What began in 1891 as the State College for Colored Students, Delaware State University has watched its student body grow and diversify over the years, just as its teaching methods have. “A melting pot for education”, this long standing member of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) still boasts a 76% black student body, but, as with colleges around the world, have seen and sought a marked increase in Caucasian and other minority enrollment, bringing their student population to around 3,700 for this Dover college. They offer over 56 undergraduate degrees on campus, as well as another 25 Master’s and Doctoral degrees, and with two satellite campuses in nearby Georgetown and Wilmington, are currently the second largest college in the state (behind the University of Delaware). They now boast Division I sports, house six colleges, and are a far cry from the 7 student enrollment when the college first opened.
As times have called for it, distance learning programs have sprung up at DSU. Using Blackboard to allow further education online, Del State offers three types of web interaction with the school. Web Enhanced Courses allow for further review and exploration of materials outside the classroom, while still using in class methods for the main bulk of the teaching. Blended Learning Courses won’t always meet in the classroom, but will sometimes consist of online discussions and activities during scheduled class time (including tests and assignments). Finally, there are the Online Distance Education Courses, wherein you will NEVER see the inside of the classroom, but will instead interact with the professor through Blackboard. For this last, all material, from syllabus to exam, will be accessible only online, with the professor using web based tools to conduct all exercises with the class.
Online courses aren’t meant to take the place of the entire college experience, and while no distance learning degrees are offered, the advantage of technology allows for students to spend less time on campus and offers more tools to further their understanding outside of class. Blackboard is used here as a tool that goes hand in hand with campus work, allowing for both the teacher and the student to have more freedom in their schedules without sacrificing education. For a college averaging less than 4,000 students, the amount of degrees offered is astounding (with doctorates in interdisciplinary applied mathematics and mathematical physics, applied chemistry, neuroscience, optics) and the school expects to grow more, just as it has the past few years.
Their dedication to offering students a “passport to life” is evident, not only in the use of online courses and mixed distance/in-class teaching, but in their research programs and multi-country cooperative learning programs. In research, they’ve done work for everything from NASA to the biomedical field, attracting federal grants and allowing students more hands on work in viable areas. Their international partnerships aid in their research at DSU, as well as allowing for student exchanges and a greater educational community (one which would be driven by their advancing technology, leading to a furthering of their distance learning and online student tools).