September 15, 1999
CONTACT: Jeanne Oswald
(609) 292-4310

NJVU Focus on Faculty Will Enhance Distance Learning

The New Jersey Virtual University begins the fall semester with a new look, new resources for students and faculty members, and a statewide faculty development initiative to increase the quality and quantity of online courses and programs in New Jersey.

The NJVU website, www.njvu.org, was launched by Governor Christine Todd Whitman in January to provide a user-friendly index of over 1,000 distance learning courses and programs available through 42 participating New Jersey higher education institutions. The redesigned site features enhanced search capabilities to make it even easier for users to find the offerings that best meet their education and training needs.

The expanded NJVU website also provides information to help potential students determine whether distance learning is suited to their educational needs and goals. It includes an interactive questionnaire to help users assess whether online courses are right for them, as well as general information about distance learning quality.

NJVU's new Faculty Center provides valuable online resources for faculty developing web-based and web-enhanced courses. It serves as a clearinghouse for materials promoting the effective use of technology in teaching and learning. In addition, Governor Whitman earmarked $500,000 for a three-pronged faculty development initiative to enhance the quality of online teaching and learning and increase the number of courses available.

The first component of this statewide effort is a series of regional workshops for college and university administrators involved in policy and planning for faculty development and technical support for online education. The dates of the workshops are September 15 at Camden County College in Blackwood, September 16 at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, and September 17 at New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

The second phase of the faculty development initiative will be campus-based training sessions for faculty who want to begin teaching courses online or expand their current capabilities to use the Internet as an effective teaching and learning tool. The training will be customized to meet varying institutional and faculty needs. The final component will be an online "how to" course focused on designing and teaching a web-based course.

"New Jersey colleges and universities already offer an outstanding range of distance education opportunities. By supporting faculty efforts to design effective online courses and make the best possible use of state-of-the-art technology, this faculty development initiative will take us to the next level," said Governor Whitman. "Together with the enhanced NJVU website, it builds on New Jersey's commitment to higher education technology and continuing efforts to move our state to the forefront of distance education."

Each of the courses and programs included in the NJVU index is offered by an accredited New Jersey college or university, which is responsible for all aspects of its distance learning offerings, including the granting of credits, certificates, and degrees. Visitors to the NJVU website have conducted over 56,000 searches of courses and programs since its launch eight months ago.

"New Jersey Virtual University provides a gateway to distance learning resources for people in all lines of business and all walks of life, across the state and around the world," said William M. Freeman, CEO of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey, and a member of both the Commission on Higher Education and the Virtual University Design Team. "With a new emphasis on faculty development, the number and quality of course offerings will continue to grow, responding to the diverse needs of lifelong learners seeking flexible and convenient ways to access higher education."

More information about NJVU, the online index of offerings, a list of participating institutions, and the online Faculty Center are located at www.njvu.org.
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