Distance Learning–an education in education

Though I have been working in education for a long time, ugh, I haven’t been an actual student alone for some time, and never before in a distance education type of setting (unless you count my adviser being AWOL). Last semester and during the next couple of weeks, I will be trying out two different types of distance education. Since Kent State’s MLIS program is the only one in the state, it offers programs for the entire area, which means that it provides various ways for students to attend classes. Last semester I was in an on-line management class and this intersession, I am in a video conference class.

Years ago, I graded classes for an on-line class and helped with running it, so I thought an on-line class would be easy peesy. However, it was not so. Neither the work nor the readings were particularly onerous, but the direction of the class made it incredibly difficult to complete the assignments. The professor’s expectations were never fully explained, and when questioned he provided little feedback and even less personal assistance. My thoughts on this, is that it is partially due to the format of the class that makes it difficult for some people to pick up the implications of questions. In an in-person class, the teacher can see and hear the ways the students are asking and responding to directions.

Despite this, I am signed up for a video class, where the teacher is teaching a full class in Kent and a full class in Columbus. Today is only the second class, but I’m hoping that the communication will improve between the students and the teacher. In the first class, it was very difficult for the Columbus students to respond to the teacher and the Kent students. As the two classes have students at very different levels of experience in libraries, and distance in the program, it should be interesting to see how the materials are presented.

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4 responses to “Distance Learning–an education in education

  1. I see how frustrating can get when F2F communication is lacking. I am a perfect example of that. I have been in school for the past 11 years and only had couple of online courses. I am used to seeing my instructor in each class time and communicating to a person not to a computer.

    My first experience was nerve racking, but I was able to meet the professor before the start of the course to discuss expectations, so I was at ease. Once I master the web environment which was not an easy task, it took me a while, I felt great about how user-friendly the system was during the 4 week course and the amount of technology learning I received during this time in addition to meeting my course objectives.

    The second experience has been completely different. I have not met, nor have I talk to the professor as of yet. Learning the system has been a challenge. I will have to see how I can survive this new experience and learning challenge as well.

    But this is the reality now, education and learning has changed and will continue to change with technology. With that, there will be pit falls and opportunities. I have seen many students’ receiving degrees without putting one foot in a classroom and they are as successful as those attending a classroom setting.

    I know what you are experiencing, I consider this a learning opportunity, that requires patience and time.

    Good luck in your endeavor to learning.

  2. Absolutely! I think it can vary so much depending on the professor and the software. Personally, I think it is a lot dependent on how much the instructor is willing to work with the students and how much the students are at communicating in written format. I’m not loving these two classes, but it wont sour me on distance education as a whole.

    As to the courses done entirely on-line, I’m hesitant to condemn them as a whole, though I’m leery of them in general as they vary so much in quality. Plus, there are some topics that really require some hands on learning experience, which in some cases makes it difficult to get the feed back from a professor far away.

  3. Christina Getrost

    I just think it is totally amazing that we can teach classes all across the state like this now, not to mention the national reach of the online classes–but I do wonder if, had distance learning been available 15 years ago when I was taking my SLIS classes, I would have taken any that way. I totally agree that there is a lot lacking when you cannot talk to the professor face to face, and I know it’s harder to pay attention for a long stretch to a video monitor as opposed to a real live person in front of you. I hope that my guest-spot talking to Dr. H’s class on Thursday was not too unbearable! 🙂 As a speaker I am *definitely* better at live audiences than video audiences. (Nice blog, by the way!)

  4. I absolutely agree about the difference between in-person guest speakers and video projected presentations. You did an awesome job conveying all the programs and services offered by your library. I did think that it was too bad that we couldn’t have gone on a field trip rather then just a presentation. Maybe in the future Dr H can take the Kent students there and us Columbus folks can go visit a different library that is closer. That would allow us all to see in person how things are set up and run!
    I really like library visits, and have gone on a number in my other classes, and I think they are very important for networking. It has amazed me how many people at SLIS that have never worked in a library, and library visits provide more experience and exposure to other systems even for those who have worked in libraries!

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