Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Odd scholarships for enterprising students

Whether you’re a fan of potatoes or duct tape, of the NRA or Star Fleet, there may be a scholarship out there for you. But be wary. There’s no guarantee that every one of these 45 unusual scholarships is legitimate. And before you rush out and buy a llama, think about the mainstream financial aid options:
  • ASWSU scholarship. The deadline to apply for a $1,000 summer scholarship is March 15. Go to the Web site for more information and an application.
  • Summer financial aid. The priority date for WSU summer financial aid applications is Feb. 15. The application is now available online.

    Book buyback. The Bookie, Too recommends students sending books back for repurchase call first to see if the books are still at retail (higher) levels. Many books have reached the retail levels and are now at wholesale (lower) levels for buyback. Please call Rick at 509-334-3661 to check the buyback values prior to shipping.
  • Monday, December 21, 2009

    OMBA Webinars

    If you're thinking of earning an MBA online, you can get your questions answered at one of our Webinars. The next one is Tuesday, Dec. 29. The presentations will be led by Program Representative Rich Miller, right. To find one that suits your schedule, go to the Web page, and select the link. There's no preregistration requirement and no special software is needed.

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    DDP grad makes spectacular comeback

          In 1974, Debby Poris left Washington State University after two semesters. More than 30 years later, she came back. This time she was unstoppable. After enrolling in WSU’s online degree program, she became student body president, and won both regional and national awards as an outstanding non-traditional student.
          In December, she capped her academic career when she stood in front of the crowd at commencement ceremonies in Beasley Coliseum and was honored as a highlight student. (View it at 41:17 of the 2009 Fall Commencement video.)
          “This is the exclamation point for an incredible journey of learning, growing, building friendships, and reaching dreams,” said Debby, who lives in Lynnwood, Washington. “Now it is time to set new dreams and goals – to make a difference because I can.”
          Debby’s determination dates to her childhood when she wore a back brace for scoliosis. More... “I was out to prove to everyone I was not ‘handicapped,’” she said. “I snow-skied, played basketball, tennis and volleyball in my brace.”
          Debby’s sister, Sandi Dugan of Hawaii, confirmed that Debby has long been a force to be reckoned with. “She’s the oldest and she has always bossed us around,” she said during a graduation reception at the WSU Alumni Center. “She’s like a dog with a bone. Once she gets hold of it, she doesn’t let go. She always tries her best.”
          Kathy Santaniello, Debby’s youngest sister, came from Arizona for commencement. “When Debby makes up her mind, she goes after it with blinders on, straight to the finish,” she said. “She’ll take on a task and make sure it gets done.”
          Debby, 54, earned her WSU degree in business after getting a transfer degree from Bellevue Community College. She works full time as a fiscal analyst for the state Housing Finance Commission, and maintained a 3.97 grade-point average.
          Carl Poris praised his wife’s tenacity. “It took her 30 years to make the decision, but once she did, there was no turning back,” he said.
          Debby’s son, Mark Raysbrook, said he served as a bit of a role model for his mother. Raysbrook graduated from WSU’s online program in 2006 with a business degree. “Once she saw that I was able to do it, she jumped on the bandwagon,” he said.
          Debby may be out of college, but she’s still on the bandwagon. “I am a bit crazy when it comes to WSU,” she said. She’s already agreed to help the Snohomish County alumni group, and will continue attending DDP events that welcome alumni, such as the Gridiron Classic, Tacoma Rendezvous and next Tuesday's Hardwood Classic.
          “If it had not been for WSU, I would still be regretting not having an education. I just want to give something back, to say thank you.”

    Monday, December 14, 2009

    Scholarship rules eased for summer

    You may have heard that the ASWSU-DDP recently approved five $1,000 scholarships for summer semester. Here's more good news: To be eligible, you need to take only three credits, instead of the usual six.

    Because summer is an accelerated semester, many students take only three credits, which prevents them from receiving other types of financial aid (except Pell grants, if the Estimated Family Contribution is low enough).

    The deadline to apply for a summer scholarship is March 15. Go to the Web site for more information and an application.

    Apply now for summer financial aid: The priority date for WSU summer financial aid applications is Feb. 15. The application is now available online.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    New course offers chance at cash prizes

    A new online course this spring gives Washington State University business students a chance to compete for $100,000 in prizes. But first they have to endure the “Hot Seat.”
    Entrepreneurship 486, Topics in New Venture Planning, assembles students in teams to prepare and present a business plan. They find an industry mentor and present sections of their plan to an entrepreneurial group in their community. Then comes the “Hot Seat Session,” where they present the entire plan to the group, and get grilled about the details.
    “We are a little brutal in that session because if we aren’t, they won’t be prepared to face real questions from real investors,” said instructor Debra McCarver. “This is usually the point at which the plans go from being academic exercises to real business plans.”
    If students survive the hot seat with their bottom line intact, an even hotter seat awaits. More...They can present their plan to venture capitalists, bankers and industry experts during the annual WSU Business Plan Competition, organized by the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. While distance students don’t have to come to campus, “with that kind of money, experience, and contacts, they’d be crazy not to,” McCarver said. “But I will accept a substitute if necessary.”
    In 2009, one of McCarver’s teams won first place for creating a bring-your-own-cup vending machine called Ecowell. The team was awarded $14,000 and each member was given an iPhone. Ecowell is being test-marketed in a Pullman school. “I guess it’s been quite a hit,” McCarver said. Other business plans have included a Pullman laundry service, and a West Side gondola company.
    Rebecca Van de Vord, a Distance Degree Programs instructional designer, said the challenge of finding off-campus business groups means that students will be making business connections in their own communities. Distance students will also benefit from the College of Business’s decision to contact DDP early about creating the course: “With that great head start,” she said, “we were able to videotape guest speakers in the on-campus course and post them for online students.”
    McCarver praised Van de Vord for re-creating the entrepreneurship course online. “She has put up with lots of changes and there are more to come,” McCarver said. “She’s pretty awesome.”
    Before becoming an online instructor, McCarver taught at WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, where she worked with engineers, scientist and business students to prototype products and create business plans. She is also the faculty advisor for the WSU chapter of Students in Free Enterprise, an international nonprofit organization that develops community outreach projects.
    McCarver has a bachelor’s in business administration from Walla Walla University, and an MBA from Northwest Nazarene University. She is married to Dave McCarver, an engineer for Schweitzer Engineering Labs. They have a 1-year-old daughter, Reagan, and live in Nampa, Idaho.
    By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Course brings light, generates heat

    Physics and Society offers
    science fundamentals
    for non-science majors

    Dr. Richard Kouzes designed his first online physics course to explore how physics interacts with society, energy, communications, war, and art. As the first semester of Physics and Society drew to a close this week, the Washington State University course had become a catalyst for another kind of volatile interaction:
          “Students type stuff,” Kouzes said with a smile. “They are typing along and they say stuff they wouldn’t say in a classroom. Some have very strong opinions, including political opinions.”
          The privacy of the Internet – which shields students from a professorial harrumph – is one factor. Online students also tend to be older, with a variety of backgrounds and opinions, said Kouzes, an adjunct professor at WSU since 2001. “You reach a diverse set of students online.”
          When discussions become digressions, Kouzes intervenes just enough to make sure students have the facts straight. “I’d like to argue with them sometimes, but my role isn’t to get into opinions.”
          But it’s not only cantankerous students who stir things up, said Ami Brodak, 35, who took the course through WSU’s Distance Degree Programs. “Kouzes brings up these really controversial topics,” she pointed out. “Evolution, population control, how the U.S. uses energy: all of these have incited strong opinions, at least for me.” More...
          Kouzes may be an instigator, Brodak said, but he’s a respectful one. “He never clobbered us for having a differing viewpoint from what he’s teaching,” she said. “That stimulated a free flow of ideas. I feel like I’ve learned from other viewpoints, and also been able to shed some light on topics.”
          Physics 380 is designed to be free-flowing, with topics ranging from atoms to artwork, from Newton’s laws to nuclear power. “It’s been incredibly enlightening, especially for someone who was very intimidated by the sciences,” said Brodak, a history major who lives in Olympia, Wash.
          The course’s lack of science prerequisites make it well suited for non-science majors who need science credits. That doesn’t mean a hard-core physics aficionado can stump the professor.
          Kouzes earned his master’s and doctorate in physics from Princeton University. He is a laboratory fellow at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, and works in the areas of neutrino science, homeland security, radioactive material interdiction, non-proliferation, and computational applications.
          Kouzes lives in Richland and teaches at the Tri-Cities campus. He stopped by DDP to discuss his online course when he was in Pullman to present a colloquium, Detection of Nuclear Threats at Borders. Kouzes is comfortable teaching both fundamental and advanced physics. “You adapt to whatever audience you have,” he said.
          Kouzes is adapting to the online audience by increasing the credit for discussions next semester. “Each week I pose a set of discussion questions, but I say you can talk about anything else. A number of students did their own research – searching out information on recycling fluorescent lights, for example. They put it all into their discussions, so it deserves more credit.”
          By the end of the course, Brodak was no longer “very intimidated by the sciences” – or by the professor.
          “I often disagreed with his contentions,” she said, “yet I totally loved the class. I learned more than I think I ever have in any other class on such a broad range of topics.”
    By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Bookie, Too Web site has a glitch

    If you’re a DDP student trying to order books from The Bookie, Too Web site, you’ll have to wait a bit. The order site is not yet active. Those in a hurry can place an order by phone. Call 509-334-3661 (or 800-937-4978 and ask to be forwarded to the Bookie, Too).

    Please do not order books through a different campus listing. If you do, you may get the wrong books.

    The Bookie Too expects its Web site to be fully functional by Monday, Dec. 7.

    Wednesday, December 2, 2009

    New online course: Black Popular Culture

    WSU Associate Professor David Leonard uses a wide-ranging list of movies, TV shows, and videos for his new online course, which begins spring semester. Learn more about Leonard and the course at the WSU Today Web site.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009

    Financial Aid 101 in Vancouver

    Washington State University Vancouver will host Financial Aid 101 at 6 p.m Dec. 8 in the Administration Building, Room 110. The event is free to the public and free parking will be available in Orange 1 lot.
    The course will cover what financial aid is, how to apply for it and how to access the money once it is awarded. Anyone interested in learning how financial aid can help pay for college is invited to attend.

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    King County libraries to end proctoring

    All branches of the King County Library System will discontinue exam proctoring services beginning January 1.
    The library system has more than 40 branches, said Kay Huffine, who handles exam processing for Distance Degree Programs.
    A list of potential exam proctors is available on our Web site. If you have questions about whether a proctor meets WSU criteria, please contact Kay at 509.335.3557 or 800.222.4978, or send her an e-mail.

    In other news:

    New Facebook page. The DDP academic advisors have launched their own Facebook page. It's called WSU Online Degree Advising. You can ask general questions, and get program updates.

    "Yes, there is a Summer Claus," said student body president Debby Poris. The ASWSU-DDP has approved five scholarships of $1,000 each for summer semester. The deadline to apply is March 15. Go to the Web site for more information and an application.

    Summer financial aid. The priority date for WSU summer financial aid applications is Feb. 15. The application will be available online in mid-December.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    DDP students near top in writing tests

    How have WSU students done on the Junior Writing Portfolio from 2007-2009? Pretty darn good, the Daily Evergreen reports.

    And DDP students in particular? Even better. They were the highest percentage (9.9%) to pass the Timed Writing category with distinction. They posted the second highest percentage (8.1%) in the Final Portfolio Results category, just behind WSU Vancouver.

    When it comes to students whose final portfolio needs work, the lowest and best score (6.6 percent) went to DDP students. Way to go!

    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Step up to a leadership role

    The ASWSU-DDP is looking for students to take leadership roles with the student government. This spring, the ASWSU-DDP will hold elections for president and seven senatorial positions.

    •Student government experience looks great on resumes.
    •You'll gain leadership skills.
    •Taking courses is more fun, since you get to know fellow leaders, who are often fellow classmates.

    The benefits include:
    •Paid travel expenses to ASWSU-DDP events.
    •Yearly salary between $1,000 and $4,000 depending upon the position.

    More information will be available soon at the ASWSU Web site. We'll keep you posted.

    Online education expected to skyrocket

    Online students may be in the minority now, but they're rapidly catching up. The key predictions:

    Now, 1.25 million higher ed students take all their classes online, 10.65 take some classes online, and 15.14 million students take all their courses in physical classrooms.

    By 2014, 3.55 million will take all their classes online, 18.65 million will take some classes online, and 5.14 million students will take all their courses in a physical classroom.

    Friday, November 13, 2009

    New student video on YouTube

    Thanks to the help of some wonderful DDP students, we were able to make a few videos during the spring 2009 pregraduation reception. Here's the first one.

    Join us at the pregame party

    The AWSU-DDP is having a party, and you're invited. We'll get together from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 22, just before the Cougs battle LSU during the Cougar Hardwood Classic basketball game. Join us at the Seattle's Best Western Executive Inn near the Key Arena.

    There will be free food, a chance to meet DDP staff, and to mingle with other students. A raffle will benefit the Ripple Effect program.

    To sign up for the pregame party and get discounted tickets, go to the ASWSU-DDP Web page. There is also a video about the event.

    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Magazine features DDP graduate

    Her respiratory problems forced her to retreat to the filtered-air "prison" of her bedroom. "My whole life was four walls and a laptop," Yolandé McVey says. Then she discovered Distance Degree Programs: "Washington State opened the doors to my life."

    After graduating from WSU, Yolandé published a romance novel and is now earning her master's degree. Read her story in the current Washington State Magazine.

    Monday, November 9, 2009

    New Web page helps veterans use GI Bill

    The American Council on Education has unveiled a Web site that helps veterans get the most out of their GI Bill benefits. To learn more about the GI Bill and WSU, veterans are invited to check with WSU's Office of Veterans Affairs.
    For students in the Spokane area, WSU Spokane has placed a Veterans Wall of Honor in all of its buildings. You're invited to post names, messages and photos to honor our military.

    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    Today's news roundup

    Help yourself. If you need a scholarship, there's a new Web site to check out. You create a profile and it matches you with scholarships. The Web site comes online in December, but you can register now to be notified when it launches.

    Help others. Have you seen our new scholarship page? We've created a place where you can contribute to our scholarship fund so deserving students can get a chance to change their lives.

    Join one of our Webinars. Want to know more about our program? You can get information at one of our upcoming Webinars. Topics include both the Online MBA and undergraduate degrees. You can log on from home, hear a live presentation, and receive immediate personalized answers to your questions. There is no cost, no preregistration requirement, and no special software is needed.

    Bayley to speak at reception. If you're coming to our pregraduation party on Dec. 11, there's good news. The featured speaker will be WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick Bayley. Last week, we posted an article about the 2008 event, and one special student who attended.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    Come hang out in the virtual lounge

    Pull up a virtual chair and kick back in our virtual lounge. The ASWSU-DDP has created a place for students to get together, share ideas and ask questions: Is that course any good? Which professor is better? What’s the best Wi-Fi coffee shop to study in?
          Other virtual meeting places include Facebook and this blog. You can get also together in real life at AWSU-DDP events, or use our Home Town Locator to see who’s in your neighborhood.

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    The Cyber Coug needs you

    Join the newsletter team. The Cyber Coug newsletter is looking for writers. If you want to share your thoughts, stories and advice, please let us know. The online newsletter, produced by the ASWSU-DDP, is also looking for an editor who can put it all together. If you're interested in either role, please contact PR Committee chair Crystal Darling.

    Request proctored exams now. All proctored exams - both online and paper - are mailed to the proctor unless you ask DDP to expedite it. Exam processing and delivery takes up to two weeks. If you have not yet requested the remainder of your proctored exams for the semester to be sent to your proctor, do so now. Remember, holiday mail slows delivery time. Plan with your proctor to ensure final exams will reach DDP by the deadline.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Don't miss out on scholarship money

    If you're planning on applying for a spring ASWSU-DDP scholarship, you'd better get busy. The deadline is Nov. 1. Go to the Web site for more information.

    The deadline for the Academic Scholarship Application for 2010-11 is a little further off (Jan. 31), but students who send in their applications earlier are given first priority. Get started right away to improve your chances.

    'I want to be a role model for my kids'

    December, 2008. The night before commencement. The string quartet played Boccherini, Vivaldi, Bach. About 80 Distance Degree Programs graduates and family members ate pasta and chicken at Washington State University’s Lewis Alumni Center. Valerie Quintasket's sleeveless red dress defied the forecast of a blizzard. So did the fact that she had driven her SUV 170 miles from Inchelium, Washington, to Pullman.
          After working four years to earn her bachelor’s in human development, she wasn’t about to let the weather keep her away from commencement festivities. “I want to be a role model for my kids,” she said of Isaac, 9, Almeta, 5, and Sadie, 3. “I wanted them to see that I could graduate. If they see I did it, then they’ll know they can do it too.”
          Now they’ve not only seen her graduate, but they’ve also seen her degree pay off. More... She’s landed a new job as a counselor for Colville Confederated Tribes Vocational Rehabilitation Program. “I provide guidance and counseling to individuals with diagnosable disabilities so they can gain or maintain employment,” she said. “The majority of my clients are sincerely trying to do great things with their lives, so it is really rewarding to help them.”
          Valerie, 31, grew up on the Colville Indian Reservation. She left high school at 16 and got a job at the Burger King in Omak. After earning her GED, she started working for the tribal casino in Okanogan, a few miles south of Omak. She earned an associate’s degree from Wenatchee Valley College’s Omak campus, and worked as a family services specialist at Inchelium Head Start before starting her new post.
          She enrolled in DDP in 2004 – “just to try it out” – and discovered it was a good fit. “I was able to juggle work, children and school because of this program. I really liked the way it was laid out and it was easy to follow.”
          When the juggling got too intense, help was near. “My dad really pushed me though school,” she said. “Whenever I felt like throwing in the towel, he said, ‘Get your homework done and I’ll take the kids.’ ”
          Her instructors also cut her some slack. “If I found myself falling behind or struggling, I had some awesome professors,” she said. “As long as I let them know what was going on, they really worked with me.”
          Valerie is a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes, which includes the Arrow Lakes Nation, as well as the Methow, Okanogan, San Poil, Nespelem, Nez Perce, Palouse, Moses, Entiat, and Wenatchee tribes. Her great-aunt Mourning Dove (Christine Quintasket) is known as the first Native American to write a novel (Cogewea, the Half-Blood, 1927). Her grandfather, Charlie Quintasket, fought to save tribal lands in the 1970s and worked for the re-establishment of the Sinixt (Arrow Lakes) Nation in British Columbia.
          Charlie Quintasket was fluent in Nselxcin, a dialect of Salish. (Quintasket means “Green Sky” in Nselxsin.) Valerie is learning her native language. “To really hear the words,” she said, “gives you a stronger outlook on how things were, how relationships were.”
          For example, the words “my” and “mine” are used infrequently in Nselxsin, reflecting the tribal culture’s lack of possessiveness. And while there are words for “excuse me” and “thank you,” there’s no word for “please,” which demonstrates a high regard for children, she said. “If a child wants a bite of food, the reaction is to make the child say ‘please.’ They are hungry, why make them beg? I teach my children manners, but don’t insist they beg.”
          Sure enough, at December’s party, Almeta didn’t say please when she asked if she could go play with Butch T. Cougar. By the time Almeta came back – “I held cougar, Mommy, I held cougar” – Isaac had fallen asleep on Valerie’s lap. Almeta slipped under her arm and into her embrace. The quartet played its final song (“One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story) as people zipped thick parkas over party clothes, pulled ski caps down to their eyebrows, and drifted toward the door. No one lingered. Tomorrow was a big day.

          This year's pre-commencement reception
    is 4-6 p.m., Dec. 11. For information, please visit the ASWSU-DDP Web site.

    -- By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    Yakima learning center to return

    WSU plans to re-establish support for the Yakima learning center. Here's the article from the Yakima Herald-Republic.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Request your proctored exams now

    Now is the time to request proctored exams for the fall semester. Proctored exams are mailed; other delivery methods are done at a student’s request and expense.
    Please also consider how you're going to return the exam. Ask your proctors if they handle other than regular mail. If not, you may have to take your final exam earlier so it can be back to the instructor by the deadline. Remember, a student may handle an exam only when taking it. More...Regular mail may take up to two weeks and the upcoming holidays could further slow delivery. More information is on our Web site. Select the heading: “How to Nominate a Proctor and Request a Proctored Exam.” Got a question? Ask Kay.

    A special note to on-campus students taking SOC 461, which is offered both in-person and online: The final exam is proctored. On-campus students need to schedule an exam appointment two weeks before planning to take the final. Please contact DDP at 509-335-3557, 800-222-4978, or e-mail Kay for details.

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    New to DDP? Get your ID

    With spring semester fast approaching, new students need to be sure they have a WSU Network ID. Don't delay, you'll need this NID for everything you do online with WSU.
    Please create your ID as soon as possible.

    Check out the latest Cyber Coug newsletter

    2008 DDP grad Jola Barnett shares secrets of academic success in the latest Cyber Coug newsletter.
    Other topics include career tips, a look at the veterans committee, and, as always, Larry the Answer Man fields your questions.

    Thursday, October 22, 2009

    Join us on our virtual island

    WSU's Center for Distance and Professional Education is seeking teams of WSU students to create educational and social events on the WSU Second Life Island. Students do not need a strong technical background, just a desire to learn.
    More... These unpaid positions are an excellent way to meet other students while exploring a new technology. If you would like to participate, send an e-mail to CDPE Associate Dean David Cillay. Please include the following information:

    E-mail subject line: WSUSL
    Class standing
    E-mail address
    Project role that you would like to play
    •Event Planner
    A brief statement about your experience with Second Life, why you are interested in the project, and how much time you can commit to the project each week.
    Successful applicants will be granted full access to the WSU Second Life Island. Applications must be received by Nov. 2.
    To see a video of how students created the island, go to YouTube.

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    Music professor wins two awards

    WSU's Greg Yasinitsky, who teaches the online course Music 362, History of Jazz, gets double honors.

    Cruise line exec gets in deep

    One, twice, three times a Cougar: Sally van Boheemen is a Cougar mom, an Alumni Association volunteer, and, most recently, a student in Washington State University Distance Degree Programs.
    Football coach Bill Doba assisted with her conversion to Cougar mom. In 2004, several universities were trying to recruit Van Boheemen’s son Kellen, a top football player at Tumwater High School.
    During a WSU recruiting event, “Doba came up and talked with Kellen,” Van Boheemen said. “He was so warm and personable that we were immediately struck with a feeling of family. That feeling became more intense as we sat through a few team sessions where players discussed why they chose WSU. Kellen came away saying, ‘It feels right, it feels like a family.’” Kellen turned down a scholarship elsewhere to enroll at WSU.
    More... Van Boheemen was also impressed, which led to the second phase of her Cougar-ization. In 2006, she learned you don’t have to be a WSU graduate to volunteer with the Alumni Association. She served on committees, organized events, and became a deputy director of the King County Alumni Association as well as a director of the King County Athletic Foundation.
    It wasn’t like she had time to spare. Van Boheemen, 51, is the director of Fleet Medical Operations at Holland America Line. She manages an $8 million budget, supervises an office staff of nine in downtown Seattle and more than 800 nurses and doctors on 14 cruise ships. She deals with erupting volcanoes, plane crashes, outbreaks of polio and dengue fever on resort islands. “My job is 24/7,” she said.
    Phase three of Van Boheemen’s Cougar transformation happened aboard Holland America’s Oosterdam ship in Seattle. She was helping WSU organize a diversity tribute. One presenter was Dr. Michael Tate, vice president of WSU’s Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity.
    “He was such an engaging speaker, I thought, ‘Wow, if my professors were like that in college, I would have learned so much.’ It got me to thinking about returning to college. That, combined with my love of WSU, got me started on the DDP path.”
    Van Boheemen joined DDP in 2007, almost 30 years after she graduated from Yakima Valley College with a nursing degree. She’s majoring in sociology. “I wanted to stretch my mind in a new direction.”
    Online education is both easy and difficult, she said.
    “The process is made very easy by the University,” she said. “You can log on no matter where you are. You can see your work, chat with the professor. The challenge is that you have to be very self-disciplined. It’s very easy to say, ‘I’m busy today, I’ll wait until tomorrow.’ A couple times I had to take a personal day off to finish my papers.”
    Her employers are more than understanding.
    “There’s a part of our yearly performance appraisal that asks what you’re doing to improve yourself, aside from work,” Van Boheemen said. “I put, ‘obtaining a degree from WSU.’ I listed the courses, and that I got an A. They were really impressed.”
    -- Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Get a jump on spring with this checklist

    Registration for Spring 2010 begins Nov. 9. For best class selection and to avoid last-minute problems, register as early as possible!
    We're sending out a postcard with a checklist, but here's a preview:
    Print and review your most recent academic progress report (APR), which lists the courses you need to fulfill your degree requirements. Log in to myDDP, select “My Advising,” then “Current Academic Progress Report.”
    Check for holds and note your designated registration time in myWSU at “Academics”/ “Register & Plan”/“Registration Time & Holds.” You will not be permitted to register if a hold is in place. Note your designated registration time. Register as early as possible after this time.
    Contact your academic advisor early (before your designated registration time) to discuss your new class schedule and your degree requirements. Your advisor will lift your advising hold after confirming that the courses you want to take will meet your degree requirements. More...
    Address Verification: Course materials are shipped to the address listed on your myDDP Web page. (Make sure all your contact information is correct.) If your address is out of date or is listed incorrectly, you will be billed for additional shipping expenses or lost items.
    WSU E-mail Address: You must activate your WSU e-mail account to participate in DDP courses and receive information from DDP.
    Go to the Schedule of Classes; under “Schedules for Campuses and Terms,” select the appropriate term next to “DDP.”
    Find the course(s) you plan to take, as discussed with your advisor, and note the schedule line numbers (SLNs) for those courses. The SLNs for restricted courses can be found on your “My Advising” tab in myDDP. Note the “More Information” selection for special course info.
    During your designated registration time, log in to myWSU; choose “Academics”/“Register & Plan”/“Registration” to enroll in your selected course(s). To see the registration schedule, go here.
    More information is at our registration center.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Fun weekend is fast approaching

    Homecoming weekend is Oct. 9-11. Along with the Cougars-Sun Devils game, there will be a street fair, bonfire, exhibits, food fair and special passes for the rec center. Here's a list that includes a link to a printable flier. Come share the fun.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Nominate faculty, advisors for awards

    Please nominate your favorite faculty member for recognition during the December graduation reception. Send ASWSU-DDP President Debby Poris a paragraph about the instructor, and be sure to include the teacher's name and the name of the course. The deadline is November 15.

    You can also nominate your academic advisor for an award. Visit the Web page for more information. The deadline is Oct. 15.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Video becomes a moo-vie

    Two DDP academic advisors recently traveled to San Antonio for a conference on using technology. To show how simple it is to make a video, they made their own at an area farm. It was meant to be a light-hearted piece about communication techniques. Then the cattle got busy.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Online MBA hits ground running

    WSU's new Online MBA program starts fast, gains speed. Enrollment is predicted to triple next semester, and two top faculty members have signed on to teach courses, including College of Business Associate Dean David Sprott, left.

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    The five stages of Angel angst

    A student who wished to remain anonymous shared the psychological journey faced by those grappling with an Angel outage.
    1. Thursday: Denial
    On being told that the exam could not be taken, there was initial shock. I may have appeared dazed and may have refused to believe that anything was wrong. Some students never pass beyond this stage.
    2. Later Thursday: Anger
    Students become frustrated, irritable and angry that they are unable to resolve technical issues with Angel. A common response is, "Why me?" They may become angry at their fate, a friend, or a family member. The anger may be displaced onto the DDP staff or professors.
    3. Friday: Bargaining
    The student may attempt to negotiate with DDP staff, friends or even the professor that in return for a technical resolution, the person will fulfill a promise, such as giving to charity or reaffirming an earlier faith in the Angel learning system.
    4. Saturday: Depression
    The student shows clinical signs of depression: withdrawal, psychomotor retardation, sleep disturbances, hopelessness and possibly suicidal ideation. The depression may be a reaction to the immediate crisis or it may be in anticipation of failing their classes.
    5. Sunday: Acceptance
    The student accepts the inevitable. Under ideal circumstances, the student is courageous as he or she faces the unknown. People with strong beliefs in life after death can find comfort in these beliefs.

    If you're having technical problems with Angel, go to our help desk.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    High note for DDP student

    Russ Martin leads the Walla Walla Symphony’s 2008 season to a rousing start.

    The 80 musicians had finished tuning up. More than 1,300 people waited. Russ Martin had never conducted before. He walked on stage – “a fascinating combination of pure terror and sheer exhilaration” – raised his baton, and launched the Walla Walla Symphony’s 2008 season with the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
    Despite the pressure, his heartbeat remained adagio: “I was remarkably calm,” he said. “As I think back on it now, it was a dreamlike moment in time, as if time itself stood still.”
    Martin, 52, is no stranger to taking chances. More... In 1977, he left his political science studies at Lewis & Clark College in Portland to open a chain of record stores. The chain, Play it Again, never grew past two stores, but that “wild and crazy time” led him to the music distribution business. He became a territory manager for Capitol Records, vice president of several music distribution companies, and president of Miramar Records.
    Then he saw an ad in the Walla Walla newspaper. The symphony needed an executive director.
    Undeterred by his lack of non-profit management experience, he sent a resume and was hired in 2001. In 2005, a friend persuaded him to return to the music and video distribution business. He moved to Bainbridge Island, where he’s the national sales manager for ESI Distribution.
    Last fall, the symphony’s general manager remembered Martin’s secret desire to conduct and arranged for a few lessons from symphony conductor Yaacov Bergman.
    “It was an opportunity to experience one of my fantasy occupations,” Martin said. “Kind of like throwing out the first pitch at a Major League game.”
    Martin is also considering non-fantasy occupations. To get there, he looked at several online degree programs. He chose Washington State University “because of its commitment to offering a world-class education to all.”
    In 2006, he enrolled in Distance Degree Programs. He’s majoring in social sciences, and said his courses in science, English, and human development “have opened my eyes forever.”
    He graduated in spring 2009 with plans to pursue an executive master’s degree in nonprofit leadership or, possibly, a master’s in fine arts administration. After that, he said, “who knows?”
    Wherever the path leads, he’s eager for the next adventure.
    “The second half for me is about to begin and I’m thrilled.”

    By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education
    Photo by Hans Matschukat

    Monday, September 21, 2009

    Hundreds attend pregame party

    The DDP's student government threw a party for students, family and friends next to Qwest Field, just before the Cougars took on Hawaii during Seattle Week. Here's a look at the event.

    Friday, September 18, 2009

    Apply now to boost scholarship chances

    Here's a tip that could save you lots of money: The Academic Scholarship Application for 2010-11 has just been posted at WSU's scholarship Web site. The deadline is Jan. 31, but students who send in their applications earlier are given first priority. Get started right away to improve your chances.

    Also coming up is the Nov. 1 deadline to apply for a spring ASWSU-DDP scholarship. Go to our Web page for more information.

    Monday, September 14, 2009

    Bookie Too announces deadlines

    The Bookie Too will stop accepting online orders for fall semester after Sept. 18. To order after that, please call 509-334-3661.

    The Bookie Too also reports that its buyback is currently at wholesale amounts for books. These values go back up to retail if the book is readopted for the spring semester. Please call the Bookie Too concerning buyback before you ship the books.

    Return authorizations for books for the fall semester will stop being available on Sept. 14. If you have a current authorization, please ship the books to the Bookie Too as soon as possible, because your authorization is good for only two weeks after it is assigned to you.

    Thursday, September 10, 2009

    Take a seminar, get a credit

    Fall brings a fascinating crop of academic seminars, from why we believe in weird things to the marketing of green businesses. The one-credit seminars last three hours and are held across the state from Oct. 13-Oct. 29. Check the schedule for more information. Deadline to register is Sept. 25.

    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    ASWSU-DDP seeks legislative director

    The ASWSU-DDP executive board is looking for a director of legislative affairs. The director will represent DDP students at Washington Student Association meetings and work with state legislators in Olympia. This is a paid position with travel being reimbursed. More information and an application form is online. All applications must be received by Sept. 19.

    Tuesday, September 8, 2009

    Biz degree ranks high on U.S. News list

    U.S. News and World Report ranks WSU's International Business major 20th in the nation. The program is now being offered online, along with four other business programs, as well as an EMBA and an OMBA.

    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    Balancing kids, college

    College and children demand a lot of time. In the new Cyber Coug newsletter, one parent offers her top 10 tips for staying on track. Other features include career advice and "Ask Larry," a place for DDP students to get their questions answered.

    Friday, August 28, 2009

    Become an advisor to President Floyd

    WSU's President’s Student Advisory Board is looking for students to share their ideas with President Floyd. All WSU students are eligible to apply.

    The board consists of 20 student members, the Graduate and Professional Student Association president, ASWSU-DDP president, each ASWSU president from all WSU campuses, and Floyd. The board meets three to four times a semester at WSU Pullman. DDP students who live near a branch campus or WSU-West can attend meetings over the Internet.

    The deadline to apply is Sept. 7. For more information and an application go to the Web site.

    In Russia, DDP student empowers self

    Distance Degree Programs students need a computer, Internet access and motivation. In Russia, a broom can also come in handy.
    In 2004, student Susan Hale went to Moscow when her husband, Wayne, took an aluminum company job there. “Our apartment was wonderful on the inside,” she said, “but the wiring was Soviet-era and failed all the time.” She was frustrated – until she found the fuse box, high above the floor in a stairwell: “I realized I could go into the hallway with a broom and flip the circuit switch back on.”
    Hale, 52, also learned the hard way that Russian Internet providers charge by the megabyte.
    More... “Once our daughter downloaded some music and used up a month’s worth of Internet time,” Hale said. Whenever her time ran out, Hale had to find a language translator, walk to the Internet office, and pay in cash. “It usually took a day for them to turn the Internet back on,” she said. “This put a serious dent in my ability to stay connected to the DDP.”
    Mailing academic materials back to the U.S. was also a problem. “The Russians were very suspicious of anything leaving the country,” she said. “A simple envelope required your visa information, your registration information, your passport information and a Russian contact to verify and confirm the transaction.”
    When the frustrations grew too much, she put her college education on hold. She returned to DDP when she moved to her current home in Monterey, California.
    Hale lived in Utah when she first joined DDP in 2002. “I really wanted to finish my degree but I didn't want our transient lifestyle to get in the way,” she said. “I was born in Seattle, so I looked into some of my home state offerings. WSU had the perfect program: Distance-based classes to finish your degree in a reasonable but structured environment.”
    Hale will graduate this December with a social sciences degree, becoming the final family member to earn a university degree.
    “I took the longest to reach my destination,” she said, “but I’ll be the only Cougar in the family.”

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Now online: Native Americans in Film

    Professor Richard King is teaching his Native Americans in Film course online this fall.

    Boy Scouts battle Indians over a hidden treasure in the 1939 film Scouts to the Rescue. The Indians speak perfect English – if you play the film backward. The director reversed the footage of Native American dialogue, creating a new language that lip-syncs with the actors.
    Such blatant cultural indifference hasn’t receded into the past, said Professor Richard King, chair of WSU’s Comparative Ethnic Studies Department. It’s just become more subtle.
    More...Dances with Wolves ends with the Sioux being crushed and fading into history. Pocohontas ends with her sacrificing herself for English society. Last of the Mohicans is about the noble savage that can’t survive in civilization,” said King, who this fall is teaching a new online course, CES 379: Native Americans in Film. “If it seems inevitable that they’re doomed to pass underneath the treads of civilization, then we don’t feel quite so bad about what actually happened.”
    This sense of manifest destiny pervades many films, King said. Students in the three-credit course will analyze those movies, and examine the role Native Americans played as writers, directors, and actors. The course includes threaded discussions and group projects. “I have used student blogging before,” King said, “and I found the new media to be an excellent space for more open expression and deeper exploration.”
    Going online created some copyright issues, said Distance Degree Programs instructional designer Rebecca Van de Vord. “There are many movies we can’t put online without paying copyright fees, which get passed onto the students,” she said.
    The solution was two-fold, she said. Students will rent some movies – Dance with Wolves, Smoke Signals, for example. Other movies are in the public domain, and can be viewed online for free – White Fawn’s Devotion, for example, and Battle of Elderbush Gulch.
    “It was a pretty seamless transition” to move the course online, King said. “Rebecca was very good at keeping me on task.”
    King brings extensive expertise to the course, as evidenced by his 35-page curriculum vitae. His research into the racial politics of culture has appeared a variety of journals, and he is the author or editor of several books, including Team Spirits: The Native American Mascot Controversy and Postcolonial America. He recently completed Native American Athletes in Sport and Society and The Encyclopedia of Native Americans and Sport.
    “As a child, I was a YMCA Indian Guide and Boy Scout,” King said. “I played cowboys and Indians, and rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs.” He became interested Native American issues in high school, when he learned about Leonard Peltier and the American Indian Movement. King went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Kansas.
    “It was not until graduate school at the University of Illinois, home of the Fighting Illini and Chief Illiniwek, that I began to come to terms with the ways in which Euro-Americans misinterpreted indigenous peoples,” he said.
    “It became a passion that has expanded past the controversy over Native American mascots to include such issues as the debate over squaw place names, indigenous rap music, and the distinct ways that whiteness, blackness, and Indianness are given expression in sports.”

    --Richard H. Miller/CDPE

    Thursday, August 20, 2009

    Magazine features DDP students

    Sylvia Guzman, left, and Kirsten Johnston.

    Two DDP students are featured in the annual magazine published by WSU's Division of Student Affairs, Equity and Diversity. On page 20 (page 12 in the .pdf viewer) is the story of Sylvia Guzman, a formerly homeless migrant worker who works for Early Head Start in Mount Vernon, Washington.
    On page 31 (17 in the viewer) is an article about Kirsten Johnston, a DDP student who converted to Islam and moved to Saudi Arabia, where she lives with her husband and five children.

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    Go underground with Dr. Dirt

    They call her Dr. Dirt. It should be Dr. Soil. The distinction is important, says Professor Joan Davenport, a soils scientist at Washington State University. “You must know the difference between soils and dirt before you earn the right to malign soils by calling them dirt.”

    Certainly no one wishes to denigrate soils. To help people avoid such a gaffe, Davenport explains the difference. Dirt is dead, she says, while soil is full of microscopic life. Soil provides our food, supports our forest and enriches our lives. Dirt gets under your nails and into the carpet. Soil is “the upper skin of the Earth.”

    Yet, despite all of soil’s benefits, it’s often treated like dirt: “We walk all over it!” Davenport says. More...
    Davenport brings her love of soil to a new online course this fall. Soils 201 is designed for those seeking a degree in agriculture or earning WSU’s Organic Agriculture Certificate. The three-credit course includes a lot of multimedia, such as animations and videos, but a shovel is also handy. In one assignment, students dig up soil, and put in a plastic bag with a piece of white paper. A week later, they report on what happened to the paper, and if they found any worms or insects.

    When the assignment ends, she tells students “feel free to put the soil back into the ground where you dug it.” Davenport often takes a protective approach to soil. “I get very upset when I see land left to erode,” she says, “or people dumping waste on the soil that the soil cannot deal with.”

    Davenport lives in Prosser, Washington. She’s an avid vegetable gardener, and she and her husband also grow wine grapes. She nourishes their patch of soil by composting kitchen wastes “to give them back to the land.”

    Davenport taught a graduate level online soils class last fall, and has taught the soils module of WSU’s Viticulture Certificate Program online since 2006. “The viticulture program convinced me that online teaching could be as effective as live teaching,” she said. “In all my online teaching experiences, I have really appreciated the diversity of students and how we interact.”

    Her interest in soils began in high school, when she worked on an organic farm. She earned a bachelor’s degree in plant science from Rutgers in 1978, a master’s in soil management from Iowa State University in 1981, and doctorate in soil chemistry from the University of Guelph in 1985.

    “I am always interested in getting down and dirty about soils,” Davenport says.

    --Richard H. Miller/CDPE

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Free Webinars on Dreamweaver

    If you're interested in Web design, you know that Dreamweaver is a key tool. DDP students and friends are being offered a free Webinar series on Dreamweaver.
    The series lasts 10 weeks. Each Webinar is an hour long, with a 30-minute Q&A session afterward.
    The classes start the week of Sept. 22. Times will be posted on the Web site in the near future.
    To enroll, just fill out this form.

    Publisher offers textbook rentals

    Cengage Learning has become first higher education publisher to let students rent print textbooks directly from the source. Renters get the first chapter online in an e-book format, then have the book shipped to them. Other companies are also taking steps in this direction.
    If they can put the first chapter online, the next logical step seems like providing online access to the entire book, avoiding shipping costs and hassles.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    DDP has squirmy pals in basement

    DDP academic advisor Chrisi Kincaid gets her hands dirty Wednesday in the basement of Van Doren Hall.

    The latest arrivals at WSU’s Van Doren Hall are being kept in the dark and fed organic material.

    The worms live in a small blue plastic bin, chomping on food waste to create compost. Their new assignments came after state budget cuts forced WSU-Pullman custodians to stop emptying trash cans in offices. “When we heard about the reductions in trash service, we thought we’d try not to throw out so much,” said Chrisi Kincaid, an academic advisor for Distance Degree Programs, which shares Van Doren with WSU’s conference management unit.
    More... Kincaid and DDP research analyst Korolyn Pogue started the project Tuesday. “Since we’re taking our garbage into the hall, we can use this as an opportunity to recycle,” Pogue said. “And maybe next year when people go fishing, they’ll be able to get their worms here.”

    Kincaid and Pogue are starting small, with a few banana peels and about 15 worms. “They are regular old garden worms,” Kincaid said. “They came from my compost pile.” Next up is getting some red wigglers, known for being both voracious and lusty.
    “If you get half a cup of red wigglers,” Kincaid said, “they’ll double in numbers in a few weeks. They work much faster. They reproduce a lot faster.”

    WSU soils scientist Joan Davenport said she hadn’t heard of other offices using mini-compost bins. “But I think it is a perfect idea,” said Davenport, who has a compost pile at home. “Why shouldn’t WSU, a land-grant university, be a forerunner in this?”

    The benefits are personal as well as environmental. “I can take a break and do a little organic farming right here in Van Doren,” said Kincaid, who promised the bin would be odorless.

    “I think it will be fun,” Pogue said. “We’ll have a little entertainment down here in the basement.”

    That kind of entertainment can stay in the basement, said conference organizer Joy Thompson, who works on the second floor. “I’m not a big fan of worms,” she said. “They’re slimy and gross. I’ll pretend they’re not there.”

    Story and photos by Richard H. Miller/CDPE

    Friday, August 7, 2009

    DDP student forges ahead

    Kristopher Skelton is two kinds of smith: blacksmith and wordsmith.
    His interest in the first type of smithing began when he was given a pocketknife as a child. “I remember being amazed that the tool I held in my hand had once been rocks in the ground,” the Distance Degree Programs student writes on his Web site, alchemyforge.net. “It was several years before I realized that people still made things from steel with fire and hammer.”
    He wanted to build a forge, but his mother was afraid he’d burn down the house. It wasn’t until 2002 that he mixed fire and metal, creating a hook with a handle. “My wife still uses it for lifting our Dutch oven off the campfire,” he said.
    More...Skelton, 31, is a member of the Northwest Blacksmith Association, and his work was a jury selection at the Lynnwood Arts Council’s 2004 “Seeing Red” exhibit. Two years later, his Web site says, he was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, which proves he definitely has fabrication talents. Those creative skills come in handy on his five blogs, including one dedicated to tough guys with facial hair. (Skelton’s own moustache seems designed for twirling.)
    Skelton’s creative side finds little outlet in his regular job, which involves calling insurance companies to appeal medical claim denials. “It’s just as intellectually stimulating as it sounds,” he said. His DDP studies offer more of a challenge. The Lynnwood, Washington, resident is majoring in humanities, has a minor in history and is earning a professional writing certificate.
    Skelton completed his associate’s degree at Shoreline Community College in 1998. “It nagged at me that I didn’t finish, especially when I looked for a new job and all the listings required at least a B.A.” He joined DDP in January 2008 because the online program fit both his schedule and his biorhythms: “I find my brain is most active in the evenings.”
    That synaptic activity impresses DDP academic advisor Chrisi Kincaid. “Kris is an amazing student,” she said. “With his love of writing and history, and his engaging manner, he’d be an excellent teacher.”
    Will the wordsmith and blacksmith become a mindsmith too? For the moment, Skelton is sticking to one of his two current smithing interests.
    “I’ll pursue a master’s in public history so I can be a blacksmith at a living history museum,” he said. “Or I’ll become a writer/editor for a videogame or role-playing game company.”

    - Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Thursday, August 6, 2009

    Score some discount football tickets

    DDP students, families and friends can get discounted tickets to watch the Cougs battle Hawaii at 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at Qwest Field in Seattle.
    Go to the student government Web site to learn more and to sign up for the free pregame luncheon at the Silver Cloud Hotel.
    The Cougar Gridiron Classic football game is part of the WSU in Seattle festivities, which run from Sept. 10-12.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2009

    New financial aid form this fall

    If your 2009-10 financial aid package includes grants and you are enrolled less than full-time for fall semester, you will find a new item on your to-do list: A Fall Enrollment Verification form.
    Completing this form notifies staff at the financial aid office that your grants are ready to be pro-rated based on your actual enrollment, so don’t submit the form until your registration is final. You will receive a portal notice once your aid has been revised. Grants cannot be disbursed until this form has been processed.

    Monday, August 3, 2009

    Profile: HD instructor Mary Garcia

         Africanized killer bees didn’t slow down Mary Garcia.
         It was 1987. Garcia, now a Distance Degree Programs instructor, had just finished a degree in child and family development, but lacked the certificate needed to join the Peace Corps as a teacher. Instead, she signed up for beekeeper training. She was sent to a Paraguay village, where she braved the stings as she helped increase honey production.
         “I was so used to it that it was like swatting away flies,” she said. (Garcia still loves bees, and will enumerate their virtues with little prompting.)
         While in the village, Garcia wanted to teach preschoolers, but they “held class in a broom closet.” That did slow her down, but not for long. She got a $2,000 grant, bought bricks, mortar, windows, tiles, and a door. Using oxen, she helped bring the bricks to the village. When the school was built, she taught courses there.
    More...     Last year, Garcia’s husband, Doug, took at job as art director at Colorado State University, and the Garcia family – including 11-year-old Gabrielle, 10-year-old Jojo, and Casey, a soft-coated wheaten terrier – moved from Pullman to Fort Collins. That slowed her down not one bit. “All I need is a reliable computer with a high-speed Internet connection,” she said.
         Her human development students certainly haven’t seen any slacking off. She’s a constant presence in the discussion boards and says “every post deserves to be read.” Along with fast feedback, her students also get her e-mail and phone number for immediate help.
         Garcia believes DDP students deserve that kind of dedication. “I have single moms, older students, moms with six kids, dads who have been laid off, grandmas, military wives, and young co-eds,” she said. “Most have full-time jobs and families. Yet after they put their kids to bed, they jump online and get their homework turned in. It’s truly amazing to see their drive.”
         After the Peace Corps, Garcia returned to her hometown of Alhambra, California, where she taught preschool, and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, helping build a two-story duplex for low income families. In 1992, she moved to Pullman, working at Washington State University while earning a 1994 master’s degree in human development. In her free time, she played guitar and led the choir at St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center.
         She taught her first online course in 1999, and has taught Human Development 204, 301, 403, 406, and 410.
         In spring 2008, she added a new twist to her HD 403 course, Families in Poverty, by requiring her 80 students to perform 20 hours of community service. They volunteered at a variety of organizations, exemplifying WSU’s mission of community engagement.
         This semester, Garcia is teaching three online courses. Part of the reason she likes online education, she said, is stage fright.
         “I taught on campus for two semesters and it turned my stomach into butterflies,” she said. “I much prefer sitting behind my computer and teaching online than face to face any day of the week.”
         One thing Garcia misses about living in Pullman is the opportunity to meet DDP students at on-campus events. One thing she enjoys about being 800 miles away? “I’m not obligated to attend meetings anymore.”
    By Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Thursday, July 30, 2009

    Bookie Too Web site working again

    Technical difficulties that prevented the Bookie Too Web site from filling orders online appear to be fixed. If you still want to place an order by phone, call 509-334-3661 or the toll free line, 800-937-4978, and ask to be transferred to DDP Textbooks.

    Friday, July 24, 2009

    New Web site for DDP Bookie

    The Bookie Too has opened its order site for DDP student textbooks. The site has a new address, bookieddp.com. Most courses now have their textbooks posted, but there are a dozen or so book lists still on the way.

    Thursday, July 23, 2009

    Student finds new challenges in China

    Aaron Lassman, right, with Sandra, Steffon, and adopted twins Ginger, in yellow, and Jasmine.

    Aaron Lassman likes challenges. He drove an ambulance for 13 years in Seattle. He served in the National Guard. He spent six months backpacking through Central America with his wife, Sandra, and 6-year-old son, Steffon.
    Steffon is now 16, and the Lassman family lives in Beijing, along with Ginger and Jasmine, 3-year-old twins they adopted from south China. Beijing is about 5,400 miles from Washington State University, as the crow flies. As the mouse clicks, however, it takes only a few seconds for Aaron to attend a course through WSU’s Distance Degree Programs.
    Aaron is majoring in social science, with a minor in management information systems. More... Before transferring to WSU, he studied online at Bellevue Community College. “I’ve been a long-distance student for about four years now,” Aaron said during a June visit to Pullman, where he met with his academic advisor, Jaqueline Almdale. “WSU’s program is just amazing. The number of courses offered online is great.”
    Aaron is a “trailing spouse,” which is the U.S. State Department’s way of saying he is in Beijing because Sandra is a consular officer at the embassy. She works with immigration and visa services, and helps Americans in trouble, such as those recently quarantined because of H1N1 flu. He works at the embassy doing technical support.
    Aaron appreciates China’s good Internet service – except when authorities censor the sites he needs to visit for his studies. “Whatever gets blocked,” he said, “I can do at the office, where we have unfiltered access.”
    Unlike China, the Lassman household embraces dissent. While Aaron is a Coug, and comes from a family of Cougs, Sandra is a University of Washington graduate. Their car pays tribute to both allegiances with a “House Divided” sticker. That brings Cougs out of the woodwork.
    “People leave cards and notes on the window saying, ‘Hey, I’m a Cougar, too,’” Aaron said. “It’s amazing how many Cougars you run into. If I’m wearing my Cougar hat, they come up to me and say, ‘nice hat.’ ” Do Huskies ever leave notes on the car? “Not so much, no.”
    Aaron will graduate from WSU in May. “I was a horrible high school student,” he said. “I graduated with a 2.0. I never wanted to go to college. But I just took a shine to it as a grownup. Now my GPA is 3.7.”
    What’s the secret to his success? Jaqueline stepped in: “Aaron’s an excellent student,” his advisor said. “He’s got really good time management skills. He’s well organized. He –”
    “He gets lots of support from his family,” Sandra finished, amid peals of laughter.
    “I get lots of support from my family,” Aaron said. “Lots of support from my family.”
    -- Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education
    Photo by Brian Maki/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Wine, cheese and cherries

    As we reported earlier, it was a WSU scientist who developed the Rainier cherry. Now, WSU researcher Walter Clore is being honored as the father of the Washington state wine industry.
    Wine, cherries ... what's missing? How about some Cougar gold cheese? (The Web page includes a cow sound effect.) The WSU creamery isn't shipping now, due to the heat, but if you're in Pullman, you can pick up a few cans.
    While you're there, try a "Grabber," WSU's version of an ice-cream sandwich. Both the cheese and ice cream come from university cows (they're very smart). This video offers a behind-the-scenes look at creamery operations.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Real-world relaxation

    While DDP students slave away on our virtual campus, our physical campus is in the midst of its summer slumbers. We hope these peaceful photos will bring our students a rare moment of relaxation.

    Friday, July 17, 2009

    Biz degree ranked 'Best Buy'

    WSU's online bachelors of business administration has been ranked a "Best Buy" by the national editorial review team at GetEducated.com.
    The award means the program provides "a high quality distance bachelors to a national audience at tuition rates well below the national average," the organization said.
    WSU's online undergraduate business degree offer five areas of concentration: Accounting, entrepreneurship, international business, management and operations, and management information systems.
    More information about all of WSU's online degrees is on the DDP Web site.
    Also, beginning this fall, WSU is expanding its business options by offering an online MBA.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009

    We're fixing the phones

    Phone service put on hold. All campus land-line phones will be out from 3 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, until 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for repairs.

    Open education. Professor asks students to post homework on public blog. It went so well, he reports, that he expanded the idea and invited outsiders to join in a course. We'd like to know what you think. Would you enjoy showing your work in a public forum?

    Monday, July 13, 2009

    Monday updates

    Financial aid. Major changes are looming for the national's financial aid system. Here's an update on where things stand right now.

    Co-admit program. Community college students who want to continue on to WSU's online program now have a simpler way to enroll. The application forms are online.

    The latest Word. Microsoft will offer free online versions of Word and other Office programs next year.

    Monday, July 6, 2009

    Cyber Coug newsletter

    The new student government newsletter is out, and includes not only useful tips, but also photo contest results (the top winner is at right), and a recipe for dog biscuits. ASWSU-DDP President Debby Poris says the student government welcomes submissions for the next issue of Cyber Coug. If you're a student or alum with a story to share, please send Debby an e-mail.

    Thursday, July 2, 2009

    Good news on financial aid

    A new federal plan links college loan payments to incomes. This New York Times article also discusses the reduction in interest rates for Stafford loans, which went into effect this week.

    In more good news for students, President Obama signs HR 1777, which excludes veterans educational benefits from estimated financial assistance starting July 1. WSU's financial aid office will automatically revise awards for affected veterans.

    Need more information? Contact our financial aid office.

    Wednesday, July 1, 2009

    News from the branch campuses

    WSU-Vancouver is offering an online Deaf Education Endorsement, with the help of Distance Degree Programs.

    WSU Tri-Cities is throwing a party on July 11 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The free event features activities for kids, food vendors, a beer garden, and door prizes.

    Tuesday, June 30, 2009

    Staying sharp at 71

         What’s a 10-letter word for Alzheimer’s prevention? Crosswords.
         It’s long been known that crossword puzzles, which require daily bursts of mental effort, reduce the chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
         But suppose you don’t know the name of Nick and Nora’s dog? (Asta.) And can’t name a single river in Estonia, much less a seven-letter one? (Alajõgi.)
         For those with a low tolerance for trivia, there’s another option. Community colleges and universities across the country are increasing online offerings, creating new ways for people to pump up their minds.
         At 71, Ron Johnson declines to consider himself old. More... His father is 96, he points out, and still thinks clearly. But Johnson started to worry when he had trouble remembering words. “I was so concerned that I took a memory test from my doctor. And my score was almost perfect,” said Johnson, of Rochester, Washington. What happened, Johnson said, is that his vocabulary slipped away from lack of use, just like any other skill.
         Johnson had left Washington State University in 1960, just a few credits short of graduation. He always regretted not getting a degree. To finish his education, he enrolled in online courses through WSU’s online degree program and is studying social sciences.
         The return to academia has buffed up his vocabulary. “The online courses also returned some of my cognitive powers,” he said, “because I am reading essays and then critically examining them.”
         Neurologists would say Johnson is increasing “plasticity of the brain,” which is the ability of the brain to change through learning. In the last two decades, researchers have found that the brain has the lifelong capacity to reorganize itself by generating new neurons, and forming new connections between existing cells. But, just like muscles need exercise to thrive, the brain needs challenges, whether it’s crosswords or college or figuring out how to program the Tivo.
         Johnson, who lives 350 miles away from WSU Pullman, will come to campus for the graduation ceremony.
         “I want my daughter and granddaughters to surround me when I walk down that aisle,” he said.
         How will he feel at that moment? For some things, there are no words.
         For information on online education, check out local colleges, or go to online.wsu.edu.

    Story by Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

    Monday, June 29, 2009

    Online education gains prestige

    CDPE Dean Muriel Oaks shows the award.

    Online education is taking off. Enrollments are soaring, President Obama plans to create free online courses, and a new study shows online learning has advantages over classroom education.
    But it wasn't always this way. When WSU embraced new technologies in the 1980s, it was going out on a limb. The university's pioneering efforts in the field were honored recently by an institutional achievement award from the National University Telecommunications Network, which showed this video about the university's efforts.