Tennessee Chambers of Commerce and Regents Online Degree Programs Collaborate

Fall enrollment is just around the corner, and in response to a statewide demand for a more qualified and skilled workforce, the Tennessee Board of Regents has developed two online educational programs.

The two programs—Regents Online Degree Programs-Campus Collaborative (RODP) and Regents Online Continuing Education and Workforce Development (ROCE)—aim to expand educational opportunities and enhance the skills of the workforce.

The Tennessee Board of Regents Campus Collaborative is leading the way in online education and workforce development. At the U.S. Dept of Labor Employee and Training Administration’s recent Expert Panel on Technology Based Learning, TBR’s Raylean Henry, director of the ROCE program, and Robbie Kendall-Melton, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs, were invited to present information on 21st Century approaches to eLearning.

“Through the collaborative of the Tennessee Technology Centers, community colleges, and universities, TBR is positioned to develop and deliver state-wide online continuing education and workforce programs and professional development activities 24/7, worldwide,” said Melton.

ROCE is the nation's fastest growing online program, going from zero to 7,000 students in less than five years. The Collaborative’s courses in Spanish for Health Care Professionals and Spanish for Law Enforcement Professionals, along with its credit and non-credit offerings in Nursing Education, also set the network apart.

Because of TBR’s unique approach to excellence in online education, businesses can now give employees continuous training and the opportunity to receive their degrees. TBR universities, community colleges, and technology centers work together to offer courses, training, certificates, diplomas, and degrees—all online.

“An educated workforce is the key to successful community and economic development,” said George Halford, president/CEO of the Cookeville Area-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce. “Study after study shows that a community’s per capita income is directly related to the quality of its educational system. TBR’s collaborative online programs provide all Tennesseans the opportunity for quality educations. If you have access to the Internet, you have access to quality higher education.”

“More and more, businesses and industries seeking to expand or relocate are looking for a well-educated workforce, especially in the information technology and communications fields,” said Mike Neal, president/CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “The best way to recruit new, higher-paying jobs to the state is to educate its workers, and that’s what the Tennessee Board of Regents’ campuses are trying to accomplish with RODP and ROCE programs.”

All TBR institutions are fully accredited and the courses are entirely online, meaning students don’t have to be anywhere near a campus. Students have the opportunity to choose a “home school” from among the 6 universities awarding bachelor’s and master’s degrees, the 13 community colleges providing associates degrees and the 27 technology centers offering technical certificates and diplomas. Individuals apply for admission, register for courses, and are awarded degrees, diplomas, or certificates from the “home school.”

Other programs provided through the RODP and ROCE Web site include a virtual library, online tutorials, virtual bookstore, advising and virtual career center.

Mitzi Dunkley of Murfreesboro is a mother of three young children. She recently reentered the workforce and soon learned she would have to go back to school to sharpen her skills in order to earn more money.

“My light-bulb moment was when I went to pay my children’s school tuition,” said Dunkley. “I realized that a majority of my paycheck each month went to child care. If the online classes had not been available, I would not be able to participate. It would be impossible for me to try to fit one more thing into an already impossible schedule.”

RODP and ROCE offer the same education as TBR’s on-campus universities, community colleges and technical centers. The online format was designed to offer more flexibility and accessibility for students like Dunkley and others in similar situations.

“The collaboration of the Regents’ campuses is what makes this program such a great success,” said Kevin Liska, director of the Tennessee Tech University BusinessMedia Center and coordinator of the Regents Campus Collaborative marketing efforts. “The Regents Campus Collaborative of RODP and ROCE is a gateway for students to easily access quality education via the Internet.”

RODP has been rated one of the top three virtual programs in the nation by the Center for Academic Transformation of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute—the nation’s oldest technological university—which supports higher education institutions that take advantage of information technology to transform their academic practices.

To learn more about Regents Campus Collaborative RODP and ROCE programs, visit www.rodp.org or call 888-223-0023.