University of Maine Augusta celebrates its 30th anniversary of distance learning

As a mother of five kids, elderly 11 to 21, and with a complete-time position as supervisor of the transport department at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Christiansen takes instructions while she can. “If it had been now not for online, I might now not do all of it,” she said. Christiansen takes lessons overdue inside the night after she serves dinner and her three younger youngsters, who live at home, go to bed. She takes them early in the morning, earlier than her day starts offevolved. She even takes them to her workplace at work while she’s off responsibility.

Christiansen’s goals are the same as other scholars’ — to expand her competencies and, similarly, her career — and the potential to take instructions remotely method she will be able to achieve this. This is the thirtieth year that UMA has been imparting distance training. The concept of distance schooling at UMA was pioneered with the aid of former president George Connick. “What turned into created in 1989 turned into the first statewide comprehensive distance-gaining knowledge of network within the U.S.,” Connick said in a press launch. “Educators got here from all over the country to analyze first-hand what we were doing.”

“There have been several people looking for education,” said Domna Giatas, government director of planning and communications. “We needed every other way to bring lessons to them rather than have them come to lessons.” At the start, students watched their lessons on interactive tv from UMA’s far-flung facilities nationwide. Now they may be everywhere internationally, and forty-six% of the university’s classwork is executed online, Giatas said. Associate Provost and Dean of the College of Professional Studies Brenda McAleer has been teaching remotely for two decades.


“When I cross into class, I have students in magnificence with me, and the class is broadcasted,” said McAleer. She said college students looking at the synchronous magnificence could name a technician, speak to the class, and ask or solve questions. McAleer said students could “sit down at domestic in bunny slippers,” and a hyperlink might “bring their pc into the study room.” But if a pupil cannot view or attend classes live — although the electricity goes out, if it’s far the middle of an iciness hurricane or they may be ill, McAleer stated — they can watch a pre-recorded class at their convenience.

“Students who watch at night time now and then have their households watch with them,” she stated. Director of Advanced Media and Instructional Design Justin Hafford said the college is licensed to use Zoom products. This net conferencing software program lets professors and college students utilize display screen sharing, video, audio, and textual content fully immersive enjoy. Distance education helps college students who are geographically sure to learn still and facilitates school participants and students who are touring.

“The product lets you attach from any place you have a web connection on any device, along with mobile,” Hafford said. “We picked it because it was smooth to use.” “I had trepidation about doing online lessons before I was given started,” stated Christiansen. “I became pleasantly amazed approximately how user pleasant it was, and the professors are splendidly beneficial.” Hafford said the era started as “being very location particular and hardware extensive. “Now very mobile and ubiquitous and software program primarily based.” He stated it’s also cost-effective because people can use equipment they probably already have, like their phones.

“The hardware within the classroom is disappearing, and it’s extra seamless,” he said. But that doesn’t mean that they want the study room and the faraway facilities will go away, he stated. “Even though it’s miles greater convenient for a unique life, our humanity limits us,” he said. “Humans like community and have peers to observe with different offerings (like a library and technology). Those will nonetheless be essential to their fulfillment.” McAleer stated that technology lets in students who are introverted to be extra successful.

“The college students who would alternatively chew off their tongue in magnificence than participate in dialogue are the ones who craft responses beautifully in the back of the technology.” The discussion board UMA makes use of is Blackboard. “The interaction is so rich because everybody in the elegance can do it,” she stated. McAleer doesn’t get to peer many of her college students in person or even recognize what they appear like, but she stated that it doesn’t forestall the bonds she and her college students form. She said she learns loads about the man or women college students via essays.

As the College of Professional Studies dean, McAleer stated she meets many college students as she fingers them their degrees at commencement. “Now I can put a face with the call,” she said, “and we’ll hug on the degree,” Hafford stated that the instant destiny of a generation of distance studying at UMA seems like access to a greater software program. Down the road, he anticipates augmented reality and virtual fact supplying greater interactive and immersive studying possibilities. “Students might be capable of studying in three-D,” he said. An instance wherein this will be useful would be in anatomy. “In the beyond, we had to paintings with extra physical materials in models and skeletons.”

Travel enthusiast. Certified pop culture ninja. Friendly beer fanatic. Alcohol trailblazer. Writer. Coffee scholar. Baseball fan, mother of 2, fender owner, Saul Bass fan and brand builder. Acting at the fulcrum of art and programing to craft delightful brand experiences. Let's make every day A RAZZLE-DAZZLE MUSICAL.