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Distance Education Programs of Study

 

Introduction to distance education

 

In recent years the advancement of technology, the widespread use of the computer and the advent of the internet has led to new forms of delivering education. The process of acquiring knowledge, skills and competences, is no longer bounded by space and time, and higher education is no longer limited to rigid pedagogical methods. Distance education offers the opportunity to people who cannot or do not prefer to study in a conventional program of study requiring their physical presence in a classroom (due to geographical restrictions and/or time constrains), to acquire knowledge and gain a higher education qualification. Distance education contributes in making education more open and accessible, flexible and adaptable to society’s needs and respond to the diverse needs of students.

 

Students spend more time working on their own in a distance education program.  The time they would spend on-campus in a conventional program of study is replaced with activities such as more reading, writing, watching PowerPoint/video presentations, participating in online discussion boards attending online live lectures and real-time communication with their professor and other students. In terms of the course assessment they will be required to carry out assignments and take a comprehensive written final examinations.

 

How our distance education is offered

 

The students’ learning experience is mainly managed through our distance-learning platform. Students log in the platform by using their browser and a username and a password provided by American College. In addition, for the delivery of distance education we use an online library platform, a web conferencing system, a telecommunication software and email and telephone communication. Through the above platforms, system and software, students access course material and learning resources, submit assignments, answer self-assessment questions, watch live online lectures, participate in online discussion boards (forums) and live chat rooms. Moreover, they communicate with their instructors and other students enrolled in their course through private chat and private web conference. The live online lectures are recorded and stored and can be played back by a student at any time. Our distance education is thus delivered with the use of asynchronous (non-real time) and synchronous (real time) learning tools.

 

The instructor of each course is the person in charge for the teaching and learning process for the particular course. He/she is in charge of the structure, the content, the design and elaboration of the learning activities. The instructor carefully prepares the learning resources of his/her courses such as learning materials expressly designed to support and convey the course content and others. Such learning material may be text or multimedia created by the instructor him/herself or in collaboration with other instructors or it may be taken from the web. The instructor provides students with all the necessary information and resources for the delivery of the course and their successful performance in the final examination and other course assessments.

 

The instructor of a course supervises the students enrolled in the particular course, answers their questions, grades their assignments and projects and monitors their overall learning progress providing them with the necessary feedback. At the same time, the instructor encourages active participation in learning by using all the synchronous and asynchronous tools. The instructor of a course is also the examiner who will mark the final examination of the course. We believe that frequent and direct interaction between a student and the instructor of a course play a key role in the learning process. During the direct interaction, personalized attention is given to the student so that he/she receives valuable guidance on the content of a course. Through this guidance, each student receives supplemental help that is specific to his/her needs.

 

The student has a major position in our pedagogical model. The learning process revolves around preparing, designing and organizing the learning resources and activities in such a way in order to enhance the student’s learning and prepare the student for the final examination and other course assessments. Moreover, in the delivery of distance education we place special emphasis on communication and discussion and exchange of opinions and ideas among the students and between the students and the instructor. This takes place for example while students do group assignments and projects, participate in online discussion boards and live chat rooms. Such group activities allow students to interact with other students from the same or different work experiences, other countries and cultures, learn from each other and gain new perspectives. The collaborative construction of knowledge combines personal experience, group research processes and knowledge management.

 

Finally yet importantly, the success of our distance education lies in the fact that our distance education is delivered by the highly qualified instructors of American College who are specialists in their respective fields and trained in regards to the distance education pedagogical methodologies and ICT aspects. All our distance education instructors have a long experience in higher education teaching and research in their field of expertise. Moreover, they were trained in using synchronous and asynchronous distance learning tools, preparing and organizing distance learning material, activities and communication. Their scientific background in their academic field, their knowledge in distance learning delivery along with the state-of-the-art learning tools we use, the up to date and comprehensive learning material we provide and the modern learning methodologies and assessment we apply guarantee the high quality and reliability of our distance education.

 

Online library platform

 

American College subscribes to a rich online library platform. The platform contains the full text of thousands of scholarly journals, trade journals, market and industry reports, working papers, conference proceedings and dissertations. Students increasingly need more than just scholarly journals to conduct their research thoroughly and effectively. This is why our online library platform made it easy for them to access thousands of key trade and other publications in addition to the scholarly journals. Moreover, the platform provides its users with advanced tools for research and writing such as a smart search and sort tool, a cite tool to generate a bibliography and a content alert tool that emails users new records added to the library that match their search criteria. The platform’s innovative information content and technologies increase the productivity of our students. All American College distance education students are provided with a username and a password to access the platform on any device (e.g. personal computer, smart phone, tablet) with internet connection. All these can be accessed from anywhere in the world and they are available 24 hours a day 365 days a year!

 

Assessment

 

Each course is assessed during the teaching period of a course through coursework and a written final examination.

 

Coursework

 

For every course, students produce a number of written assignments called coursework (e.g. projects, essays and other assignments) depending on the subject being evaluated by the instructor. Coursework is assessed as follows: The instructor will provide students with the requirement details and the submission deadline (date and time) of the coursework well in advance. Students will be able to upload their work through the distance-learning platform by the deadline set. Coursework will be uploaded in word format so that the instructor can use the comment facility of Microsoft Word to comment and mark the coursework. The instructor will then upload the marked coursework using the platform. The coursework serves to keep students alert, provide feedback to them (as part of the learning process) and prepare them for the final examination.

 

Final examination

 

After the teaching period is over students take a comprehensive written final examination for each course. The examination requires the physical presence of the student. Students residing in Cyprus must take the final examination at American College premises. Students residing in countries other than Cyprus can take the final examination at the examination venue in their country of residence arranged by the College (such students can take the examination at American College premises if they wish to do so). The date and time of final examinations and the address of the examination venue are announced to students well in advance. Soon after the examination is over the instructor of each course marks the examination answer scripts of the particular course and then the grades are released.

 

Thesis

 

Master’s degree students are required to write a thesis. A thesis is the final project of their master’s degree. To write a thesis, students must perform research on a specific subject that demonstrates their knowledge acquired through their program. Master’s degree students are allocated a supervisor who provides guidance throughout the execution of the thesis. Supervisors act as a point of reference throughout the thesis period, advise on content aspects and generally give students feedback on their progress. The thesis is uploaded to the distance learning platform in the same way the written assignments were uploaded. Once the thesis is completed the student is required to give a presentation of his/her thesis via a private web conference. The thesis is assessed based on the thesis itself and the thesis presentation.

 

Advantages of distance education

 

  • It requires no physical presence in a classroom. - Students can study from anywhere in the world and at any time of the day over the internet. – It allows students, even if they work or they are parents, to fit their learning around their work and personal life.
  • Distance education enables students to study at their own pace in many circumstances. - A student may learn better when studying at his/her own pace.
  • In conventional education a student watches a lecture only once whereas in distance education the student can play back an online lecture at any time since it is recorded, stored and made available to the student.
  • There is no need for students to do any traveling to study. – This saves them time, money and hustle.
  • Studying with distance education saves students the living expenses they would face when studying abroad or in a city other than theirs.
  • Distance learning enables students to make connections with a more diverse range of people worldwide, thus it provides a wider range of networking opportunities.
  • Distance education programs of study and qualifications are of the same high quality as campus-based programs.
  • Distance education is just as, if not more, effective at teaching students than the traditional classroom education.
  • Qualifications earned through distance education are equally acknowledged by academic institutions and employers.



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