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Distance Ed

12 Nov Posted by in Academics, Business | 1 comment
Distance Ed

We recently had a very encouraging Faculty Forum on the subject of Mason’s expanding efforts in distance education. Faculty and staff interest was high. Facilities to allow colleagues in Arlington and Prince William to participate by teleconference worked fairly well (obviously, given the subject, there were ample opportunities for embarrassment here).

I have had expressions of concern from faculty about distance efforts, but — perhaps unfortunately; sometimes I wish concerned folks would take fuller advantage of public forums toward better mutual explanation — none of this surfaced in our discussions. We do try to make it clear that we’re not trying to railroad anyone into doing distance courses, and we’re certainly not viewing distance as a systematic means of lowering costs or diluting educational quality. Indeed, a good bit of the interaction at the forum focused on efforts in assessment and on ways to think of distance programs in terms of learning effectiveness.

What did come through very clearly was the constructive dedication of faculty in a number of different units, and of relevant staff particularly in the Information Technology area, to see distance education advance at the University. While we now have some good central coordination in the distance field, we’ll continue to depend very heavily on individual and local initiatives. It’s also clear that our own training programs in technology-aided instruction increasingly provide relevant personnel and curricular guidance. And there’s no question about audience demand, as we begin to approach the 20% mark in terms of numbers of students involved in at least some distance learning.