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 on the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, Christiansen takes instructions while she can.

“If it have been now not for on line, 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 within the morning earlier than her day starts offevolved. She even takes them in her workplace at work whilst she’s off responsibility.

Christiansen’s goals are the same as another scholar’s — 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 a number of 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.”

In the start, students watched their lessons on interactive tv from UMA’s far flung facilities across the nation. Now they may be everywhere in the international, and forty six% of the university’s classwork is executed on-line, 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 the synchronous magnificence can name a technician and speak to the class and ask or solution questions.

McAleer said students can “sit down at domestic in bunny slippers,” and a hyperlink might “bring their pc into the study room.”

But if a pupil is not able to view or attend classes live — although the electricity goes out, if it’s far the middle of a iciness hurricane or they may be ill, McAleer stated — they can watch pre-recorded class at their convenience.

“Students who watch at night time every now and then have their households watch with them,” she stated.

Director of Advanced Media and Instructional Design Justin Hafford said that the college is licensed to use the product Zoom, net conferencing software program that lets in professors and college students to utilize display screen sharing, video, audio and textual content for a fully immersive enjoy.

The distance education helps college students who are geographically sure to still learn, and it facilitates both school participants and students who are touring.

“The product lets in you to attach from anyplace you have got 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 on-line lessons before I were given started out,” stated Christiansen. “I became pleasantly amazed approximately how user pleasant it was, and the professors are splendid beneficial.”

Hafford said that the era started out as “being very location particular and hardware extensive.

“Now very mobile and ubiquitous and software program primarily based.” He stated it’s also price effective due to the fact people can use equipment they probable have already got, like their phone.

“The hardware within the classroom is disappearing, and it’s extra seamless,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean that the want for the study room and the faraway facilities will go away, he stated.

“Even though it’s miles greater convenient for unique life, our humanity limits us,” he stated. “Humans like community and having peers to observe with and different offerings (like a library and technology). Those will nonetheless be essential to their fulfillment.”

McAleer stated that the 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 due to the fact every body in the elegance is able to do it,” she stated.

Though McAleer doesn’t get to peer many of her college students in person or even recognise what they appear like, she stated that it doesn’t forestall the bonds she and her college students form. She said she learns loads about the man or woman college students via essays.

As the dean of the College of Professional Studies, McAleer stated she meets many of her college students as she fingers them their degree at commencement.

“Now I can put a face with the call,” she stated, “and we’ll hug on degree.”

The instant destiny of generation of distance studying at UMA seems like access to greater software program, Hafford stated.

Down the road, although, he anticipates augmented reality and virtual fact supplying greater interactive and immersive studying possibilities.

“Students might be capable of study in three-D,” he said. As 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.”

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