Distance Education is a way of using technology to engage in teaching and learning that bridges the student and instructor across physical distance. This instructional system allows the College to increase greatly the quantity and quality of course selections we can offer.
Many students find the flexibility and convenience that Distance Education classes often provide an additional benefit in meeting their educational needs. However, before enrolling in any distance education course, it is important to understand the nature of the class format and what it will expect of you as a student.
Below you will find some information designed to introduce some basic concepts of Distance Education. Be sure to check out the self-evaluation--and no matter what, always ask questions.
Definitions and Descriptions:
Web-Based Courses are available to students who have a computer with an Internet connection. You will receive instructional material via the Internet and communicate with your instructor and other students through e-mail and electronic bulletin boards.
If you are interested in taking a web course, you should be aware that certain skills are necessary to succeed in the mode of learning. You should possess fundamental computer and academic competencies, including:
- Good reading and writing skills
- Keyboarding skills
- Word processing skills
- Internet navigation skills
- E-mail sending and receiving skills
- Distance learning software skills (Web CT and Blackboard)
A hybrid class combines face-to-face learning with online learning. Depending on the setup of the class, a hybrid course may have varying ratios of face-to-face and online component. Typically, a hybrid course meets 25%, 50%, or 75% percent of the time in the classroom and the rest online.
Video Distance Learning Courses (VDL):
The video distance courses provide "real-time" instruction. Through the use of technology, you can see and hear your instructor at all times though you are located in different geographic locations. You can ask questions and your instructor can provide immediate feedback. The majority of these courses require fundamental skills such as e-mailing and discussion boards. If registering for one of these courses, Students must attend a distance learning orientation session.
Like video distance learning, web conferencing courses provide interactive "real-time" instruction in which you are able to hear the instructor at all times through the use of speakers on your personal computer. Students are required to be online at pre-determined hours each week and must have a microphone to talk to the instructor and other students.
- You will find that most web based courses are not self-paced courses, you are expected to meet class/assignments due dates. Your instructor determines the design of the course (for example, whether you have to be logged on at a certain time for a live chat).
- You must have daily access to the website through your own computer, the college's access centers, a computer lab terminal, or other outside terminals (libraries, work, , etc.).
- You must have the required software for each course you are taking (some software must be downloaded from the Internet).
- You are responsible for checking the course website and email several times a week for updates.
- You may be required to take an orientation course or training for approval/entry into an online class.
- Distance education, especially web based and hybrid courses require a high degree of motivation and self discipline on your part due to the lack of daily contact with the instructor.
Should I consider enrolling in a distance learning course?
Distance learning courses require a high degree of commitment on your part. You need to be a self-motivated and independent learner. If you tend to wait until the last minute to finish assignments and readings, this type of learning is not recommended.
What software and hardware do I need for web-based courses?
Students must have a computer with independent internet connectivity (software requirements and dependent on the course format)
How do I gain access to the web-based class?
Students can gain access to their class only after they have been officially registered for that course. Staff will contact students with information as to the appropriate password and user name for each class.
Can I gain access to these classes on campus?
Yes, students may use college computers to complete the assigned work for a distance learning class. Computers are available at each Discovery Center throughout Eastern's service district.
Where do I go for testing?
Your tests may be given online at a designated site or you may be required to take the test at the closest Discovery Center or the Moorefield Campus.
How does the instructor receive my work?
For Internet classes, your work will be submitted electronically. For example, by e-mail, electronic drop boxes, or message boards. Hybrid class work may be submitted electronically or may need to be mailed to the instructor. VDL course materials are generally mailed/or faxed to the instructor by the classroom facilitator. Your instructor will provide details for submission in your course syllabus.
Characteristics of Students who Succeed in Distance Learning:
- Highly motivated to achieve
- Independent learner
- Active learner
- Adaptable to changes and new ways of doing things
A distance learner must be self-reliant. Self-reliance means:
- the ability to take responsibility for learning
- knowing how to set goals and standards
- knowing how to conduct library research
- having initiative having the ability to manage time
- having the ability and willingness to evaluate yourself and others critically
Taking responsibility for your learning means that you make a conscious commitment to the learning task. Among other things, this includes:
- making the time necessary to study and following through with our schedule
- making your weaknesses and taking action to strengthen them
- asking for help or clarification when you need it
- learning to say no to things that interfere with your goal
- staying motivated
- finding ways to meet needs that you cannot meet by yourself
- fostering an idea of yourself as an active learner, not a passive receiver, of knowledge
Self-Evaluation--Questions to Ask Yourself Before Enrolling in a Distance Education Course:
Are you self-motivated?
Do you complete what you start?
Are you able to work independently with little direction?
Do you have self-discipline?
Do you believe that learning is ultimately your responsibility?
Do you have good reading and writing skills?
Can you read books and easily comprehend what is being said?
Are you comfortable using the Internet?
Are you able to learn new computer skills and software that may be needed for a course?
Are you able to easily express yourself in writing?
Will you ask for help if needed or if a problem arises?
If you answered "yes" to all or most of the questions, you are probably ready for a distance education course.