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University Corner with Mark Ellis, PH.D

Professor and History Department Chair
University of Nebraska at Kearney
Q: Please provide a brief overview of
your school’s history, mission and curriculum?
 
A: The University of Nebraska at Kearney
is a comprehensive public university,
accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
of the North Central Association
of Colleges and Schools, and one of four
institutions in the University of Nebraska
system. UNK offers over 40 online programs
and 400 online courses making
it convenient for active military, veterans,
and military spouses to earn their
degrees.
 
Q: What is your school’s background in
military education?
 
A: The University of Nebraska at Kearney
proudly partners with the U.S. Army
to host the UNK Army ROTC program.
UNK has served military-connected students
throughout its over 100 years of
existence. The Office of Financial Aid
employs student workers who are eligible
to receive military education benefits
to serve as Veteran Service Representatives.
They assist the students and their
families with questions and provide assistance
with the process of obtaining their
benefits.
 
Q: What makes your school unique in
the benefits and programs you offer to
military servicemembers?
 
A: UNK is unique because of its small
class atmosphere on a major state university
campus. Students receive individualized
guidance on military education
benefits, academic and career goals, and
policies of the university. There is a
strong sense of community in the online
environment, because faculty and staff
are easily accessible.
 
Q: What online degree and certificate
programs do you offer and how do these
distance learning programs fit in with
the lives of active duty and transitioning
military personnel?
 
A: Among the top online programs at
UNK, the Master of Arts in History serves
over 250 students in 42 states. A few
of the other online programs include
graduate degrees in Biology, Music, Art,
and Teacher Education. Undergraduate
degrees are available in Criminal
Justice, Business, Organizational Communication,
and Sociology. Our courses
are offered asynchronously, meaning
that while professors have deadlines
for assignments, students can work on
assignments as they fit best into their
schedules.
Our small class sizes allow students
to build working relationships with their
professors. Our instructors are willing
to work with students whose assignment
submissions are sometimes delayed by
military service. For example, a history
professor was contacted by one of his
active military students who was concerned
about missing a deadline because
he was flying a mission at the same time
an assignment was due. The professor
accommodated the student’s need and
noted that we know our students have
unique situations and being flexible is an
important part of our online program.
 
Q: What are the most pressing tasks and
issues that your school currently faces?
 
A: In relation to Veterans Services, the
most pressing task is assisting students
with completion of the application for
military education benefits so they receive
their entitlement as soon as possible. We
are creating a Student Veterans Center
where military students can receive academic
and career support, and network,
study, and socialize with their peers.
 
Q: How has your school positioned itself
to serve military students?
 
A: UNK has a Military and Veteran Services
Office with a full-time director to focus on
the needs of military students and offer
centralized services. UNK participates in
the Yellow Ribbon program and policies
are in place to support students called to
active duty. The Student Veterans Organization
(SVO) will meet for the first time in
early spring, and the Military and Veteran
Services Advisory Board is also planned for
implementation during the spring semester.
 
Q: What is your school doing to keep up
with growing technologies and opportunities
related to distance learning?
 
A: Our team of instructional designers
and video engineers spend time researching
the latest technology and test those
that may have impact to make sure that
we have the best instructional technology
and services available to our faculty and
students. They also spend time researching
the latest research in pedagogy to ensure
that our faculty not onaly have the latest
technology, but also the pedagogical models
that create effective and collaborative
learning environments. The experience for
the student is the most important aspect in
online learning. Technology should open
the doors to those opportunities and allow
students to focus on the most important
aspects of learning, not spend time trying
to learn the technology just to participate.
Ease of use and effectiveness of learning
are two of the main goals of the eCampus
staff. Keeping up with the advances in distance
education allows our faculty to focus
on their content and teaching instead of
technology. 
Last modified on Wednesday, 11 January 2017 10:14

Additional Info

  • Issue: 11
  • Volume: 10
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