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Harrison College Harnesses Technology to Bolster Students

Indianapolis-based Harrison College established itself early on as an institution dedicated to successfully leading its graduates into careers. Harrison – founded in 1902 as Indiana Business College – took significant strides when it launched its first online course offerings in 2004.

“We have a strong desire to meet the needs of our non-traditional students,” said John Heppner, dean of Harrison’s online school of business. “Our online degrees are very much asynchronous. People have the ability to log on and do what they need to do around their work schedule.”

With demands on student attention from jobs and family responsibility, Harrison explored ways to bolster its student community through the use of technology.

“We live in a world governed by social media and variety. Social media and other technology tools have certainly been on the rise.” Heppner said.

Spurred by the technology, Harrison’s administration and faculty launched KnowU to bolster the student community. The software has a social media component, access to tools, and embedded content geared toward student engagement in the community.

“We are continuously looking for ways to make the student’s experience more interesting,” Heppner said.

With business among the school’s most popular study areas, it’s no surprise that the majority of Harrison’s online offerings are in business. Students can pursue associate and bachelor’s degrees, as well as diploma and certificate programs.

“Traditionally, our background has been that of a career college. The focus has always been career-focused, success-driven,” said Heppner. “Most of our focus has been on offering courses specifically related to the disciplines students are taking.”

Heppner said though the school has recently begun to offer more general education and foundational courses, the ‘meat’ of what students are going to receive is in the area of concentration for the discipline they are studying.

In addition to KnowU, other student resources include online technical support, as well as online student affairs specialists whom are assigned to students.

“If students have any concerns or problems, their student affairs specialist would be the person to go to,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for the student affairs specialist to reach out to the student about things such as grades or attendance.”

Heppner said the school has already begun working on their long- and short-term goals.

“I’d like to see us continue to work with KnowU and interactive technology by increasing resources, videos, links to articles, and other tools that assist people in understanding difficult concepts,” he said. “Knowing that we are offering really good support mechanisms is huge.”

Harrison is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent College and Schools, and is currently a candidate for regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. Online students can earn an associate degree in accounting, administrative professional, business finance, business management, business marketing, human resources, and logistics; bachelor’s degree in accounting, business management, fashion merchandising, human resources, and project management; a diploma as an accounting assistant or office assistant; and a leadership certificate.

An associate degree requires completion of 96 credit hours and 180 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN

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