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Distance Education Is Option for Students

26 August 2004 — In 1992, Jacksonville State University’s distance education program offered students the opportunity to take courses through the use of videocassettes. About 200 students signed up. Since then, distance learning has boomed. During the spring semester 2004, more than 4,000 students took classes that featured some aspect of distance learning.

“Distance learning is a win-win situation for students and the university.  It provides the degree of flexibility required by today’s student who may be older, a parent and who has ongoing work commitments,” said Dr. Frank King, director of the Office of Distance Education.

The term “distance learning” describes one of three ways students may encounter university-level courses at a distance, augmented through technology.

First, students can sign up for Internet classes that may be offered entirely online, or Internet resources may be incorporated into traditional courses by teachers who want to add online experiences.

Second, students may encounter videoconferencing, which combines the best features of television and the computer.  Videoconferencing provides live two-way interaction between students and their teacher, even though the classrooms may be divided among considerable distances. JSU has used as many as 14 sites throughout Alabama and Georgia.

Third, students still find video-based courses available. These courses are conducted by providing the student with a set of videocassettes at the beginning of the class. The instructor may also require students to buy textbooks and materials. Teacher and students frequently remain in contact through both the Internet and on-campus experiences.

Students can live anywhere in the world and earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree. JSU  has enrolled students in almost every state in the nation including Hong Kong, Japan, Dominican Republic, Germany, and other locations.

All three distance learning formats use the same university calendar as traditional classes, and the costs are usually the same as for traditional classes.

Students may experience many levels of learning at a distance. A student may want to gain certification rather than a degree. Distance learning course work can lead to certification in fields such as geographic information systems and emergency management. A bachelor’s in nursing can be earned through the STEP program. A master’s can be earned in the area of public administration with a concentration in emergency management. A Master of Science in emergency management is also available.

Anyone with a connection to the Internet can research all the ways that they can take courses or earn degrees through distance learning. Simply go to and click on your areas of interest. Students considering distance learning courses might want to complete the “Is Distance Learning for Me?” survey on the distance education homepage.

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