Chadron State College is an open-enrollment public master’s comprehensive college serving 2,841 students, including 564 graduate students in the western part of the Nebraska panhandle, adjacent to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Its service region includes thirty rural counties, twenty of which are designated as “frontier,” with populations of fewer than 2,500 people, and five of which are ranked among the twenty poorest counties in the United States. Sixty-seven percent of its students are first generation and nearly 40 percent have been identified as requiring developmental preparation in reading, writing, and mathematics. Approximately 1,779 of CSC’s 2,841 students take at least one online course each semester.
CSC designed its first developmental courses two years ago when the nearest community college, nearly 110 miles away, determined that they could no longer accommodate the writing and reading instructional needs of CSC’s at-risk learners. At that time, CSC created the Coordinator of the Transitional Program, who created face-to-face reading and writing courses, employed and trained instructors for the program, and creating a detailed identification, tracking, and assessment system for these at-risk learners. The college is now ready for the next step: namely, collaborating in the design of online, cost-effective courses and the piloting of a variety of courses designed by others in our network.