Ken Redding, a graduate student instructor, from a February 1997 Promethean.

According to a power point presentation created by the former UWS Marketing Specialist, Mary Zimmerman, with the introduction of the World Wide Web, UWS began to experiment with internet courses in 1995. UWS launched the Individually Designed Major via Desire to Learn (D2L) as the first fully online program in 1999 and added the Elementary Education major shortly after. “For some people, going to class at a campus just wasn’t an option, but we still want to give them access to higher ed,” explained Christina Kline, the current UWS Interim Director of Online Learning. Today, students no longer have to receive instruction in real-time or travel to specific locations with the adequate technology.

Mary Zimmerman’s power point reports that after the success of the two previous majors, UWS included an online Communicating Arts degree in 2006. A UWS campus news article from 2013 reported, “From 2009-2013, three additional bachelor’s degrees - Sustainable Management, Health and Wellness Management, and Exercise Science - and a master’s in Sustainable Management were introduced.” As of 2019, UWS offers ten undergraduate and seven graduate degrees online. “The administration seems keen on more mater degree programs while continuing to improve the quality of courses we already have online,” said Kline. The Online Learning Interim Director says UWS will offer an online master’s degree in IT Management beginning the fall of 2019, and the college hopes to introduce a Cybersecurity master’s program online in the fall of 2020.

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