Celebrating 50 years of distance education with K-State Global Campus

Rosanna Vail, K-State Global Campus

In 2016, Kansas State University Global Campus is celebrating 50 years of helping students learn across the globe. (Photo: K-State Global Campus)

For half a century, Kansas State University Global Campus has helped make a K-State education more accessible to adult learners worldwide. Decade by decade, advancements in educational technologies and collaborative partnerships on campus and beyond have brought K-State courses, degrees and professional development to both professionals and industry. 

 History and reach

K-State Global Campus began at the roots of the university land-grant mission of extension programming and a commitment to make research-based information available beyond the university campus.

While extension programming focused on agriculture and home, the university saw a growing need to provide credit opportunities for working adults and professional development through conferences and noncredit programs. K-State formed the Department of Continuing Education, which later separated from Extension and became the Division of Continuing Education in 1966. In 2014, the division was renamed K-State Global Campus to better reflect its global reach and breadth of educational options.

Today, K-State Global Campus has students in all 50 states and international connections and partnerships with 20 countries. More than 70 distance programs include bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, graduate and undergraduate certificates, and minor programs. 

For alumni who already have a K-State degree but still want to further their education, K-State Global Campus provides noncredit and professional development opportunities, as well as coordination services for professional meetings and conferences. Through strong ties with Kansas State Polytechnic and Olathe campuses, as well as the local community through the UFM Community Learning Center in Manhattan, Kansas, K-State Global Campus continues to build partnerships that create more access and opportunities for students and professionals. 

 Distance education technology

Thanks to technology, Kansas State University students no longer have to live in Manhattan, Salina or Olathe to access K-State classes. (Photo: K-State Global Campus)
Long before desktop computers, the Internet, email, smartphones and tablets, the automobile helped deliver educational content through K-State Global Campus in the mid-to-late 1960s. K-State faculty took their teaching on the road and provided instruction on-location throughout Kansas.

In the 1970s, courses with written lectures were printed in the newspaper. The first course, "America and the Future of Man," was published in 1973 and included 20 written lectures by the nation's most distinguished teachers and scholars. 

Telecourse lectures aired through PBS programming in 1984. Students tuned in at certain dates and times to view the course series on television, the most popular of which was a course on Vietnam.

In the 1990s, K-State's videoconferencing system, TELENET 2, created opportunities for students all over the state of Kansas to connect with each other for coursework and communication at the same time. This videoconferencing system enhanced the initial TELENET audioconference system of the 1970s, established through the Kansas Regents Network. 

With the introduction of online learning in the mid-1990s, distance education delivery went national, then global. K-State offered its first online class and online degree program in 1996, followed by the launch of "K-State Online," the university's course management system, in 1998. 

By the 2000s, course material that had been recorded on VHS tapes and mailed to students switched to CD-ROM delivery, or became available online. Now online course content is increasingly interactive, integrating more social technologies than ever before to meet distance student needs in an increasingly digital world. 

 Looking to the future

Much has changed and is still evolving in the way K-State delivers education to professionals in Kansas, the nation and the world. K-State Global Campus forges ahead into the next 50 years with determination to bring new educational options and delivery methods to place-bound students and professionals, no matter their location.   

Join us in celebrating the past and future of K-State Global Campus in 2016, and learn how you can contribute toward helping the next generation of distance students find success through K-State. Your contribution to scholarships for distance students can ensure they have the financial means to complete their education and better their lives and the communities around them.

Find out more about K-State Global Campus history and educational offerings or participate in celebration events and activities.

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