The Virtual Site is the center of all of the Off-Site Locations distance learning activities. Faculty and staff work hard to integrate all aspects of distance education initiatives, such as curriculum planning, technology support and course management, partnership development and logistical operations.
A key element to the successful operation of the division’s distance learning initiatives is to ensure collaboration between all off-campus sites. From academic policy issues to resource planning and technological allocations, both faculty and staff are instrumental to the success of not just the Virtual Site, but to all off-site locations initiatives as well.
Today's adult learners are influencing the outcome of distance learning programs. How’s that, one may say? Choices are wide and varied for online graduate degree programs. Those universities that respond to the needs of students will succeed.
The administration embraces effective course management systems and teaching strategies that utilize the latest technology. Ted Richardson, senior associate dean says in conclusion, “We serve the entire world with our distance learning options. Students attend the Virtual Campus anywhere—from Montreal, Quebec, to Monterey, California, and from Saudi Arabia to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Our goal is to remain current in technology and hire the best faculty we can.”
How do I know distance learning is right for me?
Distance learning can be a great alternative to students who do not have the time or ability to get to a campus classroom. Online learning provides the opportunity for those students who enjoy working independently. Many students have reported learning more in online classes than in the traditional classroom setting.
But distance learning is not for everyone. The methods of teaching differ greatly from traditional classroom courses in terms of how the material is presented and the nature of the interaction among class members. You may find that distance learning is not compatible with your learning style.
Is distance learning is right for you?
Consider the following: Scheduling and time management
Distance learning students can sometimes end up neglecting their studies because of personal or professional circumstances, unless they have compelling reasons for taking the course.
Online courses often require at least as much time and commitment as traditional courses.
Learning styles and organization
Distance learning courses give students greater freedom of scheduling, but they can require more self-discipline than on-campus classes. In traditional courses, students meet face-to-face with the instructor and each other at least once a week. However, in online courses most activities and communication are asynchronous, meaning that students complete their assignments at different times throughout the day and week, depending on their schedule. Distance learning allows students flexibility and convenience, but requires responsibility. Without the structure of regular class meetings, it will be up to the students to pace themselves and keep up with assignments.
Being part of a class
Some students prefer the independence of distance learning courses; others find it uncomfortable.
Print materials are the primary source of directions and information in distance learning courses.
If you are generally intimidated by technology and avoid it at all costs, an online course may not be right for you.
Computers and the Internet
The personal computer is the primary learning and communication tool in most online courses. Students need to have basic technology skills (such as using word processing software and Web browsing) as well as regular access to a computer with an Internet connection.
Communication and classroom discussion
People learn in different ways. Some students learn best by interacting with others, some prefer to read and review on their own. Distance learning courses vary with the amount of opportunity for group interaction. Even high levels of group interaction in an online course will differ from interaction within a traditional face-to-face course. Students who feel that they will miss seeing and listening to their classmates and instructors, or want to experience campus life, may not be happy taking online courses.
Assignment directions and guidance
Distance learning courses require you to work from written directions without face-to-face instructions.
Confidence in discussing problems with instructors
Students who do well in distance learning courses are usually comfortable contacting the instructor as soon as they need help with the course. Instructors need to know right away if students are having problems with technology or course content.
Successful students are normally highly motivated and have developed good study skills.
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