by Becky Parton, dean of Academic Innovation and eLearning at Lincoln Land Community College
While Lincoln Land Community College recently celebrated its 50th anniversary as a college, another significant milestone anniversary is taking place this fall. This semester marks the 20th anniversary of online education at LLCC.
Lynn Pfannkuche, professor, English (Faculty Emeriti) taught LLCC’s first online course, Introduction to Composition, during the fall 1997 semester. What started as a single faculty member with an innovative idea, has grown into a robust program with offerings of nearly 500 online courses and over 90 faculty members teaching online each year.
LLCC will be celebrating this pioneering milestone started by Professor Pfannkuche throughout the week of Nov. 12 with a series of videos available on the LLCC Facebook page. On Tuesday, Nov. 14, at noon, there will be a formal celebration in A. Lincoln Commons on the LLCC Springfield campus.
Throughout the past 20 years, LLCC has developed a strong online education program based on the overall mission of the college. The mission of Lincoln Land Community College is to provide district residents with quality educational programs and services that are accessible, affordable and responsive to individual and community needs; and the online program at LLCC does just that. Online courses at LLCC provide many district residents with the opportunity to access higher education and to pursue their educational goals with the flexibility needed to fit their busy lives. LLCC Online has provided access to a quality college education for the past 20 years, reaching our students wherever they need to be.
Many busy adults would like to enter or reenter college, but have limits on their time and availability due to work, family and other responsibilities. Online education at LLCC provides our district residents with access to flexible and dynamic learning environments, while maintaining the high quality of instruction that LLCC is known for, and just as it was 20 years ago, LLCC’s online courses are taught by LLCC’s own faculty. They are local and accessible, part of the college community and focused on student success.
In addition to the accessibility to higher education provided by LLCC’s online education program, the commitment to affordable higher education opportunities is always present in all that we do at LLCC. While there are many online colleges advertising on television, radio and social media, LLCC’s online courses are significantly more affordable than many other online colleges. In addition, LLCC’s online students receive all of the benefits and advantages of attending their local community college with all of the support services provided to LLCC students.
The commitment to providing quality online education does not stop with offering individual courses. In 2008, LLCC became specifically accredited to offer online courses and was approved to offer a variety of degrees and certificates in an online environment by the Higher Learning Commission, LLCC’s accrediting body. Seeking this approval was in direct response to many students’ desire to complete their educational goals online. LLCC online students now have many options for degree or certificate completion. While many LLCC students choose to complete their education entirely online, others create customized schedules utilizing a mixture of both online and face-to-face courses. These face-to-face courses can be taken on our main campus in Springfield or at one of our outreach facilities located throughout the LLCC district.
From the beginning the online program at LLCC has experienced consistent annual growth and has had over 85,000 enrollments in online courses over the past 20 years. This past year, 36 percent of all LLCC students took at least one course online, and over 1,500 individual students took all of their courses online. This continual growth in online program enrollments and a significant number of students regularly attending LLCC entirely online demonstrates a continued interest in online education within our district and the confidence our students have in the quality of the online programs offerings and faculty.
A great deal has changed over the past 20 years regarding the technology used to deliver online instruction as well as the evolution of support tools and services provided to our online students. But within this innovative learning environment one thing has remained constant, and that is LLCC Online’s continual commitment to high quality teaching and learning in conjunction with the overall mission of LLCC.