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How Unity College Distance Education Works

Unity College Distance Education (DE) is the fully accredited online education Sustainable Education Business Unit (SEBU) at Unity College and was founded in 2016 as the second SEBU under the Enterprise Education Model. Enterprise Education is a structural model that enables individual units to function independently while sharing some centralized services. 

When it began, DE offered only two graduate degree programs, and has since grown to offer seven graduate degrees, two graduate certificates, thirteen undergraduate degrees, two undergraduate certificates, numerous micro-credentials, and badges. DE is structured in a way that puts the student experience ahead of all else. The recruitment, advising, course design, and instruction are designed by experts in their respective fields. 

No one role in the DE organization functions as an island. They are all interwoven to enhance the student experience, leveraging training, communication, and technology, to meet their goals. 

Dr. Amy Arnett (Vice President, Unity College Distance Education) and Dr. Melik Peter Khoury (President, Unity College) present A history of Unity College: Distance Education

Marketing and enrollment management both play a crucial role in how we reach prospective students, and how they ultimately enroll in Distance Education. We have five guiding principles for how we work, and five for how we engage with students. Our work principles are: put students first, create a team, invest in marketing, data talks, and embrace systematic change. Our principles for engaging with students are: know your audience, remove barriers to entry, set expectations and seek agreement, continuous engagement, and last but certainly not least, make it easy. 

Chris Vigezzi, Director of Enrollment Management presents Enrollment Management & Marketing, Unity College Distance Education.

Recruitment is a crucial part of any college, whether it is for online education or a residential campus. Unity College Distance Education has a staff of trained professionals who work with an enrollment management company to make sure anyone who is truly interested in our programs is able to speak to a person within twenty minutes of reaching out. Our concierges work with new and potential students to help them complete the necessary enrollment steps, including scheduling and financial aid. 

Heather Stetkis, Assistant Director for Concierge Services presents Recruitment Process

Advisors play a critical role in a student’s success, and traditionally faculty have filled that position while juggling their other duties. Unity College Distance Education, however, frees up faculty to teach, and instead has a team of professional advisors who guide students through their academic careers. Advisors are the primary point of contact for any student questions or concerns, including financial aid, class schedules, registration, and issues that may arise along the way. They build relationships with students so they can help them graduate with a Unity College degree.

Chris Vigezzi, Director of Enrollment Management presents Advising in Distance Education at Unity College

Unity College Distance Education Deans are not only responsible for collaborating with academic, enrollment, and marketing teams to design audience-based graduate and undergraduate programs, but they also work with concierges and Marketing to sell programs and generate revenue through student enrollment. 

They are responsible for hiring Subject Matter Experts (SME), explaining the process and expectations to them, and then hand them off to an Instructional Designer (ID). They review the final project(s) as part of course development approval, ensure SME is meeting ID’s expectations and meeting deadlines, review and approve final course development, and check in weekly with the IDs to discuss new course builds, course refreshes, and course standardization topics. 

In addition to this, they collaborate with advisors on course scheduling, mitigate and help resolve student complaints involving academic-related issues, counsel advisors on academic planning, act as interface between advisors and faculty members, and assist advising staff with student success and retention efforts. Last but not least, they help the Registrar’s Office with course scheduling, transfer equivalency questions, and roll out new programs and update existing programs.

Dr. Pam MacRae and Dr. David Rogers present The Role of Deans and Faculty

Just like with advisors, Unity College Distance Education has a team of professional Instructional Designers who work with Subject Matter Experts to design courses that achieve specific learning outcomes, while creating an engaging online learning experience for students. All courses are designed working backward from the desired learning outcome creating a template for the course along the way. 

Chris Malmberg, Director of Distance Education Instructional Design presents The Role of Instructional Design

Unity College believes that empowering leadership to make decisions and holding people accountable is crucial to an organization’s success. Dr. Amy Arnett outlines how Unity College Distance Education is led, how that flows into to organization as a whole, and how it encourages growth and innovation. 

Dr. Amy Arnett presents Role of Vice President & Wrap Up