5 Top Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs and What Makes Them Successful

by Janis Beem on October 8, 2013

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Top notch technology and professional development are some of the key elements in thriving online programs

U.S. News & World Report released their report of the top online bachelor’s degree programs, and we have the scoop on the role technology plays, along with other factors, in making 5 of them successful. Take a look under the hood at some of the top online bachelor’s degree programs in the U.S. and learn more about what brings in high rankings for student engagement, faculty training and more.

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Lawrence Technological University

  • Rank: #6
  • Total enrollment: 50
  • Top ranking: Student Engagement

This online school has a low enrollment and boasts U.S. News’ top spot for student engagement. Students learn on Blackboard version 9.1, and all instructors receive a university-issued laptop or tablet equipped with about $13,000 of industry-grade design and graphics software, pedagogical tools, and lecture capture tools. The school uses Panopto for higher-end laptop and classroom lecture capture and Blackboard Collaborate (Wimba) for lower-end capture. Both are integrated directly with Blackboard for instant uploading after capture. Students learn together with Blackboard Collaborate (Wimba) and Google Hangouts, plagiarism is detected with SafeAssign, integrated with Blackboard, and the school makes full use of the Google Apps for Education suite. Best of all, the school library has over 100,000 digital journal titles in business, sciences, humanities, engineering, architecture and design.

Colorado State University – Global Campus

  • Rank: #7
  • Total enrollment: 3,624
  • Top ranking: Faculty Credentials & Training

Staff and faculty at CSU take pride in developing new solutions to meet market and university needs. The university utilizes metrics on student learning progress and outcomes achievement as well as course satisfaction, retention and time-to-degree-completion to design and customize the learning experience. Students benefit from the university’s comprehensive online portal that stores their schedules, calendars, news, email and other information. Through the school’s advanced tech-based framework, CSU-Global drives transparency, accountability to learning, and its commitment to a credible and valuable educational experience for adult and nontraditional learners. U.S. News ranks it high on faculty credentials, a bonus that goes beyond tech.

Bellevue University

  • Rank: #9
  • Total enrollment: 6,190
  • Top ranking: Student Engagement

Bellevue University has launched a new mobile learning program reaching beyond online learning in terms of flexibility and cost. The real success of the school is due to high level of student engagement and excellent teaching practices. “This goes beyond technology and more into how we build the curriculum and prepare our faculty to engage online students,” says Jim Maxwell, an associate director of public relations at the school. “Technology certainly plays a role but there are many factors that play into that ranking.” The school also ranks high on faculty credentials and training, and features a rolling application deadline, adding a level of flexibility to the process of getting back to school.

University of Bridgeport

  • Rank: #12
  • Total enrollment: Not supplied
  • Top ranking: Student Engagement

The University of Bridgeport uses open-source LMS Canvas, as do many other prestigious programs, but claims that what sets the school apart is that online classes are taught by full-time faculty holding Ph.D.s. “That sets us apart from many other universities, where online teaching is conducted by part timers who don’t have these degrees,” says Leslie Geary, director of public information and media relations at the school. “Our faculty maintains close ties with online students, so it’s a very personalized program, too.” The school’s top ranking in student engagement supports this theory.

Penn State University Online

  • Rank: #16
  • Total enrollment: 3,230
  • Top ranking: Student Services & Technology

Pedagogy and rich media resources defines the PSU online campus. Key to this approach has been the separation of the content from the learning management system (LMS). The school boasts an elaborate content management system (CMS), custom style sheets and a consistent navigation. The courses served up through CMS have multiple links back to the LMS to key features like communications, discussion forum, quizzing, grading and more. Additionally, the CMS is also closely linked to the school’s media server from which audio, video and animations are delivered to students in one handy package. Third-party tools include YouSeeU, Blackboard Collaborate and PBWorks.

As you can see from the above, technology is just one part of what makes for a successful online college. Faculty training and student engagement can make the difference between a school with successful students and one simply offering the latest and greatest LMS. Content and support combine to create an excellent experience in online education, as the top schools prove.

*Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
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The 10 Most Important Emerging Instructional and Education Technologies and Concepts (2013 Update)
Instructional Technologies CAN Improve Learning Outcomes and Help Address the Challenges Education Faces

About 

Janis Beem is a freelance writer in Austin, TX. She contributes to several print and online publications, including OnlineSchools.com.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alson Miller October 18, 2013 at 5:25 am

I heard very well about these best universities which provide the best online degree programs. These are really the best choices for online education.

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