In support of the Mission, the FY11 Strategic Plan addresses one of the barriers that faces the diverse population in Sauk’s rural setting: “Expand the number of courses and programs that can be completed through alternative delivery methods, to expand student access” (Objective 1.3). Sauk provides a range of services and options that help increase opportunities for students to participate in education:
Diverse Learning Environments
The college offers multiple learning environments for students by offering courses in a variety of different modalities:
Non-traditional schedules: From its beginnings, Sauk has had a regular schedule of night classes. However, several other forms of non-traditional scheduling have been implemented in response to student needs:
Saturday classes: Starting in FY03, the types of courses offered on Saturday mornings were expanded in an attempt to offer a weekend alternative. Saturday classes were discontinued after FY08 because other campus resources, like the Learning Resource Center, were not open on weekends. A 2007 scheduling survey confirmed that students preferred other alternate scheduling options.
Friday classes: As a result of the 2007 scheduling survey and the college’s shift to Monday-Thursday class schedules, some classes are scheduled as Friday-only. This plan has the benefits of one-day-a-week scheduling, with all campus support offices open and available for the students.
Eight-week courses: Selected courses are offered in a condensed eight-week format. Currently such courses are scheduled during the final weeks of the 16-week semester, allowing for late entry by students who were unable to begin the regular semester and alternative hours for students who withdrew from a course.
Dual credit - Sauk has participated in the state-regulated dual credit program since 1998, allowing high school students to earn high school and college credit simultaneously. Classes are conducted at high schools and the regional career center, using either their qualified instructors or one from Sauk. (Note: The drop in numbers in Figure 3iii below results from Sauk's adherence to the enactment of more stringent state rules and guidelines for enrollment eligibility.)
Video conferencing - Compressed video technology allows Sauk faculty to interact with students at a high school or another community college as they would in a traditional classroom. This format has allowed low-enrollment, on-campus courses to gain the students needed to be viable. Although increased internet course availability appears to be decreasing the need for video, the format plays a critical role in partnered criminal justice degrees with neighboring Highland Community College.
Internet access: The extensive availability and support of online offerings has allowed Sauk to expand access to learning in several different ways:
Online courses: From the early 1990’s, the college recognized the potential for increased student access through internet courses and offered its first such course in 1993. Through support and training provided by IT, the number of qualified instructors has grown and Sauk has about 70 online courses available.
Online certificates: As of May, 2010, HLC has approved online certificates in marketing and supervisory management, the first complete programs to be 100% attainable online.
Internet partnerships: The college effectively uses the availability of internet course offerings to expand student’s access to programs outside of the community:
ILCCO – Sauk is a member of Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO), which has developed an Internet Course Exchange system where member colleges can share online courses. If an online course is not available at Sauk, counselors and advisors can search other ILCCO members to find the course. The Sauk student pays Sauk tuition.
NIOIN - Northern Illinois Online Initiative for Nursing (NIOIN) was launched in 2009 by four community colleges and eight regional hospitals as a hybrid program for nursing students. Students study the same course material online, but complete clinicals at their local hospitals.
Agriculture degrees - In 2010, Sauk partnered with University of Illinois to offer agriculture degrees. Combining online coursework and periodic on-site learning sessions at U of I agriculture facilities, Sauk students are able to complete most of the degree locally.
The graph below (see Figure 3iii) shows the trends for the credit hours that have been generated by some of these different modes of class delivery. Although the increase in online credit hours is significant, no research has been done to ascertain whether these are additional students or merely an alternate delivery selected by student enrolled in face-to-face classes.