Ten years ago, fewer than one in 10 University of Wisconsin-Parkside students took an online class. Today, more than half of Parkside students have taken at least one class online.
The shift to online course delivery and asynchronous classrooms has accelerated because of improvements in technology. UW-Parkside’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic included more than 1,600 course sections being moved online in less than two weeks so that students could complete the 2020 spring semester. Even before the pandemic, UW-Parkside saw significant growth in online degree program enrollment and in distance education thanks to attractive new online offerings and faculty and staff who have led the way in developing online course design and pedagogy techniques.
“The dramatic increase in student success at UW-Parkside is the result of dedicated strategic planning and the efforts of many UW-Parkside faculty and staff,” said Rob Ducoffe, provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs. “The needs of our students continue to evolve and we continue to adjust the programs and services we offer to serve more students and serve them well.”
Enrollment in distance education has increased dramatically over the past decade. The percentage of Parkside students taking at least one course online has risen from 8% in 2010 to approximately 60% in 2020. Additionally, in 2019, nearly a quarter of all UW-Parkside credits were earned through distance education, more than a ten-fold increase over the past decade. The university now offers a total of 14 degree programs delivered entirely online, including seven collaborative programs with other UW System schools.
The same trends can be found in graduate degree programs. There are eight fully online graduate programs available to students, five of which are UW System collaborative programs. Now, in 2020, 63% of graduate enrollment is online. The majority of the growth is in the new online MBA.
Alongside online enrollment growth, overall student retention and graduate rates have also improved. Prior to the fall 2010 first-time, full-time cohort, UW-Parkside had not had a retention rate above 70% since 1993. The fall 2018 cohort is now the seventh in a row with greater than 70% retention. The six-year graduation rate for the fall 2011 cohort was the highest in the university’s history at 34%. The last two cohorts have raised the bar thanks to initiatives like "15 to Finish" leading to faster credit accumulation. The 2013 six-year graduation rate topped 44% - a dramatic increase in just two years.