When technology is used properly, it can truly change lives. Just ask Jim Wuwert.

“I got a master’s degree in counseling at Wake Forest University back in 1999 and I wanted to go back but the option just didn’t work for me, just wasn’t practical,” said Wulwert who now is married with three children and he works, full-time.

“So, the online version of business school was the most attractive – I mean, it fit for the family,” said Wuwert.

The online version he refers to is from UNC Greensboro, one of the schools that embrace online learning early, with its first online program up and running by 2002.

But you’d barely recognize those classes by what you can get, online, today.

“The technology change has been huge,” says Professor Bill Brown who taught his first online class at UNCG’s Bryan School of Business about 12 years ago.

“Faculty members can change things on the fly that day, create new content, they don’t need any help from a programmer or anybody like that so I think that’s been the biggest change,” said Brown. “The very first ones that UNCG were really somebody else was building the course – a programmer, right? And the faculty member had limited ability to go in and change or update something. We sort of quickly moved, by the time the Bryan School really launched full-scale programs we had the ability of faculty members to go in and change some content.”

That kind of dedication to making online courses not just a fill-in for in-person learning but an educational destination, in a way, was key to US News & World Report ranking rating UNCG’s offerings highly. US News evaluated more than 1,700 online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and UNCG had programs ranked in 8 of the 10 categories.

Professor Brown says the value goes beyond older, graduate students like Jim Wuwert.

“If you’re a traditional-age college student and it’s in the early morning or it’s in the afternoon, right after lunch and you walk into an hour-and-fifteen minute lecture in a lecture hall, paying attention for that entire time is really difficult. At some point, you space out. Even the greatest ‘sage on the stage,’ can’t keep you engaged that whole time,” said Brown. “One of the advantages of online, you can go back and watch – you’ve got recorded content, you can go back and watch that video over and over.”

And Wuwert likes the fact that you don’t have to be, “all in,” if you want to see if online learning is right for you.

“What they allow you to do, if you’re curious, is take a class or two without making a full commitment to a full degree,” said Wuwert.

See more about UNCG’s online curricula success in this edition of the Buckley Report.