For careers in corrections and criminal justice, online degree programs at EKU are particularly rewarding. Eastern Kentucky University has prepared students in these fields for more than 50 years, and the EKU College of Justice and Safety is considered a national leader.
We asked Dr. Betsy Matthews, coordinator and instructor with the EKU Online corrections and juvenile justice bachelor’s degree program to share her thoughts on EKU’s exceptional online degree programs.
How do you compare online learning and the traditional on-campus classroom experience?
I was initially resistant to the idea of online learning, but have come to realize that great things can happen online! I love the fact that we can reach students who might not have pursued their education otherwise because of family and work obligations that kept them from coming to campus. Students in our online program tend to be very committed to their education. I actually think that the critical and creative thinking done online often exceeds that done in the traditional classroom.
As an instructor, what do you do to help your students feel engaged?
Discussion boards are a staple of online learning. I often use them as a platform for debating critical corrections and juvenile justice issues. Students become masters at developing arguments for or against certain policies.
I also like to show connections between what we study in class and what students are experiencing or will be experiencing when they are employed in the field. I had a student who recently completed a practicum in a juvenile detention center. She was excited to report that she felt confident in her work there because she had actually learned about and performed several of the key tasks as part of a case study assignment.
Why do you believe students choose EKU?
At EKU we can provide a more personalized college experience due to lower than average faculty to student ratios. This is extremely important given students’ diverse backgrounds and needs.
We use a combination of full-time and adjunct faculty in the program. These faculty have a variety of experiences that they bring to the online classroom, helping students to explore issues through multiple lenses. Additionally, our faculty collaborate with instructional designers who work to make the course content visually appealing, easy to navigate, and interactive. These factors, combined, set our program apart from other programs.
Do you have any advice for how students can succeed in their online coursework?
Carefully consider the time and discipline online learning requires. Our online curriculum mirrors that offered in the traditional classroom – there are no shortcuts! It’s a big investment, with big rewards!