Karla Sapp started off using distance education as a way to catch up on her university credits and now she is using it to finish her Bachelors of Arts Degree while working full time as a teacher on call for elementary and high school students, grades K-12. She will use this additional education to further her career in teaching as she “feel[s] that it is important for teachers to continue educating themselves: for their personal growth and for continued excellence in teaching.” Karla shares how the many courses she has taken by distance education have provided her with more than just knowledge of the course content.
In English 329: The Structure of Modern English, Karla gained a deeper understanding of English phonetics, phonology, grammar, and vocabulary. She “learned a lot about the English language and this course really helped [her] for when [she] specialised in EAL in Education.”
History 480: Social History of Modern China discussed the changes and continuities in Chinese society and culture from the late Imperial Period to the present; rural and urban life, social stratification, social movements and ideology, family and community, popular beliefs, and cultural values. Having “never taken a course on China before,” Karla credits this course for, “[opening her] eyes to another part of the world.” She enjoyed this course so much she has registered in the follow up to it in the second term, History 481: Education and Society in Modern China.
Another history course provided Karla with a more encompassing knowledge of the history of slavery in the Americas. History 444: Slave Societies in the Americas offers a comparative analysis of the institution of chattel slavery, its growth, its effects on slaves and masters, its relation to the larger society, and the causes of its decline, in the various cultures of the Americas. Karla “had only taken classes before on slavery in the US, so it was very interesting [for her] to learn more about slavery in Latin America, South America, and Africa.”
Karla got to do what she had never found the time to do before, in her French 348: French Literature in Translation I distance course. This class covers literary works from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution and Karla admits, “I was able to read many classics which I had always wanted to, but never found the time.”
In her experiences with distance courses Karla has taken both the online and print-based formats. The difference between these two formats is, “the online courses provide class discussions through Vista, whereas the textbook based (print-based) courses are more independent as you read the books and write papers.” Karla explains that “the level of interaction with classmates is low,” in textbook based courses and that the communication she experienced with this format was, “with the professor via email.” In contrast, “when online discussions are a part of the class, then the level of interaction between students and the professor is usually quite high.” When it comes to choosing the format of your distance course you need to determine which way you learn best – in a highly interactive environment or as an independent learner.
Karla’s distance education courses have provided her with more than just knowledge of the course content; they showed her connections between her courses and her career in teaching, provided her with transferable critical thinking skills, and exposed her to world views on historical events. In addition, Karla describes how distance education has directly impacted her academic and professional life. “Distance education courses are helping me to finish off my Bachelor of Arts [Degree] so that I have the option of teaching high school history and so that I can move up to a Category 5+ teacher.”
Good luck with your teaching and future endeavours, Karla!