Appendix F: Distance Education Program Being Planned

Back to Distance Education Programs List

SUBMIT DATE:01/31/2012 
Constituent Institution:Fayetteville State University 
CIP Discipline Specialty Title:Teacher Education and Professional Development, Specific Levels and Methods, Other 
CIP Discipline Specialty Number:13.1299 
Exact Title of the Proposed Program:Master of Education in Special Education 
Exact Degree Abbreviation:MEd 
Date of Initiation:08/15/2012 
Will this sequence of courses be completely individual access (e.g., Internet, videocassette)? YES 
If "yes," what will be the mode of delivery?Blackboard 9.1 
If "no," list proposed sites.


If short-based, length of time to complete the prog (e.g., 1 year, 18 mos.):NA 

SACS/COC substantive change questions (1=Procedure One; 2=Procedure Two)

Site-based (where the instructor is present):

Is the institution initiating instruction where the student may earn more than 25% and less than 50% of credits toward a degree at a site 30 miles or more from the campus? (2) NO 
Is the institution initiating an (additional) off-campus site at which students may earn at least 50% of an educational program? (1) NO 
Is the institution adding significantly different degree programs at a currently approved site? (2) NO 
Distance learning (where instructor and student are geographically separated):
Is the institution offering its first credit courses via technology-based instruction by which students can obtain at least 25% of credits toward a degree program? (2) NO 
Is the institution expanding a previously reported program from less than 50% of credits to 50% or more of a degree program? (2) YES 
Is the institution adding a significantly different program from previously reported programs offered via technology-based instruction? (2) NO 
Does this action constitute a substantive change? If so, by what date should SACS be notified? 08/15/2012 
1. Briefly describe the proposed program and intended audience.


The Department of Middle Grades, Secondary and Specialized Subjects in the School of Education at Fayetteville State University seeks approval to offer the existing Master of Education in Special Education program with concentrations in Learning Disabilities (LD), Intellectual Disabilities (ID) and Emotional Disabilities (SED) as an online program with more than 50% of its course work online. The MEd program in SPED has been offered at FSU since 2000. With growing emphasis on providing online access to courses for teachers who want to become master special educators and who find traditional face to face course work constraining, an increasing number of courses toward the degree have been placed online. This program is now prepared to request authorization to offer more than 50% of its course work online through the Blackboard (9.1) platform. The primary target population is teachers who want a master’s degree in Special Education and advanced licensure in Special Education (LD, ID or SED). This is an on-going program with an established record of graduates that is moving to a predominance of online course offerings. Instructional delivery methods include online courses through Blackboard which include online lectures, group discussions, anchored projects, tests, and individual activities. In addition, there are two to three (depending upon entering credentials) field experiences that are web enhanced and include instructor supervised contact hours in special education or related settings, group seminars and individualized projects and activities.

2. Describe the proposed instructional delivery systems (e.g., on-site instruction by faculty, interactive video, Internet, etc.).


Instructional delivery methods are primarily utilized via online courses through Blackboard 9.1 and include online lectures, group discussions, anchored projects, tests, and individual activities. The program also includes web enhanced and blended course delivery. In addition, there are field experiences that are web enhanced and include instructor supervised contact hours in special education or related settings, group seminars and individualized projects and activities.

3. Describe need for the program (referencing results of surveys or special studies).

The MEd program in Special Education was developed to allow teachers with existing licensure in SPED or other areas of education to achieve both a master’s degree and graduate level teaching licensure while they continue to teach in order to provide support and services to students with disabilities in the schools of NC and beyond. Providing a predominately online venue for course work for program candidates will expand the opportunities for accessing the MEd program to adults whose lifestyle requirements would make traditional methods of taking courses difficult or prohibitive. The primary target population is post baccalaureate persons (teachers) who want a graduate degree that leads to advanced licensure in LD, ID or SED.

A field test of online courses developed for use in the proposed program conducted by the area of Special Education demonstrated a viable interest in an MEd program in Special Education offered predominately online.

 The Need for Special Education Teachers
The need for special educators is always in the forefront of teacher needs surveys , as evidenced by a US Office of Education (Office of Postsecondary Education) publication (2011) in which Special Education teachers was cited as a high need area from 2005-2012.* In addition, students currently identified as having special needs in the nations’ school is at 13.1% (2009-10) of the school population (remaining near its all time high level of 13.8% in 2004-5) *(Scull, J, & Winkler, A.M.,2011). The actual numbers of students identified across all categories of disabilities rose from 6,295,816 in 2000-1 to 6,480,540 in 2009-10. The numbers of students in some categories of disability continue to rise dramatically.

 With the economic downturn that has affected many counties surrounding the University, people with advanced degrees in SPED have a better chance of stable job conditions than those who are lateral entry or even baccalaureate level licensed. These and other motivating factors have given rise to the need for accessible graduate degree programs in the area of Special Education.

*Scull, J., & Winkler, A.M. (2011). Shifting Trends in Special Education, Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Retrieved from:

*U.S. Department of Education, Office of Postsecondary Education. (2011). Teacher Shortage Area Nationwide List. Retrieved from:

The Need for Online Educational Opportunities

Research in the professional literature related to online education in higher education has resulted in some interesting conclusions as related to online learning in our colleges and universities. In 1997, a report was published about California Virtual University research related to the need for distance learning opportunities. According to the report, “The greatest demand for such services is in work-related areas or those areas governed by licensing requirements.” The report continued by suggesting that, “distance learning will become increasingly common in higher education because the pool of prospective students have already been exposed to distance learning techniques and technology. Almost all U.S. students have had some exposure to media and computers in education. Computer use is increasingly common in the home and at school” (Pogodzinski, 1997)*.      

This prediction proved accurate as, according to Means et al, for the US Department of Education (2010). These authors state, “Online learning—for students and for teachers—is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology.” They cite estimates by the National Center for Education Statistics, “that the number of K-12 public school students enrolling in a technology-based distance education course grew by 65 percent in the two years from 2002-03 to 2004-05.” They continue to note a survey by Picciano and Seaman estimating, “that more than a million K–12 students took online courses in school year 2007–08.” 


Universities offering undergraduate and graduate degrees and licensure programs in 2012 must be  ready to serve a population of students increasingly used to and expectant of the benefits of online learning opportunities.

According to a meta-analysis of evidence based practices in online learning, Means et al., stated that, “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction.”
A majority of the study effects on which this conclusion was drawn were from learners above the secondary level. The study continues by stating, “
Online learning appeared to be an effective option for both undergraduates ...and for graduate students and professionals.... in a wide range of academic and professional studies.” A conclusion of the above study was, “When used by itself, online learning appears to be as effective as conventional classroom instruction” (Means et al, 2010).

 Kim and Bonk (2006) conducted survey research on online teaching and learning in higher education. They concluded that, “Institutions of higher education have increasingly embraced online education, and the number of students enrolled in distance programs is rapidly rising in colleges and universities throughout the United States.” These authors reported that the results of their survey, “forecasts enormous growth in online certification and recertification programs, as well as some growth in associate's and master's degree programs during the coming decade.”

Wallace (2003) reported in a review of research on online learning in higher education that, “Online learning has become a widespread method for providing education at the graduate and undergraduate level.” Vignare (2006) reported that, “Twenty percent of all higher education students now take online courses and that is a dramatic increase from under 1 percent in 1995 to 20 percent today.”

Allen and Seaman (2010), in the 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning, found that online enrollment, “rose by almost one million students from a year earlier. The survey of more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide finds approximately 5.6 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in fall 2009, the most recent term for which figures are available.” Allen stated, “This represents the largest ever year-to-year increase in the number of students studying online... Nearly thirty percent of all college and university students now take at least one course online.” 


Additional significant conclusions of the Sloan Consortium study were:


·   Online enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher

education student population, with the most recent data demonstrating continued substantial growth.

• Over 5.6 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall 2009 term; an increase of nearly one million students over the number reported the previous year.

• The twenty-one percent growth rate for online enrollments far exceeds the less than two percent growth of the overall higher education student population.

• Nearly thirty percent of higher education students now take at least one course online.

·   The 2010 results show some small improvements in the perception of the relative quality of online instruction as compared to face-to-face.

• In the first report of this series in 2003, fifty-seven percent of academic leaders rated the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face. That number is now sixty-six percent, a small but noteworthy increase.

• Over three-quarters of academic leaders at public institutions report that online is as good as or better than face-to-face instruction ...

·   Academic leaders at all types of institutions report that the impact of the economy is even greater this year than last – with increased demand for both face-to-face and online courses. In all cases the increase in demand for online is greater than that for the corresponding face-to-face offerings.

• Nearly one-half of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for face-to-face courses and programs.

• Three-quarters of institutions report that the economic downturn has increased demand for online courses and programs.

·   There is no compelling evidence that the continued robust growth in online enrollments

Is at its end. There are some signs, albeit slight, that there may be some clouds on the horizon.

• A majority of institutions continue to report that there is increasing competition for online  students.

• Reported year-to-year enrollment changes for fully online programs by discipline show

               most growing, but with a sizable portion seeing steady enrollments.

• Virtually all recent growth in online enrollments has come from the growth of existing

offerings, not from institutions new to online starting new programs. (Allen & Seaman, 2010)


Jaschik (2009) cited the US Department of Education study when he stated, “Online learning has definite advantages over face-to-face instruction when it comes to teaching and learning.” He reported, “The study found that students who took all or part of their instruction online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through face-to-face instruction.” Jaschik quotes Oblinger by reporting, "Online education ... gives people greater opportunity for flexibility, for experiential learning, for illustrating things in multiple ways such as visualization." According to Oblinger (in Jaschik), “colleges need to think broadly about using online education, and not be "artificially limited" to face-to-face instruction.”

*Allen, I.E., & Seaman, J. for Sloan Consortium, Babson Survey Research Groups. (2010). Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010. Retrieved from:

Jaschik, S. (2009). The Evidence on Online Education. Inside Higher Ed.  Retrieved from:

Kim, K-J., & Bonk, C.J. (2006). The Future of Online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: The Survey Says…Educause Quarterly, 29(4). Retrieved from:

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K. (Center for Technology in Learning). (2010). US Dept of Education --Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. Retrieved from:


Pogodzinski, J.M. (1997). California Virtual University Literature Review of Secondary Literature on Distance Learning Markets. Retrieved from: and

Vignare, K. (2006). Blended Learning: Education Innovation & Productivity. Campus Technology (Michigan State University). Retrieved from:


Wallace, R.M. (2003).   Online Learning in Higher Education: Areview of research on interactions among teachers and students. Education, Communication & Information, 3(2). Retrieved from:


The following online graduate degree programs have been identified in the UNC-North Carolina system:

East Carolina University Master of Arts in Education—Special Education  
UNC-Charlotte Master of Education, Special Education (K-12): General Curriculum

Western Carolina University Master of Arts in Education—Special Education
Western Carolina University Master of Education Special Education


None of the above online programs originates from a university within 100 miles of Fayetteville State University. The nearest MEd program online originates at Western Carolina University.

The current Fayetteville State University program offers concentration word toward advanced licensure in a choice of areas: LD, ID, or SED.

4. Projected total annual enrollment:
Year 1:10 
Year 2:12 
Year 3:14 
Year 4:14 
Year 5:14 
his intent to plan a new distance education degree program (or program site) has been reviewed and approved by the appropriate campus committees and authorities.
Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Contact Name:Dr. Kimberly Smith-Burton 
Contact Title:Chair, Middle Grades, Secondary and Specialized Subjects