Distance Education Frequently Asked Questions
July/August Question of the month: How do I waive my student health insurance plan since I am already covered by a policy?
- Answer: Go to this link and fill in the information.
- What is distance education?
- Distance Education (DE), also known as Distance Learning (DL), is simply learning from a distance, usually from home, or from a conveniently-located, off-campus site.
- Do distance education courses look as good on my transcript as on-campus courses?
- The courses are accredited and taught by experienced instructors. On the transcript, there is no difference between the on-campus and distance education courses.
- What type of learner successfully completes these courses?
- Take our self-assessment quiz to see what types of characteristics make distance education a good fit for you.
- How can I be sure that I will succeed?
- The most important prerequisite is that you be a well-organized and independent learner. Although you will be able to contact the instructor, there may be no one looking you in the face and telling you when to complete the assignments. You will have to develop your own structure and be able to work on your own.
Just as in other classes, some of your success is related to how well you integrate yourself into the class. In other words, if you keep in regular contact with the instructor and ask questions when you do not understand the material or instructions, you will help yourself. In addition, if you find other reliable students in the class to work with, you will be much more likely to succeed.
- Do we use computers for all distance courses?
- Computers are required for online courses, and many ITV, CV and Web instructors also require that you participate in computer conferencing and complete certain assignments on line. The University of Maine System uses a convenient and easy-to-learn software package called BlackBoard. Your instructor will provide you with the basics for getting started.
Take UC's computer skills quiz to see in what areas your computer skills may need improvement before beginning an online class. You can also check with Linda Schofield and her staff for assistance in Room 117C of Torrey hall, phone 255-1241, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is also a University College (UC) help-line at 1-800-696-4357 or email@example.com.
- How do I know what courses are available?
- For UMM courses, click here. For courses available throughout the UMS system, click here.
- Can I use the library? Can I get financial aid? Can I get writing help?
- As a distance education student, you have access to all student services. UMS library services are also available at: https://learn.maine.edu/library/
- Sometimes I have trouble logging on. Who can I contact for help?
- Contact tech support at 1-800-696-4357 (HELP) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The UMM helpdesk is also available at 207-255-1237 or by email@example.com>email.
- How do I get my books?
- Textbooks for classes originating from UMM are available at the UMM Online Bookstore. You must order your books and course materials (perhaps including your syllabus) as early as possible.
Textbooks will be shipped UPS to your address. Allow several days for delivery. You will receive your syllabus and any course materials you ordered with your book. Please contact the staff at the Distance Ed office if you need further assistance.
- What other University College help is available?
- See the University College QuickGuides: http://learn.maine.edu/services/student-services/quick-guides/
- Or the student resources page: http://www.learn.maine.edu/students/
- Can I get financial aid?
- Visit UMM's Financial Aid Department, or for UMS students, visit http://machias.edu/financial-aid.html.
- I have special needs. Can accommodations be made? How do I make arrangements? Who do I contact?
- If you have special needs, please visit http://machias.edu/disability-services.html. You are encouraged to make contact as soon as possible because it may take some time to make arrangements. You may contact Jo-Ellen Scribner for more information.
- How much do online courses cost at UMM?
- Find out here.
- How do online courses work?
- Students taking Internet courses complete assignments at their own computers and communicate with their instructor by e-mail and/or phone. Students complete assignments, take tests, and complete all other coursework just as they would in an on-campus class. Almost all courses require textbooks. Some courses require proctored exams.
- What are some advantages of on-line (asynchronous) courses?
- Distance learning allows students freedom and flexibility to take courses that may fit better into their schedules or courses that are not available nearby. Many people who are balancing jobs and family with school enjoy the freedom of being able to schedule their classes around their lives. Some, though not all, online courses allow you to set your own pace. With more time to carefully reflect on your answers, the discussions online are often much more thoughtful and in-depth than in-class discussions.
- What are some cons of on-line (asynchronous) courses?
- It is important to realize that, like on-campus courses, distance education courses are a big commitment of time and energy. People who tend to procrastinate can find that without a scheduled meeting time, online courses very easy to put off and you could find yourself too far behind to fully catch up. You will want to make sure to log in and work at least several times a week. Some people recommend that you schedule a time for participating and be sure to make that appointment for "attending class". Web-based discussion boards and chats are not a complete a replacement for the back-and-forth interactions of a classroom discussion or the social interactions that can bloom there. You will have to invest some time in simply learning to get around the course site.
- How do I learn how to work the website? How does Blackboard work?
- Attend an Orientation at one of the UMS centers, use the tutorial available here, and/or contact Linda Schofield, Distance Education Technologist, for additional help.
ITV & CV DISTANCE COURSES
- How do ITV & CV courses work?
- (Please visit the Terms & Technology for definitions.)
Taking an ITV course is very similar to taking a regular course on-campus, except the professor is lecturing from the video screen and participation is done over a phone provided for that purpose. You may be on-campus or at any of the other sites in Maine where the course is offered. Click here for locations of other distance ed sites.
You must attend classes regularly, study diligently, and complete your work. If you are taking a course that is broadcast from UMM, you sit in the classroom just as you would any other class. The only difference is that there is a great deal of studio equipment in the room.
If you have any questions, you may call or email the campus. Many of these courses use a web site for managing assignments and paperwork. Assignments and exams may also be left with your site coordinator, Linda Schofield.
- What if I have to miss a class?
- Though it's never a good idea to miss a class, all ITV classes are videotaped; therefore, you may view the class through BlackBoard’s CourseCast. Though you will not be able to respond to the material in the same fashion you normally would, you will be able to stay caught up. You can then contact your instructor if you have any questions.
CV classes are very similar to ITV classes. The most-notable difference is that the professor and all students in all locations can interact in real time. Some but not all CV classes have the CourseCast option, so if you must miss a CV class you will need to make arrangements in advance to have the class recorded. Linda Schofield can assist with this.
- How is it different if I am taking a course delivered from another campus?
- Though you will not have the special brand of instructors available at UMM, you will find other excellent instructors throughout the state. The main difference is that you will not be in the same physical classroom as the instructor. For ITV classes, if you call the classroom on a regular basis, however, you will feel like a regular part of the class. After a few classes, you will likely forget the fact that you are at a different site, and you will be able to focus entirely on the learning process.
- Any other tips for non-traditional students?
- Don't worry that you are out of practice at learning. It will come right back to you. Often, we find that non-traditional students are more successful because they have real-world experience and are more focused on their goals. Here are some tips from About.Com for non-traditional students re-entering the world of academia: http://adulted.about.com/od/tipsforadultstudents/tp/Collection-Of-Tips-For-Adult-Students.htm.
- More distance education FAQs from University College:
- I have a question that was not answered on this page!
- Email Linda Schofield at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 207-255-1241 or visit the Distance-Ed office located in Room 117C Torrey Hall. UMM's Distance-Education staff will make sure that you get the assistance you require.