PDK, PLT and FEA members are making a mark in education in a number of ways. We recently spoke with one of these “change agents”. Angela Walmsley is helping launch a satellite campus of Northeastern University (located in Seattle, Washington) that offers hybrid programs to higher education students.
PDK: You consider yourself, in many ways, a traditional academic. But you are helping facilitate courses for students that are anything but traditional—both in topic area and in course design.
Walmsley: Some of our degrees are traditional (like the Ed.D. or MBA), but a lot of our degrees are in subjects relatively new to our global society such as information assurance (cyber-security) and bioinformatics. Many of our courses are a blend of online instruction and face-to-face time with professors and instructors. This kind of hybrid schedule works for our students, who are all mostly working professionals. We are not a traditional day school.
PDK: What do think about the hybrid approach?
Walmsley: No matter whether people like it or not, this is where higher education is going. I would rather be at the forefront of this trend and making sure that it is done right, than to be left behind. One of the most important aspects of my job is ensuring that our rigorous programs meet the needs of the students and community, and that they challenge students in areas they want to be challenged. It’s a new way of doing graduate education; it’s not about how much time you are in your seat, it’s about proving competence in new areas.
PDK: Your satellite campus just opened in January (2013). That’s so recent!
Walmsley: In many ways I feel like I am working at a start-up company. I have had a chance to take on all kinds of roles. At first, I was more involved in recruiting students and now my role involves working closely with faculty and facilitating programs, as well as organizing student affairs. We are small but growing fast. We may well go from having 100 students this year to several hundred students next year.
PDK: Do you know whether your hybrid approach is working? Are your students experiencing success?
Walmsley: We know from research that graduate students prefer the hybrid model; but we don’t yet have the data from our own campus because we are just starting out. I can say that our students are telling me how much they are learning in their courses; how rigorous they are; and how much they are enjoying the program. And that is what keeps me excited about the work that I am doing; providing graduate students on-line and hybrid learning that is high quality, connected to our campus community, and designed to promote a working adult’s education and future goals.