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Subject:

Re: Importance of sense of place - bridging the distance

From:

Sandra Whitteker <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 6 May 2004 18:48:51 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (307 lines)

I may be able to shed a little light for you Kerry.  To set the stage for
you, I was a part of a team (of two, most of the time)that developed and
delivered a pilot transitioning a 60 unit Rehab Counseling MS degree to
distance.  Students were rehabilitation counsellors for the CA State Dept of
Rehabilitation, and were located throughout California.  Professors, at the
onset, were new to DE, sometimes new to technology, and didn't really want
or believe in DE.

Over the three years we worked with this cohort, we disovered that there are
many ways to close the distance in the virtual classroom.  Here's a few:

- Much of the sense of belonging comes with a quick response time by
professors. This is critical.  At least acknowledge the email asap and that
you intend to reply.
- Probably unique to our program, someone was assigned to each course to
support both professors and students during course delivery - usually this
was me.  This was often critical.  Students would confide in me and I often
took on the role of advocate.  It was often justified, as distance courses
can easily be overlooked (out of site out of mind), unlike campus courses
where it's pretty obvious when the professor isn't present.
- We introduced the students at the onset, and had them offer a bio, if they
wanted, so they could get to know each other.
- Students often worked in teams on assignments.
- Students got to know each other and their professors VERY well through
message board discussions.
- Although we used videoconferencing (Proshare) at the onset, we didn't find
it that helpful in terms of closing the distance or clarifying course
content, so we soon dispensed with it.  Now, with applications like Horizon
live, Interwise, and the like, it's a different story, since they are
web-based and accessible from individual computers rather than having to
have groups of students having to meet at a nearby site, which was often
miles away from their home/work.  I would think this would contribute a lot
to sense of community and minimizing feelings of isolation.
- I also worked with the professor to design the course structure, materials
and website. One thing that will surely make a student feel isolated is if
the course and materials are not properly structured and organized.  We had
one course like this, where students had to flip around in their workbook,
back and forth, to locate the next bit of information or assignments, and it
was disasterous.  It's a strange idea that this could cause a feelings of
isolation, but not being able to figure out the course content and
assignments in combination with slow response from the professor can cause
students to feel abandoned.

That's all I can think of at the moment.  Hope that helps a little.  :)

Sandi Whitteker
Instructional Designer

-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kerry O'Regan
Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 6:23 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Importance of sense of place


Our counsellors here at Adelaide University (Australia) are concerned at the
numbers of students they are seeing who express a sense of alienation, of
not belonging, of loss of identity. These students move from school where
they have a very strong sense of these things to a situation where being a
student is only one facet of a very complex life, involving at least
part-time work; where they spend little time on campus; where they are
anonymous members of large classes; where they may be studying double
degrees across at least two disparate discipline areas. How can we foster a
sense of identity, a sense of belonging, in universities of the 21st century
- where students come, do what they have to do as quickly as possible, and
then leave?

Susan Jones wrote:
>
> At the NADE conference, a rather common thread throughout all the
> sessions I attended was the importance of students' sense that they
> were part of a community or a group; that they had a place.  As has
> been mentioned, that 'group dynamic' can work in a bad way, too... but
> it's critical.
>
> Susan Jones
> Academic Development Specialist
> Academic Development Center
> Parkland College
> Champaign, IL  61821
> [log in to unmask]
> Webmastress,
> http://www.resourceroom.net
>
> >>> [log in to unmask] 05/06/04 03:03PM >>>
> I want to second Paul on this - in discussing the relative merits of
> online tutoring vs.. interpersonal tutoring, it's critical to consider
> the multi-layered educational benefits of the interpersonal dynamic.
> Our is
> also a peer tutoring program.  Two  of the core principles in which we
> ground our program philosophy are that a) meaningful learning occurs on
> both
> ends of the peer tutoring relationship, and b) students who
> participate
> (both as tutors and tutees) frequently come to develop a sense of place
> and
> of belonging here, and that enabling the development of this
> connectedness
> is critical to retention.
>
> Our tutors are able to help students as well as they do because of
> their content expertise, but also because they have a firsthand
> awareness of the
> nature of student's problems.  Their methods are informed by this
> experience
> and understanding.  They provide emotional support, they scaffold the
> learning, they help students become aware of learning styles and
> develop
> strategic approaches to over coming difficulties.  E-learning
> applications
> may supplement this work in some ways (e.g. by providing learning
> assistance
> at different times and in different spaces) but they certainly can't
> substitute for it.
>
> I'm personally inclined to agree with Paul's interest in raising
> awareness of the market-oriented pressures which inform our work at so
> many levels.
> Clearly there is value in learning technology.  But if we aspire to
> uphold
> the above stated principles, we have to work against discussing it as
> a
> substitute for interpersonal work.
>
> It's finals week here, and a wonderful thing just happened  While I
> was writing this note, a student whom I didn't know stopped into my
> office.
> Without even introducing himself he said "I know you guys are closing
> tomorrow and I just wanted to say thank you.  You've all really helped
> me a
> lot, especially in my calculus and chemistry, and I want to thank
> you."
>
> When I asked him to tell me how we'd been able to help him, he said it
> was the great tutors. He explained that unlike his professors, our
> tutors were
> able to walk him through problems he couldn't understand, try different
> ways
> of explaining things until it made sense to him, and help him to work
> through the problems until he could do them on his own. He said this
> was a
> great place to come to, it really helped him to do better in his
> courses,
> and he was grateful that we were here.
>
> His timing was perfect.
>
> David
>
> David Hayes, Coordinator
> University College Academic Enhancement Center
> Eleanor Roosevelt Hall, 4th Floor
> University of Rhode Island
> Kingston, RI
> (401) 874-2953
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Paul Ellis" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Thursday, May 06, 2004 1:48 PM
> Subject: Online tutoring offered by text publishers
>
> > Whenever we refer students to commercial academic support, there
> > must
> be a
> > cost. This cost usually is quite difficult to determine: either it
> > is
> not
> > mentioned (in discussions like the one on LRNASST) or the pricing
> packages
> > available are complicated and nearly incomprehensible.
> >
> > SmartThinking has been around for a few years now. I once referred a
> student
> > to SmartThinking, only to discover that it was almost as expensive
> as
> Sylvan
> > Learning Center. (The comment that tutoring services, when offered
> by
> > textbook publishers, might affect the costs of textbooks, I think
> > insightful. The comment that though at present textbook publishers
> offer
> > tutoring as a part of the textbook bundle but will probably start
> charging
> > if and when usage increases, I also think insightful.)
> >
> > Maybe some schools charge for tutoring. At NKU, we do not. It is a
> free
> > service offered to all students who need or want the service. I
> > think
> that
> > is an important issue: Access is not based on the ability to pay.
> There
> are
> > other benefits. Since we use peer tutors, we offer NKU students
> on-campus
> > employment. Both the students who provide the service and those who
> consume
> > the service benefit educationally. Extra learning takes place,
> important
> > relationships evolve, greater retention results, and more students
> have
> > enriching educational experiences. There are of course costs, but
> the
> model
> > is educational rather than commercial/corporate/capitalistic. I
> think
> these
> > distinctions are still important.
> >
> > I would, however, like to know exactly how much these commercial
> services
> > cost students, so I can inform students of the cost when I decide to
> refer
> > them for a service we cannot provide.
> >
> > Paul Ellis
> >
> > ******************************************
> > Paul Ellis, Director
> > Learning Assistance Program - BP 230
> > Northern Kentucky University
> > Nunn Drive
> > Highland Heights, KY 41099
> > *******************************************
> > [log in to unmask]
> > TEL 859.572.5611
> > FAX 859.572.5174
> > *******************************************
> > <http://www.nku.edu/~laplearn>
> > <http://tutortrac.nku.edu>
> > *******************************************
> >
> > To unsubscribe,send a message to [log in to unmask]
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> >
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> >
> > To subscribe, send email to [log in to unmask]
> > Leave subject blank.In body type: subscribe LRNASST-L
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--
Kerry O'Regan
Learning & Teaching Development Unit
Adelaide University, AUSTRALIA 5005
Ph    : +61 8 8303 4721
Fax   : +61 8 8303 3553
e-mail: [log in to unmask]

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