Campus: CSU Fresno -- August 9, 2002
Fresno State Awarded $5 Million to Expand Digital
Two grants totaling more than $5 million will allow California State
University, Fresno to bolster its Web-based instruction and better serve
students from rural areas who can’t get to the campus for classes.
The grants from the U.S. Department of Education are targeted to “Hispanic
Serving Institutions,” a designation Fresno State holds because
approximately 33 percent of the university’s undergraduates are
Hispanic. The $5 million will be spread over five years.
“These grants will allow us to reach out to students in rural
areas with more Web-based online courses,” said Hye Ok Park, executive
director of Fresno State’s Digital Campus (www.csufresno.edu/digitalcampus).
“We also will be able to provide faculty training in developing
online courses and we will develop a much-needed high-tech training
Fresno State has an 18,000-square-mile service area. More than half
of the school-aged children in the region live in rural, isolated communities,
with an average round-trip commuting distance to Fresno of 80 miles.
One of the two grants will help transition more undergraduate courses
to a fully online format, through the Digital Campus. Also, targeted
freshmen in Kerman, Mendota and Tranquility will receive special academic
tutoring and counseling and special assistance in accessing Web-based
A laptop subsidy program for low-income Hispanic students also is built
into the grant.
The second grant will be a cooperative effort with West Hills Community
College District. West Hills’ existing general education online
courses will be combined with upper division courses from Fresno State
to enable students in nursing, allied health sciences and teacher education
to complete their degrees online.
Fresno State and West Hills already have a dual admissions component
in place. West Hills, a major feeder college to Fresno State, has a
Hispanic student population of 42 percent.
“Both grants will ultimately benefit all Fresno State students
by providing wider online course offerings and services to the student
body at large,” said Park.
The Digital Campus, created in late 2000, already serves approximately
15,300 students, or 75 percent of the university’s enrollment.
Students can choose from more than 600 partially Web-enhanced courses
or completely Web-based classes. The classes are offered through Blackboard,
a Web-based e-Learning portal system.
Students can get to their courses on Blackboard 24 hours a day, 7 days
a week, to:
- View or print syllabi, lecture notes and any other textual materials.
- View streaming audio/video materials provided by faculty.
- Engage in discussion board exchanges with fellow students.
- Enter the virtual classroom to meet the faculty and other students
- Submit homework and assignments via Digital Drop Box.
- Take quizzes and exams.
- Keep track of their own progress and standing in the class, online
- Connect to e-resources on the Web for course-related research.
“Our Digital Campus enrollment numbers indicate students are
ready for Web-based instruction,” said Park. “With these
two new grants, we will be able to reach even more people who desire
an education from Fresno State.”
(Editors: Hye Ok Park is available for interviews and
demonstrations of the Blackboard system. Contact Shirley Armbruster
at 278-5292 or 269-5261 for arrangements.)