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Dakota State University first in state to offer online el ed degree

October 9, 2018

Dakota State University will soon offer an online-only format to their bachelor of science degree in elementary education.

The South Dakota Board of Regents approved this program on October 3; it is the first elementary education program to be offered fully online by a South Dakota public university.

“It’s all the same classes, all the same field experiences, and all the same content certification exams,” said Dr. Crystal Pauli, dean of the College of Education, but will offer greater availability and convenience to rural areas. 

The primary audience will be paraprofessionals already working in elementary classrooms who wish to become certified as a teacher.

“I think this means that we will be able to reach a wider audience of paraprofessionals in remote areas of the state who may want to complete a degree and stay in their community to teach,” Pauli said. The online program will also benefit stay-at-home moms who may be looking for a career as their children begin school, she explained.

The College of Education hopes that adding this online-only degree will help alleviate the teacher shortage, particularly in more rural school districts. The program is expected to attract 12 new students a year.

Students who participate in the program must identify a school district they will be affiliated with, and the school district must agree to accept them for their field experiences and student teaching, according to Pauli. If the student is located far away from DSU, the college will hire a student teaching supervisor for that student; if they are in a nearby area such as Sioux Falls or Brookings they will be supervised by DSU faculty or supervisors.

New Minor in English as a New Language

Dakota State University will also create a minor in English as a new language to complement its existing teacher education programs. DSU officials state that there is a growing need in smaller and rural school districts for teachers to be prepared to support students whose first language is not English. The 18 credit-hour minor will prepare teachers to work with English language learners in language acquisition, cultural understanding, and classroom technology integration.

“The minor will offer another layer of training for DSU College of Education students,” Pauli shared.

Pauli is looking forward to continuing to offer new options for students in the College of Education.

“It’s exciting to be able to implement any new program,” Pauli said. “It brings a freshness, gives an opportunity to review and reassess our program, and offer new opportunities to our current and future students.”

Finally, the South Dakota Board of Regents approved combining existing majors in two academic programs at Dakota State University into a single major in mathematics with four specializations. The new specializations are cryptography, information systems, intermediate education, and secondary education.