Dean of Houghton College Online purposes to create opportunities for more students to experience Houghton
Houghton College’s residential campus in upstate New York is a close-knit environment where students experience transformative learning in classrooms and in community life. While many students are able to take advantage of the opportunity to attend a physical campus, it’s not practical for everyone.
The demands of a family and work schedule often create barriers for those who want the high-quality education the Houghton experience provides but are unable to attend classes in the traditional format on campus. Houghton College Online creates a bridge for those individuals to experience Houghton’s approach to education while they remain rooted in their everyday lives.
Dean of Houghton College Online Marlene Collins-Blair shared how the online platform of Houghton is designed to give students a very similar experience to attending classes on campus.
“One of the hallmarks of Houghton College Online is that we have deliberately and intentionally created an environment that mirrors the residential campus.” Blair said. “We have replicated the same education with the exception of the platform on which it is delivered.”
Engaged faculty from Houghton College Online are relational with their students and interact with them through online forums and Zoom lectures. Outside of the “classroom,” virtual office hours are available to meet the varying needs of students. Just as the residential campus has systems of care in place to help struggling students succeed, the online program, too, has an array of resources that helps students cultivate academic, spiritual, physical, and emotional health. Faculty are attuned to the needs of their students and personally reach out to those on their roster, so each student has every opportunity to be successful.
Peer interaction is also encouraged and required as students communicate through forums and even group projects through many of their online courses. Many students who have taken online classes before Houghton have shared the added value Houghton provides in their intentionality toward learning through relationships; many commented that this sort of intentionality was not present in other online learning experiences they have engaged with.
Blair shared three distinctives of Houghton College Online:
- Faith based education. The faith formation component of the Houghton experience is not left on the back burner in the online platform. The online curricula are deeply faith based and integrates Christian values throughout the learning process. The goal of Houghton College and Houghton College Online is to provide a Christ-centered education in the liberal arts and sciences for students from diverse traditions and economic backgrounds so they can be equipped to lead and labor as scholar servants in changing the world.
- Academic excellence. Online classes are held to the same standards as classes offered on campus. The same content is delivered and the outcomes are the same. Students are expected to be at the same level of excellence. Courses are vetted by the same process that the main campus courses go through.
- Student focused. Faculty at Houghton College Online care about their students. They are not there to provide retinue. Faculty supports students and will pray for those who want prayer. A community is fostered among the students taking classes through online forums and zoom video conferencing.
Though Houghton College Online has only been available in its current form for three years, the program has catalyzed students around the world, and has proven an excellent vehicle for students who want a community that stays with them after their online education experience. This fall, two new master’s programs will be launched and there are plans to add more programs and extend an opportunity for the “Houghton experience” to more students.
To learn more about Houghton College Online visit https://www.houghton.edu/online/.