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With JSC and LSC unification in mind, Bobbi Jo Carter, associate dean of distance education at JSC, hopes to increase course offerings.

JSC’s external degree program combined with its online distance learning program accounts for nearly one third of JSC’s enrollment. Currently, LSC does not have any sort of distance learning program.

Carter noted that she would like to see the distance education program almost becoming a third campus in some sense. “With unification, we will have JSC, LSC, and then the virtual campus,” said Carter. “Through the virtual campus, we would be able to offer programs from both campuses.”

Carter says that right now the distance programs that are offered have been approved by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. “Right now, the college has accreditation approval from the accreditation committee, meaning that we can offer everything we have right now,” said Carter. “Once we are unified, my hope is that we will be able to take some of their [LSC] programs and put them through the accreditation process so that they can be delivered in a distance learning format.”

Being given this opportunity, Carter said the distance program will better meet the needs of students. “The student body has changed over time, a lot of things are much more different than what they were 20 years ago,” says Carter. “Just being able to present this as an offering to students as something that they might be looking for, and being able to do it more efficiently and effectively, is a great thing.”

Carter noted that she has heard from people across Vermont that they are not quite getting the skillsets from students that they are in search of. “For us to be able to work with community and business owners, we can hopefully better deliver the instruction that employers are looking for in students,” said Carter. “Distance education allows us to be able to do that on a much broader scale because it isn’t just going to be students who can go to either JSC or LSC; it’s anybody who has an internet connection.”

Carter said she already has some meetings set up to begin taking some of LSC’s existing certification courses and placing them online. “They offer certification courses, and if we could put some of these online as soon as we can, this will provide us with some idea of how we might be able to work the logistics involved with everything as soon as we can,” said Carter.

When the two programs end up fully combining, Carter noted that she is not sure what will happen to the overall fund distributions for the single combined distance learning program. Given the size and overall financial contribution that the JSC distance learning programs provides for the school right now, it may prove to be a controversial topic.