The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

DL students discuss ways to succeed online

By Megan Saint-John/reporter

Every student has obligations off campus, and distance learning courses have given TCC students the flexibility to attend college while fulfilling other responsibilities since 1973.

Distance learning director Kevin Eason said DL courses are a great alternative for students who do not learn well sitting in class with an instructor.

“Students and faculty can decide when and where they want to participate in the learning experience,” he said. “They can do so from a TCCD library or faculty office or from a restaurant with wireless Internet while on vacation in Europe.”

TCC offers two DL options, instructional television and Internet. Internet courses are accessed through a virtual classroom in which an instructor gives students weekly assignments, quizzes or readings preparing them for exams taken online or on-campus, Eason said.

In the virtual classroom, students can access their grades, discussion boards, class syllabus, chat rooms and other resources, he said.

NE student Tyler Norton said most of his web homework was uploaded directly to his instructor, but some assignments required interaction with other classmates.

Jacqueline Manzano, a part-time DL student, likes the convenience of distance learning classes.

“You can work at your own pace whenever you want, wherever you want, but you will have periodic assignments to turn in, and this will keep you in line and on track,” she said.

Internet courses are a great compromise between traditional classes and ITV courses, Manzano said.

ITV courses provide students with video lessons accessible through cable, Internet on-demand, on-campus viewing, DVD and VHS.

“I like ITV classes the best,” Norton said. ”The only grades are three or four tests. I can go to the testing center whatever time of day I want.”

ITV exams are taken at testing centers on campus, and some courses may require on-campus activities, Eason said. Students may consider these trips hassles, but the overall conveniences of DL courses are worth it, he said.

Manzano believes students need to be aware of how ITV classes are structured.

“Since there are no assignments or quizzes leading up to the exams, it takes a lot of self-discipline to do an ITV course,” Manzano said.

Norton said he excelled in ITV courses by completing and studying the reviews that his instructors posted online.

He takes the quizzes in the exercise book that coordinates with the textbook to check his progress and understanding of lessons, he said.

“Taking on-campus classes, my schedule works around school, but with ITV, school works around my schedule,” he said.

Eason said DL classes not only benefit students’ schedules but their competency with computers and technology.

“Technology has dramatically impacted how students learn as well as how things are done in the workplace,” he said. “Students who leave college having taken numerous online courses can use this to substantiate to future employers that they are Internet- and technology-savvy.”

Some DL classes reach capacity minutes after registration begins, Eason said, so students should be prepared to register immediately. Once enrolled in a DL course, Eason said that logging into the virtual classroom frequently and keeping in touch with the instructor through e-mails or meetings are necessary to succeed.

Manzano said other students also make good resources.

“Do contact other classmates for concerns, questions, studying,” she said. “This will help you in the class and make you feel less alone. You will probably find that other students are having the same issues as you.”

Norton said he completes assignments and studies for exams on his days off from work and has always finished by the due date. Manzano writes all of her assignments on a calendar and looks at it everyday to keep herself on track.

“I make sure to schedule study time often and set mini-goals for myself,” she said.

Eason said students curious if DL courses are right for them should take the Readiness for Education at a Distance Indicator assessment at http://tccd.readi.info/.

“After taking the READI assessment, which takes approximately 20 minutes, students should know the following about themselves: on-screen reading rate and recall, technical competency, individual attributes, preferred learning styles and typing speed and accuracy,” he said.

The student will receive the results immediately through e-mail, and the assessment is open to all students who want to evaluate their skills, Eason said.

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