Helen Darbyshire is a 4th Year English Literature Major. This past year, she decided to take FREN 348: French Literature in Translation I. In the course, she learned much more than French literature and she shares her experience with how distance education helped her meet her degree requirements.
Helen enrolled in FREN 348 to “help [her] fulfill requirements outside of [her] Major,” after it was recommended by Arts Advising. She covered literary works from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution and “discovered some great literature [she] would otherwise have missed.” Through this course Helen has had to discover a range of significant landmarks in French literature, combining both an historical perspective with the challenge of seeing the works’ contemporary relevance. Because this is an online course, with such in-depth material to cover, she has “learnt how to be concise in [her] unit postings and assignment postings.” This personal growth will prove to be an asset in her other courses as she has learned to streamline her thoughts and eloquently apply the course material to shape her ideas.
As an online course, FREN 348 required students to participate in an online discussion forum. Helen admits she “didn’t expect to have to make so many postings, or to respond to [her] peers’ postings, but found it helped with the understanding of the texts.” Similarly, with an online course “there is no face to face interaction with the professor or students.” A downside of the distance education format for some students can be the lack of physical contact between students, and Helen expresses how “[she] did miss the social contact that being in a class brings.” Despite this difference from on-campus courses, interaction was not completely gone due to her constant communication with other students in the discussion forum and the fact that “the professor was always readily available via e-mail.” Helen’s experience with the online format, although different from what she was used to, proved to be valuable and a nice change of pace from the expected.
The real benefit for Helen was the flexibility that distance education courses offer; “It enabled me to take two courses at the same time (my other course is on campus) which I could not normally do, so it assists in my goal of completing my Degree.” Helen also shares how the format of French 348 provided her with a deeper understanding of the course material; “It made me think about the texts and how I view them, rather than to have a view imposed upon me by a professor.”
Through distance education Helen discovered a greater understanding for literature, learned to be concise in her responses, and is now one step closer to earning her degree.