New Hampshire Leads Innovation Online

I grew up with a dial-up internet connection. If you’ve had dial-up before, you feel me. The brutal waits. The killer load times. The thrill of seeing 1/16 of a photo load. The agony of knowing that you’ll never see more than that. For a while, it seemed like snail-paced page loads would be all that we’d ever get in my rural New Hampshire town. Eventually, higher speed connections became available (“higher speed” being relative). And, slowly—slowly—decent high-speed access has become mainstream.

Having witnessed the struggle for high-speed internet that many areas of our state deal with, I’m amazed by how forward-thinking New Hampshire has been when it comes to online education. I’ve reaped the benefits of our state’s innovation in this area, and I’m in good company–per capita New Hampshire has more students in online classes than any other state except Florida, NHPR reports.

SWP Blog Graphic

When I was in high school, I earned college credits through dual-enrolled online courses offered by New Hampshire’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS) and Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Years later, when it came time to choose a college, I realized that the Granite State had a plethora of online and hybrid college course options. Currently, I’m taking online courses from SNHU; the flexibility allows me to work and go to school.

And, I get it—as a New Hampshire resident I would still have options even if there weren’t online education programs based in our state. After all, online courses can be accessed from all over the world! That being said, it’s neat to have a “local” online option. With that in mind, here’s an overview of a few online education options that are available in the Granite State….

VLACS

Our state’s Virtual Learning Academy Charter School has taken off since its creation in 2008. VLACS offers free middle school through college level courses to students across the state. According to a report from New Hampshire Public Radio, more than 12,000 students in New Hampshire were taking at least one class from VLACS in 2014. The school’s website boasts that it has become one of the largest statewide virtual schools in America.

Higher Ed

Online degree options have become mainstream at most New Hampshire colleges and universities. UNH offers online master’s and doctorate degree programs. Granite State College offers associate’s through graduate level degrees online. Manchester’s Southern New Hampshire University has earned its name as the largest online degree provider in New England. In an interview with The Huffington Post, SNHU’s VP of Marketing and Student Recruiting explained that the non-profit school served over 32,000 online students in 2014. New Hampshire’s Community College system has an online learning program too; each of the state’s seven Community Colleges offers online courses.

Licensing

New Hampshire boaters can complete boater education requirements via a state-approved course that’s tailored to our state laws. Since 2010, New Hampshire has also offered hunter ed through an online course. Now, The Union Leader reports that 49% of all students who take hunter ed in the Granite State use the online option.

Does your New Hampshire employer pay for you to take courses online to advance your skills? What other New Hampshire-based online programs would you add to this list? Can you think of other ways that our state is using online education? Add your thoughts to the comments below!

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