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GPS Online Approach
Explore this page to discover how Brandeis GPS Distance Learning works, and to determine if it's the right learning method for you.
1. What is Distance Learning?DL provides flexibility and convenience for students to access courses via an Internet connection at any time. There are no physical classrooms for lectures, set meeting days or times or in-class exams.
Students work within the standard course week, Wednesday through Tuesday, to review the weekly online lecture notes and other resources posted by the instructor. Throughout the week, students and the instructor interact through the discussion forums, collaboratively exploring the week's topics.
Students submit assignments through the course site and receive regular feedback from the instructor.
2. How are DL courses different than traditional campus courses?
With DL, we don't have:
- A physical classroom
- Set meeting days or times
- In-class exams
With DL, we do have:
- Flexibility and convenience: you can access your DL course via any Internet connection, 24 x 7
- Anytime learning: no in-person or mandatory real-time sessions
- Collaborative environment: shared insights between the instructor and students through the discussion forums
- Qualified professionals: instructors trained in the DL course delivery methods and our standards
Distance learning requires more self direction and motivation. Take our DL Self-Assessment to determine if DL is right for you.
3. What tools do DL students need?
4. How does a typical DL course work?
In a traditional classroom course, instructors conduct weekly lectures, facilitate discussions and administer assignments and exams. Students attend weekly lectures, participate in classroom discussions and submit assignments and exams.
All of these elements exist with DL.
Using LATTE in place of a traditional classroom to communicate, instructors upload:
- Course syllabus
- Weekly course content
- Assignments, quizzes and exams
- Checklists and reminders
- Discussion questions
- Contact information
- Virtual office hours
As the course proceeds, students follow the standard DL course week of Wednesday through Tuesday, and:
- View/download materials
- Post responses to discussion questions
- Post replies to the posts of others
- Engage in conversations with the instructor and other students
- Submit assignments
- Complete quizzes and exams
Online participation through the course forums is critical. Per our standards, online participation contributes at least 30% to the student's final grade. The instructor uploads graded work for students, including feedback on participation. [top]
5. What does a typical DL course feel like?
As the weeks of a DL course unfold, you will adapt quickly to its flow and pace. Throughout the course week, you can expect to:
- Visit the weekly checklist for a list of reminders
- Read or print online lecture notes, handouts, case studies
- Read or print upcoming assignments
- Visit the discussion forums
- Post your original responses
- Post questions and comments
- Read posts of fellow students and the instructor
- Post replies to the posts of your classmates
- Read announcements posted by your instructor
- Submit assignments that are due
- Retrieve your graded work
While moving through the course week:
- You can "attend class" whenever you like.
- You will do a lot of reading; the online lecture notes and discussions are text-based.
- You will rely on the syllabus and checklists for reminders of due dates.
While primarily you won't be able to see your instructor and fellow classmates, you'll stay connected through the course site and its discussion forums. In addition, virtual collaboration tools used in many courses provide students the opportunity to interact with their classmates, and frequently with their instructors as well, in real time with audio and video. [top]
6. What are the skills of successful DL learners?
Successful DL learners possess:
Strong written communication skills
Since all interaction is written, participants must have strong writing abilities to convey their points in the DL classroom.
Effective reading skills
In addition to weekly text readings, course content includes weekly online "lecture notes," supplemental readings, articles, case studies, discussions, etc.
Effective time-management skills
Students have access to DL time-management tools: the syllabus, weekly checklists, the online calendar and an assignments tool. Participants must be motivated and disciplined to follow the weekly structure and stay current with the course activities and assignments.
Comfort with the technology.
Students must be willing to become comfortable with the technology and understand the steps to take when further help is needed. [top]
7. Is DL right for you?
People learn in different ways. While DL offers flexibility and convenience, it is not the best course delivery method for everyone. Students in DL courses need to:
Use technology properly.
Login and participate regularly with their courses.
Enjoy communicating in writing and reading posts of others.
If you learn best by hearing the instructor, then perhaps the traditional classroom environment is more appropriate for you.
Raise concerns and questions.
Commit on average at least nine to 15 hours per week throughout the 10 weeks.
- Exercise self discipline and manage their time to study and complete assignments and assessments. [top]