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Handbook of Distance Education

I’ve known for many years that I wanted a Masters degree [in what? ] and that my time commitments to achieve this goal would be considerable. As a mother who also works full-time, there are already many aspects of my life that I have to juggle. Comparing AIU Online Virtual Campus (VC) with the regular brick and mortar campuses led to the discovery that the online option would fit my busyness lifestyle. AIU would give me the advantage of working at times suited to me, whether at school or at uni, as long as I had access to a computer.

Reflecting on the observations of Moore (2007) I recognized the benefits for my personal and my family’s health in finding a campus that allowed flexibility which my 21st century lifestyle required. The primary reason that I signed onto AIU was the opportunity to complete my degree in ten months by taking an accelerated program [in what? ]. With my decision to enroll in the master’s program at AIU there was a feeling for me of a burden lifting. The virtual campus features that I would use most are; the e-Learning Library for research; discussion boards and forums; and the interactive lesson plans.

Access to books, articles and other library resources, without actually having to go to the university library is a distinct advantage in my life, where time and family/work commitments constrain when and where I can be somewhere. The online library also provides a wealth of resources not available “off the shelf”, such as access to e-Journals, databases, discipline specific sites, and theses and dissertations from across the globe. The campus community formed through the use of online forums and discussion boards will aid my understanding of new knowledge that I am learning.

I will be able to consider other peoples interpretations, ask and answer questions, swap resources and insights and by the looks of it create some wonderful friendships as well! The interactive learning resources include podcasts of lecture materials that I can upload to my mobile phone (technology is amazing! ). Class material and email is also available on video which can be uploaded onto my pc or mobile phone. This is an amazing way for me to engage with the learning material and to undertake tasks at times that suit me, such as when waiting in line at the supermarket or whilst on my morning jog.

Enhanced engagement with materials aids learning (Zhang, Zhao, Zhou, & Nunmaker, 2004). The area I am least familiar with is the Virtual Commons; perhaps because I am not interested at this time in focusing on the social aspect of my graduate program. The Commons appears to be a highly social area of cyberspace, and due to my time constraints I am more interested in spending my spare time doing something for me. However, I did join the New Students Club so I will have some social contacts, although the Club will also help me to stay on track with studies and I won’t feel so alone in this new learning experience.

Many hours have I spent logged onto the Virtual Campus. I attended the orientation more than once which has helped me to become very familiar navigating the site. I like that I can do the tours as many times as I need to do them. The Open House and Advisors Top Ten Tips are my favorites. I find the touring feature to be very advantageous to helping me with my graduate studies [how so? ]. The advantages of the learning environment of the virtual campus as compared to regular physical campuses are numerous. Flexibility of my learning experiences is the most positive aspect of the campus for me.

I can create my own schedule around family, career – and me! In contrast, I find disadvantages to the regular campuses as being centered on scheduling issues. In conclusion, my experiences so far with AIU have been very positive. I enjoy the self-pace of the course work and the flexibility of the online campus. I look forward to earning my Master’s degree with AIU online.

References

Moore, M. G. (2007). Handbook of Distance Education. New York: Routeledge. Zhang, D. , Zhao, J. L. , Zhou, L. , & Nunmaker, J. F. JR (2004) Can e-learning replace classroom learning? Communications of the ACM, 47(5), 75 – 79.

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