I have been an “on-line” student at UBC for almost two years now and I can honestly say that it has been an amazing experience on many levels.
I had just finished putting both my daughters through university and was very envious of their wonderful experiences. Proud of their successes, I was inspired to explore my own continuing education. When I learned of an opportunity to participate in the Dental Hygiene Degree Completion program for a Bachelor of Science degree while still being able to maintain my work schedule, I jumped at the chance.
I was very nervous in the beginning having had only Photoshop and basic Word experience. But, once I purchased my laptop and set it up with the help of the technical service department, I was off to the races. The learning curve was a challenge but it took only about a month to familiarize myself completely with WebCT and all the nuances of on-line learning. From that time forward, not a day goes by that I do not look into my UBC website for postings, updates, news and course info.
My life, as I knew it, had to change. My working schedule needed to remain the same so my time away from work needed to be carefully managed. Maintaining my photography interests and freelance writing sidelines needed to be balanced into the equation also. I needed to develop a structure that worked for me whereby I could do my on-line class work and my reading yet still keep everything else going. The flexibility of on-line learning allows me to get up early or even work in the middle of the night if I feel the need and this asynchronous posting lets me do what I need to do each day at the times that work best for me.
I would have to say that the best online experience that I still continue to enjoy is the ongoing communication with my profs and my fellow classmates or group members. If the communication guidelines are followed and the dynamics are strong, it can be a very exciting experience. Group work, which is always a challenge, is easily managed with members alternating leadership roles and with ongoing communication with each other.
This experience has opened my eyes to new and wonderful ways of learning and has offered me a chance at career development that I would have, otherwise, been unable to explore. I have made new friends, doors have been opened, and pathways have stretched out towards new career goals. I have since developed an oral health web site ( www.oralhealthforall.com) which was inspired by research on information gathering on the internet for one of my on-line class papers. This site development and management has since lead me to other career options that hold great promise.
Thanks to UBC and my positive on-line learning experiences, I can only look forward to many more exciting and surprising personal developments along the way.