Distance Education provides convenient alternatives

It has become essential for many students to incorporate Distance Education into their schedule whether their time is consumed with activities, work or a family.

Distance Education (DE) is UVU’s way of catering to students without sufficient time available to take courses on campus.

“I work a full time position, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If it wasn’t for online courses, I would not be able to complete my degree,” said UVU student Shaylene Nistler.

Through offering online, television broadcast, DVD/VHS and live interactive classes, the DE staff aims to accommodate the various learning styles of their students.

The online classes are always accessible, with the rare exception of online construction preventing full use. Although the majority of these classes are completed online, they do sometimes require proctored tests. They allow you to interact through email and discussion boards.

The television courses allow you to view a professor teaching regular lessons, but they are pre-recorded and there is minimal interaction. Students in these courses must rely on online communication.

The live interactive classes are taught on the UVU campus and broadcast to different sites throughout Utah. Each student enrolled in the course, on or off campus, has both a camera and microphone so their questions and comments can be heard by the entire participating class. They generally utilize blackboard for assignments and quizzes, but a facilitator on each site is in charge of proctoring exams, managing students and mediating class materials between sites.

Professors for any course can always be contacted by phone and students have access to various online components such as a math lab, writing lab and peer tutoring.

“Some students choose DE thinking the courses are going to be easier, when they are generally harder because the learning is largely up to the student,” said Karen Merrick, the Assistant Director of UVU Distance Education Support Services. “For other students it is the best option and there is no other way they could have possibly finished their education without it.”

Although there are many positives to taking advantage of the DE program, student feedback describes a few negatives.

“Online courses involve too much busy work, too many reading assignments, too many tests and quizzes, and too many hard deadlines. Overall, I felt like I worked a lot harder, and retained a lot less.” Nistler said. “It’s definitely not the preferred way by any means, especially in my Communications degree in which communicating, class discussion and participation are part of the learning experience.”

“These classes aren’t for everyone, the students who will succeed in these courses will be the ones who are willing to take their education in their own hands,” Merrick said. “If a student really needs to have that face to face interaction with the teacher then they probably really shouldn’t take an online class.”

For more information, visit their website at www.uvsc.edu/disted/

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