Earning a BA Through Distance Education
What’s it like studying online? How will I keep up with my work? Are there lectures I have to attend virtually? Who will I study with, and how will I do group work? Overall, is my online degree going to be as valuable as if I was in class on campus, learning from real people and in person? These were my questions when I started the Bachelors in Health and Community Services at UVic. My decision to study online was so that I could continue to live my life and work in my hometown of Nelson B.C.
Step one, brew a pot of coffee
I’m not sure about you, but my devices don’t turn on before there is coffee. Having been a student for several years I can safely say that most of the baristas in Nelson know me. I love wifi and the cafe university vibe. But day to day I have to have that french press with good organic coffee. Getting up to speed really happened for me in College, where I met with some unexpected challenges. More to come on that…
My starting point was Selkirk College
I started at the local college, completing a Diploma in Liberal Arts. When I transferred to UVic I began my online academic career. Fortunately, many of my college courses were taught online in a platform called Moodle, and is very similar to the Coursespaces platform that UVic uses. So far, so good. I was already familiar with the format of this kind of online learning. I also knew that I needed a program with a definite cohort with semester start and end dates, with assignment due dates and participation in “classroom” discussions. I knew that the open learning concept was not right for me because I needed the accountability that came with a scheduled format.
Stepping into year three at UVic
While people from many disciplines complete their Masters through distance education, I noticed that there were limited options for online learning at the Bachelor’s level. At last I found UVic’s Health and Community Services degree, and fortunately, I am passionate about health, and have been working in some capacity as a health care provider for most of my adult life. Along the way I have met other students in the program and am grateful for these connections throughout the province and across the country. I’ve gotten used to Hangouts for video conferences and working with online platforms like Docs for collaborative projects.
Connecting with teachers can sometimes be a challenge, but most of the instructors I have had make an extra effort to connect students with the course and help them to get engaged in the material. Having an online forum helps tremendously. There are opportunities to engage in online discussion where ideas can be shared with other students and the instructor. The format is fairly simple to use, with options to subscribe by email to forum discussion threads. There are also options for uploading images, sharing links, or embedding videos in the forums.
I think like all things, what we get out of our education what we put in. Being off campus, I am constantly looking for real world experience to validate and challenge my academic understanding. Where academics and career intersect for me, the opportunities that I am most proud of in my work reveal. More to come!
Went in doubt just go out into the world and discover.