Learning is changing and higher education is facing challenges and opportunities in the digital world.
US Representative Kristi Noem met with administration and students in South Dakota Universities to talk about online learning.
Overlooking The University Center in Sioux Falls, Representative Kristi Noem wants to get to the bottom of challenges educators face while taking course work from the classroom to online.
After an unexpected heart surgery, University of South Dakota student Kelsey Schumann had to leave campus and learn online.
"Online learning did wonders for me because I was able to take a full credit load, so 12 credits, four classes online so I did not have to stop my education although I was sick for three months," Schumann said.
With an estimated one-third of college students turning to e-learning in the state, administrators face unique challenges. Dakota State University Director of Extended Programs Peg O'Brien says the most difficult is State Authorization - where schools in South Dakota must jump through confusing hoops to offer online education to students in other states.
"The phrase you're going to hear all of the time is, it depends. You ask a meeting at a conference, in a webinar, what is New Mexico doing? How do I get authorization in New Mexico? Well, it depends," O'Brien said.
Noem used e-learning while obtaining her degree in 2011. As co-founder of the bipartisan Congressional E-Learning Caucus, she now wants input for future higher education legislation that's coming before congress.
"What I was surprised about when I got to congress, there is not a caucus that specifically talks about e-learning. A lot of members of congress haven't gone to school in a long time so they don't recognize how the modern way of learning is happening," Noem said.
Noem is hoping to take the lessons she's learning here to make things easier for educators both in South Dakota and across the country.
For South Dakota universities to get out-of-state authorization for e-learning, it can cost several thousand dollars.