Instructional Support in Distance Education
You might get to feeling isolated and all alone when you are pursuing your degree via distance learning. Nobody
is standing in your living room scribbling on a blackboard and reeling off facts, dates, and theories. No, you are
either reading or watching a recorded dialog. If you get a bit confused you can always put it on pause and ask your
questions but you won’t get any answers! So how do you get any support in distance learning?
Nowadays the Internet is growing larger and richer with data and facts. So much so that the word "google" is now
an acceptable verb. So it stands to reason that the Internet would be the quickest and easiest place to find a
wealth of reference material. And you don’t even have to get dressed and drive to the library. Just one word of
caution: there is nothing out there to police the data and some of it is wrong. Use reputable sites.
The Internet contains everything you would expect to find on your libraries bookshelves, except the gathering
dust. Manuals, dictionaries, thesauruses, calculators, even free editing tools-- they're all out there.
There will inevitably be times like these when your online teacher is inaccessible. Don’t wring your hands in
anguish. There are many sites out there in the "ask" category. You might try sites such as "Ask Dr. Math," or "Ask
an Archaeologist." Some sites even have test questions that you can use to study up prior to an exam.
In addition, there are literally hundreds of bulletin boards, forums, and web services that are set up for the
curious to post questions of their own or search through the archives. Someone has probably asked just your
question in the past. You will find that although some say the Internet is impersonal, many people will love to
help others out.
Always validate the data you gather by verifying it at several different sources. Finding a wide consensus on
any issue is the best test for accuracy. Completely different or quirky answers should always raise a red flag.
After you become familiar with the Internet "search and gather" strategy and become immersed in your coursework,
you will have an extremely useful free tool. By that time you’ll know which sites you use most often for
reliability and topic relevance. It would be a good idea to bookmark these sites in your browser to make more
efficient use of your time.
Almost any reputable accredited distance learning school will have many research and help resources that they
sponsor to aid students in their studies. This should be the first place you check when you are trying to clarify
any topic. Assure yourself that it is easy enough to access the resources and check to see whether there are any
additional fees for them. These services are included in your fees and should be made use of.
You should check these services out as part of your research when you are choosing which distance learning
institution you wish to register with. Your instructor(s) is another important thing to research. You will want to
know how to contact them and if the contact times will work with your schedule.