Online Education

Mom with special needs child perseveres to get her Drury degree

“One night, I pulled over off of I-70 at a Barnes & Noble in Kansas City, and I used their Wi-Fi in my car to take a forensic psychology test. Another time, camping with my daughter, I wrote my final essay from a tent in the rain in Knob Noster State Park, a laundry basket was my desk,” said Dana Vansell, a May 2013 Drury graduate from the College of Continuing Professional Studies.

Dana with her daughter Grace at graduation

Dana Vansell earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in May at the age of 37. Besides being a non-traditional student, Vansell faced other challenges: she’s a single mom and her ten-year-old daughter, Grace, has a rare congenital birth defect called laryngeal cleft that causes her to aspirate anything she eats or drinks.

Living north of Sedalia in the countryside, and with a high needs child; Vansell needed flexibility in her education schedule. That’s why, when she decided to go back to college to earn her bachelor’s in December 2011, she enrolled in Drury’s online psychology program. Her daughter’s medical treatments and surgeries forced Vansell to travel to Kansas City and St. Louis often during her Drury college career. That’s why her car, and anywhere else she could find, became Vansell’s classroom.

The experience not only served to educate Vansell, but her daughter, as well, “When I learned astronomy, my daughter learned astronomy,” Vansell said. “She’d make note cards and quiz me.”

Grace had been so involved in her mother’s education that she asked to be released early from the hospital so she could pin her mother at her Alpha Sigma Lambda honors society ceremony for CCPS students.

Vansell isn’t done with education. She recently said goodbye to friends and family and moved to Republic with her daughter, which will be home base as she pursues Drury’s one-year accelerated Master of Arts in Communication. She begins taking classes in the fall. “Grace and I are both excited about this opportunity for a fresh start,” Vansell said.

Eventually, when she’s done with school, Vansell would like to combine her education and life experience to become a child life specialist and a marriage and family therapist, “I want to work with families who are going to have procedures, who have lost children and work with families who are experiencing grief,” Vansell said. “Moving to Springfield and starting a master’s program is closure and a new start for me. I’ve been through a rough marriage and I have a high needs child, I want to make sure I help others so that the things I’ve gone through haven’t been in vain.”

###

Story by Mark Miller, associate director of marketing and communications.

Drury’s Online Paralegal Program ranked as one of the best in the nation

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 11, 2013 — The Open Education Database (OEDB) listed Drury University’s Paralegal Program third in its listing of the top online paralegal programs in the nation. View a complete listing of the top online paralegal programs in the country at OEDB.org.

“Drury is pleased that its robust online educational offerings are being recognized by an independent third party,” said Steve Hynds, Drury’s director of online education. “Paralegal is one of the 18 Drury degrees that can be completed entirely online, and Drury works to ensure that our online offerings match the rigor and value expected of a Drury education.”

The Open Education Database (OEDb) recognizes the top U.S. colleges that offer online learning for undergraduate degree programs in a variety of fields, including paralegal.

The Open Education Database says that it, “Is dedicated to helping students navigate their open and online education options. OEDb features an open courseware directory, degree program directories, school profiles, distance learning advice, and rankings of the top online schools in the country.”

For more information on OEDB, contact Amy Tran at atran@oedb.org.

Media Contact: Steve Hynds, Drury’s Director of Online Education, Office: (417) 873-7406, E-mail: shynds@drury.edu

###

Drury University to offer online degree completion in Northwest Arkansas in 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Nov. 12, 2012 — Drury University will offer two online degree completion programs beginning in January 2013 aimed at students in Northwest Arkansas. Drury will have an online education center in Bentonville, Ark., near Northwest Arkansas Community College, to serve those students.

Drury will host an informational meeting on Thursday, Nov. 15, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville. The meeting will be in Peterson Auditorium of the Shewmaker Global Business Development Center located at 900 Southeast Eagle Way in Bentonville. Drury staff will be available at the meeting to answer questions and assist with applications.

Drury will offer two different degree options that can be completed in two years and entirely online. One degree is a Bachelor of Business Administration. The other offering is a degree in leadership studies with a formal title of: Bachelor of Science in organizational communication and development.

For more information call Katy Brandes, Online Recruiter, Toll Free: (800) 877-90DRURY, Office: (417) 873-7336, Email: kbrandes@drury.edu or go to www.drury.edu/nwaonline.

###

A real Drury education in a virtual world

Have you ever dreamed of owning an island? Drury University is living the dream and using it to deliver education to its students. Since 2009, Drury has operated a Drury Island in Second Life, a 3D virtual world that is free for users.

Steve Hynds, director of online education at Drury, has been teaching online since 2000. In 2009, he was at a conference exploring ways to more efficiently train faculty for online teaching. He discovered Second Life and became interested in its potential with college students because of the immersive qualities of virtual worlds.

Drury's Shewmaker Gates on its island in Second Life

Drury offers five courses in Second Life each semester. Student’s avatars attend class on Drury Island . The entire course is conducted in Second Life in virtual classroom space that may or may not look like traditional classroom space. Professors and students talk with each other through headsets, and, while they share the same virtual space, the students and professors may be hundreds or thousands of miles apart.

Second Life courses can include lectures, presentations, and virtual field trips. In the social psychology course she teaches, Jackie Welborn has the students conduct social research. She tells them to change their avatar’s gender, race or appearance and then socialize on the mainland to see if non-Drury avatars in Second Life treat them differently.

“Everything in Second Life has been created by it residents. You’re only limited by your imagination,” said Hynds.

Hynds teaches the introductory course students take to become familiar with Second Life. The technology removes some education barriers, such as distance, for non-campus based learners. Drury has found that younger students – digital natives, so to speak – are quick to embrace Second Life.

The medium could allow a student in California to take a class on the civil rights movement from a professor in Alabama as they re-create the walk across the bridge in Selma.

###

Story originally written by Michelle Apuzzio for the New American Colleges & Universities’ Newsletter

Drury student plans to make a difference in her community

Springfield, Mo., July 23, 2012 – A native of Licking, Mo., Anna Kaley recalls a time in 2008 when she knew she was ready for a change. She wanted to go back to school and earn a degree that would enable her to make a difference in her community. Kaley readily admits that she was a little overwhelmed at the thought of returning to school. “I hadn’t been in school since 1987, and believe me, the classroom has changed,” said Kaley. “The campus director and the instructors were very helpful as I acclimated to the new learning environment.”

Anna Kaley by Sesha Shannon

Now in her fourth year, Kaley has come a long way. She regularly interfaces with Blackboard, an online learning management system used by Drury faculty, and she actually prefers Drury’s online courses. “Because I currently work two jobs, the online classes work really well with my schedule,” said Kaley.

Kaley already has an associate’s degree in business administration and is pursuing one in criminal justice. She’s looking ahead to graduating with a bachelor’s in business administration in 2013. Kaley is interested in pursuing a career in the field of economic development. While writing a paper for one of her classes, Kaley met Ron Reed, the economic developer for the city of Houston, Mo. This year, Kaley interviewed with Reed and secured an internship. “It is through my internship that I have realized what career I want to pursue after I graduate,” said Kaley. “I love what I do, and I can give back to the community.” Currently, Kaley is conducting surveys with local businesses, collecting insights on how they have sustained through the last several years of economic challenge. Kaley said the experience has been invaluable.

“I always tell people that you’ll never go wrong with furthering your education. Drury has been one of the most positive aspects of my life,” said Kaley. “It has opened doors and given me opportunities that I would not have otherwise had.”

###

Story by Jann Holland, executive director of marketing and communications at Drury University.