Mississippi College

On-line Classes Team Up at Mississippi College

February 13, 2013

Call it a successful marriage of two on-line programs.

That’s really the case at Mississippi College since communication classes will join forces with the health services administration’s program to offer students a stronger on-line degree.

Cliff Fortenberry, chairman of the Communication Department, and his wife, Melanie Fortenberry, director of the health services administration program, tackled many of the details during their daily walks in Clinton.

“As we both had experience in the fields, we soon began talking about how effectively we could combine our efforts and experience for students,” Cliff Fortenberry said. Both professors brought solid credentials building new on-line programs on the Clinton campus. “We are excited to see what this new child of ours will become.”

It turned out that many health services administration students at Mississippi College were taking communication graduate courses on-line as well. So, combining two programs reaching students via computers made good sense. The official launch date will be August 2013.

The separate on-line programs at the Baptist-affiliated university got started in January 2012. Both programs now take five semesters to complete. The combined degree will include 19 hours in communication and 12 hours in health services.

“By giving students more options, we will attract more students and create more opportunities for all involved,” Cliff Fortenberry said.

Melanie Fortenberry is equally pumped about the new team approach to prepare students for communications posts in the healthcare industry. “We noticed some common ground that both of our programs shared,” she said.

There were MC communications graduates hired to manage public relations duties in healthcare organizations. And there were health services administration grads involved in marketing and public relations work as part of their careers.

As far as on-line classes go, growing interest at Mississippi College reflects trends across the USA. There are about 6.7 million U.S. college students taking at least one on-line class this year, according to the Babson Research Group. Due to the boom of on-line classes, the University of Phoenix is the largest private institution in the nation, and includes offices in the Jackson area. Schools such as the University of Florida today offer more than 100 on-line programs.

“The major growth among U.S. universities is in building on-line programs,” says MC Graduate School Dean Debbie Norris, who teaches on-line classes at the Christian university.

On-line classes feature narrative lecture notes, power points, and discussion forums to replace live lectures and classroom discussions. With on-line classes, each class typically has a research assignment associated with learning objectives. In many cases, universities offer a mixture of on-line and traditional classes.

Some recent Mississippi College graduates are believers in the benefits of on-line classes.

A 27-year-old Jackson native now living in Queens, New York, Chanukka Smith began taking classes towards her master’s in health services administration at MC. She started with classes via the more traditional approach, then switched to on-line courses.

“When the program was made available on-line, it allowed me to release some stress when trying to manage my work schedule with school,” Smith said. Her hard work is paying dividends.

After earning her master’s degree at MC, Smith was selected into a Healthcare Administrative Fellowship for Future Leaders at a New York hospital. She works with the CEO and other executive staff to gain fresh insights into running a healthcare organization.

For additional information on the new combined on-line degree, contact Cliff Fortenberry at 601.925.3457 or Melanie Fortenberry at 601.925.3982.


Photo: Cliff Fortenberry and his wife, Melanie Fortenberry

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