Friday, October 28, 2011

Seattle hotel offers great view of future

Burl BattersbyBurl Battersby got sidetracked into success.
 He wanted to be a teacher. One day, when he was working at an Arizona hotel, the food and beverage director came over. Instead of studying to become a teacher, the director said, why don’t you take hotel management courses? If you do, the hotel will pay for your classes.
     That was nearly 20 years ago. Burl Battersby stayed in the hotel business. He moved around, got promoted. He eventually became director of banquets at the Westin St. Francis in San Francisco, and is now the director of Six Sigma at the Sheraton Seattle. He also enrolled in WSU Online.
     “Having a degree from a renowned institution like WSU carries more gravitas than a degree from a lesser-known university,” he said. “The instruction has been world-class, and my interactions with fellow students have been phenomenal. ”
     But Battersby isn’t studying hotel management. Or More...even business. He’s finishing a humanities degree with a minor in Asian history.
     Battersby graduates from WSU Online this spring and will then join WSU’s online EMBA program.
     The EMBA will help him in his current profession. Not coincidentally, it’s also the next step toward a Ph.D. And he’ll need that Ph.D. when he finally becomes a college professor.
     Battersby is already warming up for his new life as an educator. He earned his Teaching English as a Second Language certification, and is leading twice-weekly English courses for associates in the Sheraton Seattle cafeteria.
     “We have a lot of associates from China and the Philippines and many wanted to email relatives,” he said. “Now we do Facebook, or QQ in China. So they’re learning both English and basic computer skills. It’s a lot of fun to see the joy on their faces when they receive their first email or find a family member they haven’t seen in years.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

Spokane woman wants to keep it real

Emily photo-use thisChoosing an online degree program came down to one word: Legitimacy.
     “The fact that WSU’s online degree is considered the same as its on-campus degree is very important to me,” said Emily M. Carstens Namie as she sipped a 16-ounce triple Americano at a Spokane coffeehouse. “It’s about legitimacy. I wanted something legitimate, and for me that’s a real school with a real campus.”
     But a “real school” means more than alumni networks, football games and Cougar pride.
     “I also questioned how well other diplomas are received by real-world employers,” she said. “I just don’t think they’re quite as credible.”
     Emily is from The Dalles, Ore., and earned her associate’s degree from Columbia Gorge Community College. She moved to Spokane in 1998, worked in finance and human resources, then launched a private practice as a counselor/Reiki master. She was also a staffing coordinator and a legal assistant before deciding to push the boundaries of her life. She applied at WSU Online.
     “I was highly impressed with the degree of professionalism I received from the moment I inquired about the program,” she said, “and with how friendly and helpful people were.” More...     When she’s not busy maintaining her 3.93 GPA or working as a senator for WSU Online’s student government, Emily is learning to climb mountains and mentoring at-risk teens. She previously volunteered at Spokane’s East Central Community Center’s Starfish program, and still mentors teenagers.
     “My teenage years were tough and there were people in my life who helped me through it,” she said. “This is my way of paying it forward.” Emily has just begun a new volunteer role, answering calls at Spokane Mental Health’s First Call for Help hotline.
     Emily graduates in December 2012 with a B.A. in social sciences with an emphasis in psychology. Next on her educational to-do list: obtaining a master’s and a Ph.D. in forensic psychology.
     While she hasn’t settled on a specific career yet—“I’m letting the path unfold in front of me”—she has an excellent compass.
     “I want to add value to the people who come into my life. It’s a spiritual principle that I try to adhere to.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

Winter Session will heat up your holidays

snowmanCold weather. Jammed stores. Incessant holiday music.

How would you like to avoid all that while accelerating your education? This winter, you can enroll in WSU Online’s Winter Session, which lets you earn three credits in three weeks over the holiday break.

Winter Session runs from December 17 to January 8. Eleven courses are offered. You can take only one, due to the time demands. Your academic consultant can help you choose the right one.

Completing three credits in three weeks will be challenging. But you can get a head start. You’ll be given access to course content the day after you register. Registration opens Nov. 7, and the course fee is the same as standard tuition rates.

So, while others are clogging the mall parking lot, you’ll be at home, peacefully curled up with your computer, earning your degree.

For more information, and a list of courses, please go to

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We’re throwing a party for our students

DSC_3099Join fellow students, friends, family and WSU Online staff for a party at 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at the Silver Cloud Hotel Seattle-Stadium, 1046 First Ave South, in Seattle. The party includes free food, socializing, and the chance to give Butch T. Cougar a high-five.

At 7:30 p.m., you can walk across the street and watch the Cougs battle Oregon State on CenturyLink Field. Here's a link to ticket sales.

The deadline to register is 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, so if you’re a current student and want to come, please let us know. Here’s more information.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Local newspaper covers WSU Online

swindellWSU Professor Samantha Swindell discusses online education.

By Katie Roenigk/Moscow-Pullman Daily News

     There is a growing group of Washington State University students who rarely set foot on school property.
     They may not even live near Pullman, Spokane, Vancouver or the Tri-Cities while taking classes. They are members of the university's fifth campus - the one that exists primarily online.
     David Cillay, executive director for WSU's Center for Distance and Professional Education, said more students should have access to online courses at WSU in the near future.
     "What we're really hoping to do is grow our online program mix," Cillay said this week. "We're looking at what we offer on campus and finding ways to move those online." More...     The effort is not motivated by WSU's budget, he said, though online courses could bring in more students and therefore more money. The university is simply looking to reach out to more Washington residents who may not be able to relocate to campus in order to get a degree.
     "The mission of the land grant institution is to provide access to education," Cillay said. "Online education seems to be the 21st century rethinking of the land grant mission."
     Through online courses, students like Erica Vieira of Seattle are able to attend a trusted university without spending time away from their families. Vieira - a 32-year-old wife and mother of three - will earn her bachelor's degree in human development through WSU this December, and she only has been to Pullman a few times.
     That does not mean she has not felt involved in campus life. Two years into her studies, Vieira was elected vice president of the university's online student government. Every couple of months, the group meets with leaders of WSU's other campuses, and Vieira said e-students plan gatherings with one another as well. This month, she will join other online students at an organized gathering before a football game in Seattle.
"You never have to travel too far, if you feel you're missing out," Vieira said.

Teaching the teachers
     The transition to an online classroom requires work from professors as well as students, and Cillay said many WSU instructors are learning new strategies to enhance the virtual forum, in part through the Excellence in Teaching Online certificate introduced this month through the CDPE. The self-paced online course was piloted last spring to familiarize professors with technologies like online discussion boards and live chat rooms that often are incorporated in the e-classroom.
     Though she has been teaching online since 2001, Samantha Swindell, a clinical associate professor of psychology, said she plans to earn her ETO certificate.
"New technology is constantly becoming available that can allow us to do things we weren't able to do just a few years ago," she said.
     When she first taught remotely, Swindell said, students purchased packets of video casettes to watch on their own, then they took exams under the supervision of a proctor.
     "(The professor) was basically there to answer questions," Swindell said.
Now, online teaching is considered another skill set for professors. Swindell said she makes sure her graduate students get some experience in the online setting, and her department is developing some new courses that will allow faculty members to get involved as well.
     "It's not going away," Swindell said of online instruction. "The ability to teach online is a very marketable skill."
Students should be able to receive comparable education even if they are not on campus, Swindell said. She advised professors to "be present" in the classroom, even if it is virtual.
     "Make sure the students know you're there and engaged," Swindell said. "Check in regularly, be responsive to e-mails, and just communicate to your students that you're invested in their success."
Reprinted courtesy of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

Monday, October 3, 2011

‘You and my professors cared so much’

wendy mauWe love it when students stay in touch after graduation. Here’s a note Academic Consultant Maria Greaney Curry, below, recently received from Wendy Mau, above, who majored in social sciences.

The mail carrier just delivered to me one of Maria Greaney Currythe most precious envelopes in my life – my WSU diploma. I smiled when I looked at the words: Magna Cum Laude. Again, thank you for your help and encouragement. It meant a lot to me.

Although I finished my degree through an online program, I learned so much more and it felt so much more personal than my other school experiences because you and my professors cared so much about their students.

In the past three years, I worked very hard and all my focus was on studying. I didn’t think much about the idea that WSU was my school. But now that I’ve graduated and have some time to breathe fresh air, I am proud to say that WSU is my school.