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Online distance learning has brought Americans increasing access to postsecondary education, and many of Nebraska's schools are adopting this trend by offering online courses of their own. Explore the diversity of educational resources available to e-learners through online colleges in Nebraska by researching degree programs and coursework.

Online Colleges in Nebraska

Technology has revolutionized just about every aspect of our daily lives, from commerce to communication and nearly everything in between. Most of us talk, shop, read, share and work much differently than we did even 10 years ago, and the landscape of American higher education has been similarly transformed, with new opportunities for distance learning cropping up all the time.

The state of Nebraska has readily embraced this shift, and it's easy to see why. With a population density that ranks 43rd in the U.S. (census.gov), students in rural or outlying areas could use distance learning as an alternative to relocating or commuting to a university far from their home town.

Online education has granted many Americans unprecedented access to postsecondary training, both academic and vocational, and in doing so has reshaped the job market. Once considered a dubious trend, online education is now a bona fide alternative to brick-and-mortar colleges and universities. Educators at more than two-thirds of surveyed colleges now insist that online course offerings are critical to their long-term strategies, according to the Sloan Consortium (sloanconsortium.com, 2010).

Trends in Online Schools in Nebraska

Students who live in rural areas can be at a disadvantage when it comes time to select a college or university. In the past they may have had to choose between time-consuming commutes, expensive relocation, or forgoing higher education altogether. Along with several other Midwestern states, Nebraska is home to hundreds of rural towns with populations fewer than 1,000 people that often have few, if any, local institutions of higher learning. While Nebraska boasts a strong state university and college system, in addition to community and vocational colleges, many of these schools are located in big cities.

In the fall of 2011, the University of Nebraska president and other state leaders launched the Nebraska Virtual Partnership to help increase learning opportunities for students in the state. This included a virtual high school, as well as a central website that could provide information about online learning opportunities in the state. One component of the program, the Virtual Scholar program, provides a limited number of college course enrollments to high school students in Nebraska. The idea is to expand online access to education and help better prepare students for college and the future.

College Degrees in Nebraska

Despite having one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country -- as of November 2012 it was just 3.7 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov/lau/) -- Nebraska's percentage of residents who hold bachelor's degrees is lower than the national average (quickfacts.census.gov). This seeming discrepancy can likely be attributed to an economy that includes unskilled industries such as agriculture and the service sector, but Nebraska is also home to several industry clusters with growth outpacing the number of college graduates needed to fill them.

According to a 2010 assessment by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, Nebraska is experiencing a demand for highly-skilled workers in the areas of bioscience, engineering, health science and computer occupations (neded.org). CareerOneStop, a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, shows that some of the fastest-growing occupations in the state requiring a four-year degree are those for meeting, convention, and event planners; interpreters and translators; market research analysts and marketing specialists; and software developers. Potential growth in these fields from 2010 to 2020 was projected at above 30 percent, and students interested in these fields may be able to find relevant coursework through online colleges in Nebraska.

Online College in Nebraska

Students in Nebraska interested in earning their degrees online can find a variety of offerings from more than 30 in-state campuses. These schools represent the full breadth of Nebraska's higher education system, and range from top-ranked University of Nebraska schools to state and community colleges. Several of the state's well-known private schools have also made their offerings available online.

Perhaps most impressive is that the entire University of Nebraska system has gotten on board with distance learning. Students at the University of Omaha may take both undergraduate and graduate courses online, and benefit from the university's blended approach, which allows individuals to earn hybrid degrees through a combination of distance learning and classroom instruction (unomaha.edu).

The University of Nebraska at Kearney offers a selection of both bachelor's and master's degrees online (unk.edu). Students enrolled in the University of Nebraska at Lincoln's distance learning program can pursue content areas ranging from engineering management to advanced horticulture. The University of Nebraska Medical Center also offers a radiography program to distance learners (unmc.edu).

Sources:
Batelle Technology Partnership Practice, Growing Jobs, Industries, and Talent, 2010
Nebraska Virtual Partnership
Nebraska QuickFacts
Sloan Consortium, Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United State, 2012
University of Nebraska Kearny
University of Nebraska Medical Center
University of Nebraska Omaha
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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