By Zach Srnis
The typical college experience for most is to live on or near the university campus. Some students, however, have to use video conferencing to attend class. Lorain County Community College has a program that allows students to attend several Ohio universities online without having them be present in class.
They are students that live at home, miles away from campus, unable to commute and rely on the distance learning system to attend the same classes that on campus students can physically attend. To make learning easier for both on campus students and distance learners, follow these few steps.
- Show some courtesy
Off-campus students would appreciate if there was more of an effort to give them courtesies that are commonly given to students who physically attend class.
“We would like a chance to give our input,” Kim Teodecki, an off-campus student, said. “Being able to interact with both the professor and the other students is why we are here. It is too easy for students to drown out or answer a question before the distance learners have a chance to push their button for input. Being able to answer questions or ask our own in an intrical part of the learning process for us.”
- Keep us in the know
Students that are not on campus don’t always know what is going on, even though they want to.
“We want to still be part of what goes on, on campus. I know I’d be thankful for the outreach,” Bao Le, another student who takes classes at YSU via the distance learning system, said.
- Closing or Day Off
A professor may mention a day off to the class or there could be a weather cancellation that an off-campus student may not know about.
“I have gone to class in the past and have sat there without knowing that school had been cancelled,” Alan Lewis, an off-campus student, said. “We can’t know everything that happens, and professors can be forgetful at times, so we would appreciate the assistance.”
- Help the professor
Not every instructor is tech savvy, and that can severely impact the education that off-campus students get.
“Microphones are often not turned on or sometimes they do not remember to put them on,” Lewis said. “Please remind the professor to both use his microphone and include us; any help is appreciated.”
- Be understanding
Students that are distance learners are at an obvious disadvantage. Those students who are physically with the professor should be aware and understanding of that fact.
“We may need to clarify certain points or have the professor repeat him or herself. The barrier between the rest of the class and us can be greater than you think at times,” Teodecki said.
- Group Projects
Group projects in the distance learning environment can be difficult. This is especially the case when two students who do not have the opportunity to talk face to face are paired for an important assignment.
“We need to do the best we can to simulate a typical group project process,” Lewis said. “It would be easy to forget the distance learners and move on with the project without them. Make the effort to contact us and keep us in the loop. I have had people who were assigned to work with me not answer my emails or make the attempt to [include me].”
- Final Thoughts
The situation isn’t easy or normal, but any additional effort that can be put in by on-campus learners is a big help.
“The process is one that can work and can improve if we can get some help from you guys,” Lewis said. “I truly believe that the learning process can be furthered by the distance learning technology, and that it will only get better from here.”