1. What Is Distance Learning?
    Frequently Asked Questions for Students

ABOUT DISTANCE LEARNING


ABOUT THE TELECAMPUS



ABOUT DISTANCE LEARNING

What are Distance Learning courses?
Distance Learning courses are taught using various methods, or delivery formats, including online course software, two-way television, videotape, videoconferencing, audiotape, and sometimes even regular mail. This allows students to "attend" classes and training sessions that are presented from a remote location. The teaching tools may be different, but, just as with traditional classes, students still receive assignments, view lectures, study for quizzes and tests, complete projects, and communicate with faculty and classmates. Often a combination of delivery formats is used within a single course, which may sometimes include a certain number of classroom-based sessions; this general approach is referred to as "blended learning." For an overview of the key Distance Learning methods used in UA, UAB, and UAHuntsville courses, see this Delivery Formats overview.
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Why should I take a Distance Learning course?
Distance Learning offers great convenience and flexibility for students. They can take a class even if they live far from campus. Students can work on their own time, from whatever remote location they choose. They can earn a degree while they work or raise a family. They can stay enrolled in a class even if they travel, are transferred, or change jobs.
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What kind of students do well in Distance Learning courses?
In general, students who do well in Distance Learning courses are self-motivated, and have excellent study habits and time-management skills. Since they can't rely on regular classroom meetings and reminders from faculty to keep up with coursework, they must be self-disciplined and able to pace themselves throughout the class. A conscientious student may also avoid last-minute technical glitches that lead to overdue assignments. These Tips for Success in a Distance Learning Course explain how students can prepare for a course and establish strong study habits and communication skills. Also, this will help you think through some of the more important aspects of Distance Learning courses.
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Do I have to know a lot about computers to take a Distance Learning course?
You don't have to be a computer whiz, but you will need to know how to use a word processing program, send and receive e-mail (with attachments), navigate online to various websites, and post to discussion boards.
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What technical requirements do I need to know about for an online course?
The technology requirements may vary by campus, department, and course. However, for most Distance Learning courses you will need (at a minimum) a reliable connection to the Internet and a computer with the necessary software to complete the course work. For more information, review this list of Computer Requirements. You can also ask the course provider for a list of specific technology requirements.
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How do students and faculty communicate in a Distance Learning course?
Students and faculty may have few or no face-to-face meetings in a Distance Learning class. But they will "talk" in online or videoconference meetings, or by posting messages to discussion boards, and sending e-mails. Faculty may also offer students the opportunity to communicate through one-on-one calls, conference calls, fax, video, or computer conferencing.
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Will I work with other students?
You may not meet with your classmates in person, but this doesn't mean that you'll be working alone. Most likely, you'll have the chance to work with classmates via online or conferencing programs, and communicate through discussion boards, listservs, e-mail, and chat rooms. Your Distance Learning class projects might even include virtual simulations, role play, case studies, problem-solving exercises, collaborative group work, debates, and brainstorming.
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Are all Distance Learning classes taught online?
No. Lots of Distance Learning courses are taught using a combination of methods, including online technology, software, two-way television, satellite broadcasts, videotape, videoconferencing, audiotape, and even regular mail.
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How do I access an online course?
Currently, onlinecourses in The University of Alabama System run on three different platforms. UA is using both eLearning and Blackboard Learn.  (Blackboard Learn willbe used exclusively by spring 2013 when eLearning will be phased out.) UAB isusing Blackboard Learn.  Distance learning coursework at UAHuntsville isusing Mediasite, which allows capture of live lectures while professors areteaching, along with Angel as the course management system. (These web-based programs enable faculty to create and host online course materials.) To access a course, you log into the program. You can then access course materials, calendars, discussion boards, chat rooms, e-mail, assignments, and grades. For more information, see Distance Learning Formats.
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How does videoconferencing work?
Videoconferencing technology lets people at two or more locations see and hear each other at the same time. At UA, UAB, and UAHuntsville, videoconferencing is made possible by the Intercampus Interactive Telecommunications System (IITS). This is a network of conference rooms connected to a statewide videoconferencing network. Some 30 sites throughout Alabama are equipped with cameras, monitors, and other devices that allow teachers and students to interact as if they were in the same room. Presenters use slides, overheads, and videotape as well as digital options. For more information, see the IITS page in the Distance Learning Formats section.
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Can I register for Distance Learning courses from more than one UA System campus at the same time?
Yes, you can. In order to register for Distance Learning courses from more than one UA System campus, please contact the respective campuses and follow their directions for course registration. If you are a current student at one of the UA System institutions, consult your home institution first and follow the process for taking courses at another UA System institution. Fees will be charged on a per-course or per-credit-hour basis.
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How much do Distance Learning courses cost?
Distance learning tuition and fees vary across the three campuses. Financial costs also differ on individual campuses — ranging from assessment of no additional charges, to a "flat fee per term" system, to a "per credit hour" system. Details below:

At UA, tuition paid for campus courses at the full-time campus tuition rate does not include Distance Learning courses. An additional tuition amount is charged. For more information on UA Distance Learning tuition and fees, see the BamaByDistance website.

At UAB, charges for Distance Learning include regular tuition and fees plus an online course fee that varies by school. In some schools, online learners are charged out-of-state or in-state tuition based on their residency, while other schools at UAB charge in-state tuition for all online courses. For more information about UAB's Distance Learning fees, refer to this downloadable PDF.

At UAHuntsville, please refer to the College of Engineering's Distance Learning newsletter each semester for current Distance Learning tuition, which is based on zones that the college serves. Students enrolling in Distance Learning courses in the College of Nursing are charged out-of-state or in-state tuition; no additional distance learning fees are assessed.

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ABOUT THE TELECAMPUS

Where can I find technical help?
Many resources exist at each campus for students to get advice and technical help related to Distance Learning. See this Contact Us page for a list of technical resources and contacts
at UA, UAB, and UAHuntsville.
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Can I search for Distance Learning courses at more than one UA System campus?
Yes, this site's Programs & Courses search tool allows you to find Distance Learning courses offered by UA, UAB, and UAHuntsville, and find details about the schedule and availability of individual classes.
Begin a search now.
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What does it mean to "customize" the Telecampus site, and how do I do it?
This Telecampus website is designed to let you view it either in a neutral UA System style, or if you choose, in a style customized for UA, UAB, or UAHuntsville. To customize the Telecampus, go to the homepage and click the campus-customization button that you want. This will reload the homepage using your chosen style, and this setting will then carry throughout the Telecampus as you browse. Besides letting you choose the visual style of the site, the main benefit of customizing the Telecampus for UA, UAB, or UAHuntsville is that it will allow the Telecampus to "elevate" specific links and information for you related to your campus. You can be sure, though, that whatever the customization setting of the Telecampus, it will never hide any important Distance Learning information or resources. So no matter what campus style the site is set to, all the primary content will always be readily available to you. It's also easy to remove or change the customization setting of the Telecampus (see the next question).
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How do I remove or change the customization setting of the Telecampus?
You can remove the customization at any time by clicking on the "Go back to the UA System Telecampus" button in the upper right-hand corner of every page. This will take you back to the Telecampus homepage reset to the neutral UA System style. From there you can either select a different campus customization setting, or continue browsing the site in the neutral, "uncustomized" style.
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How do I navigate this site?
The Telecampus is easy to navigate. It's organized into three main sections: About Distance Learning, Programs & Courses, and Delivery Formats. All primary content is presented in the center column. You can navigate within each section using the links on the left-hand side. The right-hand column contains a site-search box, links to the three university websites, a log-in for faculty, and a link for prospective and current students to request additional information about course registration and admissions.
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Do I need a certain web browser to use the Telecampus?
No, there is not one specific web browser that you need in order to use the Telecampus; however, many web browsers do behave a little differently from one another. The Telecampus has been designed to perform best on browsers that conform to W3C standards. We recommend that PC users view this site using a current version of either Internet Explorer or Mozilla, and that Macintosh users view it using a current version of either Safari or Mozilla. All of these browsers are available for free download from their respective manufacturers' websites.
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