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MSU to offer hybrid online doctorate program

February 9, 2010

In an attempt to reach out to potential doctoral students who are unable to hold full-time jobs while attending classes, MSU’s College of Education will offer a hybrid course option beginning this summer.

The new hybrid option for the educational psychology and educational technology doctoral program is one of 14 graduate studies programs with an online component offered universitywide and the second doctorate program to offer online courses.

The program is aimed toward individuals who want to pursue the educational psychology and educational technology doctorate but can’t afford to quit their jobs, said Richard Prawat, chairman of MSU’s Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education.

“One thing we noticed, particularly with the down economy, was that it was difficult to lure people away for five years from good paying jobs,” Prawat said.

“We can get recent graduates (who) have thought of graduate school or are in the position to think about changing jobs.”

Prawat said the program is looking for about 20 students for the summer semester. So far, almost 50 people inquired about the program, he said.

Punya Mishra, an associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology, said the hybrid program — scheduled to begin June 21 — embraces the ease of online communication without sacrificing face-to-face interactions of traditional classes. Mishra is the director of the Master of Arts in Educational Technology program.

“There are a couple of things a Ph.D. is about,” Mishra said.

“It is about getting inculcated into a certain way of counting, reading and writing research and we feel that it would be incomplete without the face-to-face component.”

Mishra said the details of the course had not yet been finalized, but the tentative schedule will require students to meet two to three weeks every summer followed by four to five weeks of online work.

During the fall and spring semesters, students would take a single online course and in the summer they would take three, he said.

The new option will not replace the traditional class, making it easier to adapt parts of the program to a hybrid format, Mishra said.

“It is the existing course with a change in delivery,” he said. “All that means is that a large part of the effort is making sure there is no change in quality.”

A large part of maintaining the quality was balancing the face-to-face interactions with online instruction, said Matthew Koehler, associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology.

“The issue is how you can (make a program) for people who work for nine months and have three months out of the year free,” Koehler said.

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