Written by Kelsey Beninger; Originally published at olt.ubc.ca.
Stephanie Bertrand-Nicoll is no stranger to distance education. Having taken eight courses by distance in the past, enrolled in one currently, and registered to take two more next term, there must be a reason why she keeps coming back! The flexibility, personal control, and convenience are just some of the reasons why Stephanie has “done as many courses as possible by distance education during [her] undergrad [time] at UBC.”
Stephanie is a 4th year Linguistics Major and is enrolled in PSYC 320: Psychology of Gender this term. This course explores the meaning and influence of gender on every aspect of life and provides a foundation for understanding the role gender plays in influencing men and women. PSYC 320 has been organized into three units to direct the course content in a meaningful and easy to navigate format. Learning about the Foundations for the Study of Gender, the Gender Constellation, and the Connections and Future Directions through a variety of assignments enables students to grasp a firm hold on the intricacies of gender.
Stephanie explains the kinds of activities and assignments required of students in this course; “this course requires the students to participate in online forums, group assignments, write journal entries, read from three different textbooks, listen to episodes from a radio show, and participate in teleconferences.” The incredible variety in activities in PSYC 320 offers alternatives for shy students who may not feel comfortable making presentations in on-campus courses. Stephanie shares that she is, “not always brave enough to participate in class on campus, but it’s really easy to participate [online] via the forums. And the teleconference presentations are much less intimidating than in-class presentations!”
The nature of the assignments and activities requires a high level of student interaction in this course. Working together on group assignments and participating in online forum discussions has students sharing perspectives and ideas on topics relevant to the discussion of gender. Stephanie notes that a great benefit for this kind of involvement in an online course is being “in groups with students who live on the other side of Canada.” This provides another degree of learning in that students can share examples from their own community and provide an alternative lens for critically examining gender.
The high degree of interaction is not limited to the students. Stephanie finds it, “easy to communicate with the professor. [The professor] monitors and participates in the discussion forums and is easily accessible by email.” This provides extensive guidance in learning as students gain from one another while receiving expert opinion and feedback from the professor. This is an exciting alternative for Psychology students, who might be used to attending campus classes in the large lecture halls not conducive to discussion or interaction.
The advantages of online courses are numerous for Stephanie. “I don’t have to make the commute to campus, I can study around my part-time jobs and I meet and interact with people from many places outside BC.” We can see now why she takes as many distance courses as she can!
Stephanie’s previous distance courses include: AUDI 402: Neuroanatomy for Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, ENGL 303: Intermediate Composition, ENGL 329: The Structure of Modern English, EOSC 314: The Ocean Environment, FNH 200: Exploring Our Food, FREN 348: French Literatures in Translation I, FREN 349: French Literatures in Translation II, and PSYC 314: Health Psychology.