Hardin Simmons University: Growing a Mission Through Online Learning

Posted by Megan SutherlandO

May 9, 2018

We sat down with Scott Hamm, the Director of Online Education at Hardin Simmons University, to find out how eLearning helped the university expand its mission.


When Scott Hamm began his tenure as the Director of Online Education at Hardin Simmons University four years ago, many faculty members couldn’t see how technology — specifically online learning — would fit into the university’s identity as a faith-based liberal arts institution. Both students and faculty appreciate the benefits of eLearning, but they didn’t want to lose sight of their school’s traditions and values.


But in just a few short years, the Hardin Simmons community has grown to embrace online learning. As more students and faculty have begun taking advantage of the school’s expanded eLearning resources, the university has been able to offer increased flexibility for current students, and expand its reach by offering affordable and accessible courses.


Why Use eLearning?


As Director of Online Education, Hamm’s role is to help the university adapt to the future. “I came in to help the school expand its online footprint,” he says. “We all knew that technology was only going to become more and more important in higher education settings. My job was to ensure we found the right LMS and integration tools to navigate the transition.”


His approach was to ensure educators didn’t feel forced to use new technology but to help them see the benefits it could offer on their own. Although some educators were hesitant, they soon saw the positive impact that robust eLearning resources could have for their students. “Hardin Simmons is located in West Texas, and a lot of our students work,” says Hamm. “And many of our students  — 20 percent of the student population — are athletes who are on the road. A face-to-face class format just doesn’t always work as well for them. Online learning opportunities make it easier for them to regulate their learning, not to mention they’re more affordable.”


Flexibility for Students and Faculty


Hoonuit’s online learning tools have played a key role in the university’s efforts to expand its online offerings and have provided a way for professors to share vetted, high-caliber resources with students. “Our instructors like Hoonuit because they don’t have to recreate the wheel. They don’t have to create links to YouTube or let the student go rogue browsing the web for resources,” Hamm explains. “They have access to everything in one place, where they can track progress, grade assignments, and collect data on what modules the students have or have not participated in.”


Hoonuit also integrates seamlessly into nearly any learning management system (LMS), meaning educators don’t need to juggle yet another digital platform. “With Hoonuit, we have access to reliable, vetted, quality online learning, but we can also integrate that with our LMS,” Hamm says.


He and the rest of the faculty recognize that students are looking for a way to have more control over their learning, especially in how they consume educational materials. Using Hoonuit, students are free to log in and complete lessons on their own time. According to Hamm, “it really helps us to be responsive to our students, and also helps us build and evolve our courses more quickly.” In this way, Hoonuit has allowed the university to meet students’ diverse and changing needs.


Looking Ahead


In addition to providing on-demand resources for students, Hoonuit’s eLearning resources have helped the university chart a path into the future. In fact, the school is currently developing an online MBA program — something Hamm says would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.


In the next few years, Hamm and his colleagues plan to continue to meet the needs of their student body and the surrounding community by making it easier for students to learn on their own time. “This is a faith-based mission for us to expand access, to make education affordable, and to respond to the marketplace,” says Hamm. “Hoonuit has given us the ability to do that using a tool that’s quality, and that is trusted.”


Discover how Hoonuit’s online learning tools can set your community up for success.


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