So this wordle is of my blog at this point. The word “Group” sticks out so I must be using that term frequently. The words “distance, rain, drought, feeders, one, and faculty” are next. So I will talk about being part of groups.
I belong to several groups. The work group is about 4 people in the same room with one another and 10 or so people that frequently visit the room. There is a group dynamic. Each of us are good at one or more different tasks. It all centers around distance education. One person specializes on technology hardware, another specializes on media development, another on trouble shooting courses, and finally another specializes in course development. But we can also do each others speciality.
Another group is quite different. A bunch of clowns that I play golf with each year. About 20 people that play weekly, or in tournaments, or in the annual Sasso Memorial. Actually you have to be able to play a fairly decent round of golf to be a part of the group. Nobody is a beginner. But handicaps vary from 3 to 25. And there is always a game to play for a quarter a point. Sometimes I win 5 dollars, sometimes I loose 5 dollars.
Another group is the satsang group. There are a few people that get together to talk about spirituality, though the discussion invariably turns to our love of animals. Occasionally there are trips to regional or national meetings and seminars. Many people in the group I’ve known for 20 years. It is somewhat akin to group therapy I guess.
So the next tier in the wordle includes the word “distance”. And I am very familiar with that term. Distance is what I do. As media developer for continuing education at the University of Iowa I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen highly successful classes and those that don’t even have the numbers of students to go online. I don’t think enrollment is a complete metric of success. A required course that goes online is going to be successful. Sometimes going online is the only alternative to having your program cancelled. Distance means tapping into the region and students that can’t travel to Iowa City to take a course. But ironically distance also means taking a course online even if you live in Iowa City. Distance gives students options for enrollment. But I was surprised how many distance students are actually in Iowa City.
Is distance a threat to F2F (face-to-face)? I don’t know. It doesn’t have to be. Distance really means staying current with technology and student expectations. Our aim is to make “distance” at least as good as F2F. There are two goals of distance. One is to provide students more options to graduate on time. The other is to provide students with a diversity of courses to chose from. The question is where is the money and where is the beef? The money is in compensation to faculty that run the distance courses. The beef is in the technology and strategies faculty use in the distance course.