No matter where you go, distance ed generally has the same idea behind it. If you have ever taken an online course, taking a distance course from UBC shouldn’t be foreign to you at all. However, if you are unfamiliar with the online learning environment, let this post reveal a bit about what it’s like taking this type of course from UBC.
The interface UBC uses for its online academic business is called Connect. It’s supposed to be like an “online blackboard” tool, where you can manage and access grades, assignments/quizzes, and discussion boards for most of your courses.To access Connect, you need your CWL (campus-wide login) name and password.
To take a course via distance ed, you don’t need to be enrolled full-time at UBC, or even have to live in Vancouver. That’s the beauty of learning from home. There are disadvantages though, in that you lack the physical aspect of seeing your instructor and your peers every week. It can also be harder to motivate yourself to keep up with the course, especially if you are taking it alongside your regular courses like I did this semester. From what I gathered, it costs the same as an equal-credit course offered in person, plus some overhead fees that get tacked on to your tuition costs.
With the online courses, you will need to log in to Connect at least a couple of times a week. All of the course material is posted as the semester progresses. Most quizzes and midterms are performed online. There may be some field assignments or labs that you’ll be asked to complete and document. One of the main parts to the online learning is the discussion board. This is where you can post messages or answer questions posed by the instructor, and is really the only time you get to interact with your peers.
The examples I am showing are from the one online course I took this year, APBI 100. It is a really interesting course, and doesn’t require a lot of background in science. If you are looking for an elective to take, I highly suggest it. It wasn’t offered in person this year, only online. However for students in the faculty of Land and Food Systems, it is a good one to take if you are interested in soils or plant life. I ended up with a 94 in the course, which is the highest mark on my transcript so far.
As I mentioned before, the midterms are done online. The final exam is the only time you have to leave your house to write any kind of test, and it happened in a room with many other distance ed students from various courses. For this particular course, we were allotted 2 hours. It is invigilated and you are allowed no outside materials of any kind.
Speaking from experience, I found distance learning to be a fairly easy way to complete a 3-credit course in one semester. I enjoyed the discussion boards, and while near the end of the year I started to panic because I had fallen a bit behind in the course, it worked out in the end. For this science elective, the course material was straightforward and actually quite interesting.
The best part about online learning is there’s no pressure to wake up at 8 in the morning for your class! You could work on it at 3am if you felt like it. Distance courses offer a lot more freedom when it comes to education, but in the end it all comes down to how you like to learn, and knowing what you do best at.