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University of Nebraska Celebrates 100 Years of Distance Learning

In 1909 during the era of "correspondence schooling," the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL) launched its first distance learning effort with some residents in the western reaches of the state. It would have taken a student from that area days to reach the campus on horseback. One hundred years later, students in Saudi Arabia can - and do - click to the Extended Education and Outreach web site in a matter of seconds.

Recruiting coordinator Laura Wiese explained that the University's availability to the state's vast rural regions adopted new technology as it developed. With the advent of the telephone came telephone-intensive courses. When television appeared on the scene, the University provided video broadcast. Today with the Web further simplifying connections, UNL offers 26 online degrees and 499 courses the same course material and the same degree that's available on campus.

At the UNL Extension, graduate level the Journalism School offers a Master's in Journalism and Mass Communications, with a course load that takes a thorough approach to the multimedia element essential to journalism today. The School of Education has programs for both a special education degree and for child development.

The College of Business Administration offers an MBA program with several specialization options. At the undergraduate level the principal options are for degree completion programs, although there appears to be just a single option for a bachelor's degree. A student must have 64 transferable credit hours or an associate's degree, which can be applied towards a bachelor's degree in applied science. This course of study according to the school prepares a graduate for the "application of science in society." It appears to be a hybrid of natural sciences, mathematics and liberal arts courses.

The University of Nebraska appears to be approaching the notion of undergraduate studies with caution, for fear of sullying the school's "brand," the current term in education circles for academic respect. Their approach to graduate programs is much more open, with participation from several of the liberal arts colleges, the agriculture programs - still important in Nebraska - and the business school. One hundred years of distance learning has brought the school about 90% of the distance to full online education options.

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