Clark State teams up with college for first-of-its-kind partnership

Clark State Community College is combining forces with another Ohio college to create a unique all-online information technology class.

Clark State and Stark State College in North Canton have launched a combined judicial court reporting program. It trains students to write on a stenographic writing machine at speeds fast enough to provide instantaneous translation of the spoken word.

The school have been working on the partnership for about a year and a half, said Robyn Hennigan, assistant professor and program coordinator of Clark State’s court reporting program.

“The entire program is online from start to the finish,” Hennigan said. “There is nothing that requires a student to take a traditional class.”

The 65-credit-hour curriculum is a “seamless” 50-50 split of classes between the two colleges. Students take online courses from both institutions and earn an associate’s upon completion. Both institutions are reflected on the graduate’s degree.

The program has already attracted students from as far away as Alaska, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Carolina.

“That speaks to the quality of our program,“ said Aimee Belanger-Haas, dean of business and applied technology at Clark State. “We have a very good reputation. Our graduates do a lot to help get the word out.”

The tuition rate is the same rate for the online offerings as in a traditional classroom setting.

“Online education is where students seem to be going,” Hennigan said. “They like the access and flexibility. We live in a technological society. This has opened doors that normally wouldn’t have been opened.”

A National Court Reporting Association study projects that by 2018, there will be 5,500 new openings in court reporting alone. A 2013-14 court reporting outlook by Drucker says the average salary is $43,000 annually, which is expected to increase 14 percent by the year 2020.

“On top of that, the captioning world is exploding,” Hennigan said. “We have so many jobs to fill, so we need graduates to fill them.”

Belanger-Haas said students can benefit from having access to three full-time instructors, an advantage of sharing that will be a priority in the future.

“For Clark State, this is truly our first program share, but there is a statewide push to do things more efficiently in higher ed,” she said.

In fact, there may be more programs like this at Clark State in the future.

“It’s going to depend on having another partner like Stark State,“ Belanger-Haas said.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education is looking at the program to promote this model being used with other programs across the state.

“The hope is that maybe that can help facilitate a template that would speed up the process of creating programs like this,” Hennigan said.

Clark State has had a court reporting program since 1971, which has been at least partially online for more than a decade.

Clark State is also working on a career enhancement certificate in captioning that would follow the associate’s degree. It would be four additional courses that would give graduates of the court reporting program the skills to go into live captioning for television.

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