Faculty and staff of Paul Quinn College, an institution with a emphasis on community development and student empowerment. (Image Courtesy of Paul Quinn College)
Scholastic debt load has become a crushing problem for college and university students in the United States. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, between 2006 and 2016 the total value of student debt in the United States rose from $480 billion in 2006 to more than $1.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2017. Student debt represents over 7.5 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, or about $4,800 for every single adult and child in the U.S. By comparison, total U.S. military spending accounts for 3.3 percent of the nation’s GDP.
In this landscape of rising tuitions and crippling debt, Paul Quinn College (PQC) of Dallas, Texas stands out. The institution has actually lowered tuitions in recent years and college administrators are committed to a Work College model. Under this model, students graduate with as little debt as possible thanks to paid employment with the college during their time of study.
PQC has a long and proud history of providing education to those who face barriers to higher learning. The school was founded in 1872 by African Methodist Episcopal preachers. The founding purpose of the school was to provide an education to freed slaves and their children. Though times have changed, the college’s foundational principles live on. PQC’s Online Program Coordinator, Averie Connell, believes PQC exists to provide service to those who have the ability to succeed but not the access to resources.
“We have a ‘We over Me’ vision, the brainchild of our president. It’s a goal of providing opportunities to the underserved,” she explained. “A lot of our students are first generation college students. They have academic ability but lack the financial resources to further their education and earn a degree.”
PQC works to reduce student debt through the school’s innovative Work Program. All full-time residential students are required to take part in the Work Program, in which they take on paid roles around the campus.
However, students in the Work Program or in external internships may find their work schedule conflicts with class hours. Student athletes can face a similar challenge, as well as mature students who are often juggling school and career jobs.
“Because we are a work college it is important to extend our online offerings. Work college students need the flexibility of online courses to support their work schedules,” Connell noted.
The school wanted to expand their online course offerings to ensure the Work Program did not interfere with studies, in addition to giving student athletes and mature students better access to their academic programs.
Before they could expand their online courses, PQC needed to update their LMS. That’s where Remote Learner came in.
The Remote Learner team worked with PQC’s staff to design and launch a new digital learning solution. Providing ongoing support for their course expansion project and recently, completed a new integration that permits the LMS to communicate with the college’s student information system. Integrating the LMS with other platforms used by the college extends the impact of their LMS and making it a true Digital Learning Environment.
Remote Learner’s groundwork will permit the rapid expansion of the school’s LMS, from 25 courses in 2017 to an anticipated 40 courses in the first part of 2018. Connell anticipates the number of online courses will continue to expand through 2018. Connell said the school is getting excellent support in their expansion efforts from Remote Learner’s team of developers, as well their account manager Janet Churchward and case manager Cyndi Bishop.
“They keep us informed about things we can do to keep our LMS running efficiently and maximize our productivity. They’ve both been a significant help and have provided excellent support, regardless of how many times I email or call on them for assistance,” Connell shared. “Cyndi got on the phone with our team as we work through some issues and come up with viable solutions. She also got us the data we needed to facilitate our system automation project.”
PQC is also looking forward to exploring ways to utilize additional resources and training provided via Learning Spaces, Remote Learner’s client training portal.
Understanding the unique goals and values of each of our clients is at the heart of who we are at Remote Learner. Whether we are involved in making big or small impacts we are proud to be partners with amazing institutions like Paul Quinn College and being a member of the “We” who are making major impacts in the lives of the students they serve.