No time for a traditional class schedule? Real estate, mobile app development, and entertainment legalese are just a few areas working professionals can now explore by taking self-paced noncredit courses at Tennessee State University.
This expansion represents another milestone in the university’s efforts to bridge the digital divide and position itself as a leader in the area of continuing education.
Dr. Evelyn Nettles, TSU associate vice president for academic affairs, said she is excited about the new dimension of programming this partnership is adding to the continuing education program.
Andrew Golden, a Nashville native, is currently pursuing certifications through the TSU Continuing Education Program.
“The university offers a variety of things for a variety of people,” she said. “It offers credit for those people who really want to get their degree. And for those people who want to improve what they already have, we offer a noncredit program.”
Some of the specialized courses life-long learners can take at TSU will include classes on women in leadership, helping minority youth and police work together, second-chance reentry programs to help inmates when they return to society, and social media marketing courses.
This development is part of an agreement with Aperion Global Institute (AGI), a unique digital educational model of network affiliates that have a direct focus on erasing the digital divide in education.
“The collaboration with Aperion Global Institute will allow Tennessee State University to expand its noncredit course offerings by helping the university expand its presence in high-demand markets,” said Dr. Mark Hardy, TSU vice president of academic affairs.
“The web portal through AGI is attractive and designed so that potential students can readily find the specific course or courses of their choosing. This is also expected to increase the number of students who sign up for various courses through AGI.”
Costs for the courses range from $99 for a typical four-week course to $297 for a 12-week course. Students can take the courses on their mobile phones and tablets or through AGI’s digital TV channel. All the courses have been loaded on an SD (secure digital) card.
Isiah Reese, chief executive officer of AGI, said this venture gives professionals, entrepreneurs and those who have not finished school an opportunity to enhance their skills and stay relevant using a self-paced platform.
“The beautiful part is that we have open enrollment 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year,” Reese said. “A lifelong learner can start a course with us any day of the week from anywhere in the world. It’s an open platform to keep the learning flowing.”
This flexibility attracted Andrew Golden, a Nashville native who attended Howard University last year but found himself unable to return for the current academic year.
“I spoke with Isiah, and when I shared my career goals, he began to explain to me what this program offers,” Golden said. “It just made sense to me to go ahead and pursue some of the things I was already planning to pursue after graduation. Getting that done now and getting some experience in those various fields give me a head start on when I graduate.”
Golden who is currently pursuing certifications in security plus, networking plus, and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), has been accepted as a full-time student at TSU in the computer science program.
Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, the dean of the TSU College of Engineering, expressed excitement about Golden’s acceptance into the program.
“With a strong demand for IT professionals in Middle Tennessee and the nation, I believe our program is well suited for Mr. Golden, that is affordable and will provide the right credentials for employment or entrepreneurship,” Hargrove said.
According to Hargrove, less than 20 percent of programs in computer science are nationally accredited. However, he said the TSU Department of Computer Science is accredited by the Accrediting Board of Engineering & Technology (ABET), and provides an academic experience of IT knowledge to pursue a career in software development, networking, cybersecurity, or information systems.
“Ultimately, I want to be in mobile app development and cybersecurity,” Golden said. “Growing up there was so much I was unable to see in terms of being exposed. I want to be in a position not just to say I have this and that, but to say this is what you have the potential to be.”
Dr. Cheryl Seay, director of distance education and multimedia services at TSU, said expanding the university’s continuing education offerings with AGI is part of TSU’s efforts to revitalize its continuing education program.
“Aperion Global Institute’s uniqueness in this space is their developing relationships with well-known figures in certain areas and then offering a bundle of courses associated with those individuals,” Seay said.
AGI’s high profile experts, also known as Global Education Ambassadors, are committed to erasing the digital divide. They include prominent individuals like entertainment attorney Ricky Anderson, whose clients include Steve Harvey, Mo’Nique, Rickey Smiley, Yolanda Adams and Mary Mary; civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who worked on the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases; Digital marketing expert, speaker and author Yoli Chisholm; and Keith Clinkscales, founder and former chairman and CEO of Vanguarde Media.
“Our first mission is to have a high completion rate. We want them to have a unique and engaging experience,” Reese said.
TSU awarded more than 800 continuing education units (CEU) in the 2016-2017 academic year. According to a majority of those awards were from courses taught by various campus departments or external agencies.
Nettles said the continuing education department is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
“What we offer is quality programming for our whole community, and now the global community,” she said.