WVROCKS expands online degree opportunities for adult students with new grant

Charleston, W.Va. – Armed with a new $500,000 grant, the West Virginia Remote Online Collaborative Knowledge System (WVROCKS) is expanding opportunities for adult students in the state to earn Regents Bachelor of Arts (RBA) degrees online. The grant, which was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service program, is funding video equipment that will allow WVROCKS to offer classes online that include synchronous learning beginning in fall 2016.

“This grant is another opportunity for us to expand WVROCKS, which offers nontraditional students an unencumbered path toward their degrees,” said Dr. Roxann Humbert, who oversees the portal. “We have awarded more than 5,000 hours of credit since piloting the portal four years ago. This growth is tremendous, and I believe it speaks to an increasing desire among adult students to complete their degrees – and a commitment by the state to equip more West Virginians with the postsecondary credentials today’s economy demands.”

WVROCKS, which is administered through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Network (WVNET), has grown from 55 students and five courses to nearly 700 students enrolled in more than 40 different courses, all of which are offered in a compressed, eight-week format and taught by faculty from colleges and universities across the state.

Students have noted that the WVROCKS portal allows them to finish their RBA degrees while working and without travel, access classes at times convenient to their busy schedules, and complete their coursework and earn their degrees in an accelerated timeframe.

“Without the flexible opportunity WVROCKS online RBA Program offers, it would have been very difficult for me to obtain my bachelor’s degree. As a full-time employee, wife, grandmother and volunteer in my community it would have been difficult to carve into my routine attendance in a ‘bricks and mortar’ classroom,” said Fairmont State University student Holly Fluharty, who will graduate this May. “For more than 30 years, I have wanted to obtain my degree, and my husband and daughters have encouraged me, but it wasn’t until I learned about this program that I began to believe my dream was achievable.”

College and university partners include Bluefield State College, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Marshall University, and Shepherd University’s Martinsburg campus. Campus partners say WVROCKS gives them an opportunity to offer more courses remotely than would otherwise be possible.

“Concord University’s RBA students benefit greatly from the WVROCKS online courses,” said Dr. Kendra Boggess, Concord’s President. “WVROCKS courses offer a wide variety of innovative, convenient and quality courses for the non-traditional student, designed by qualified faculty. Most RBA students work full time jobs or have families and cannot attend a traditional on-campus course. WVROCKS online courses allow students the freedom to access courses at a time more convenient to their lifestyle and schedule. Concord’s RBA students have also indicated they are very happy to have the ability to choose courses they are interested in taking towards a four-year degree.”

For more information about the RBA degree and WVROCKS, visit https://secure.cfwv.com/Home/RBA_Today/RBA_Today.aspx.

The WVROCKS portal can be accessed at https://ilearn-wvrocks.wvnet.edu/.