Going the distance one click at a time
By Molly Brock
Thanks to the advanced technology used by Purdue University's agricultural communication distance education unit, classes, meetings and instructional programs can be accessed in the comfort of your own home.
Photo provided by Randy Spears
Two-way video conferencing allows Purdue to connect to other campuses across Indiana and internationally. Distance education provides quick access to information and classes at Purdue.
Students with a personal computer have faster and easier access to Purdue classes. Students can get lecture notes, assignments and course information on the Web. Web-based distance education allows Purdue to expand educational needs to people who do not have time or cannot easily travel to a Purdue campus.
"The biggest advantage to using distance education is the convenience," said Randy Spears, distance education coordinator. "People no longer have to find time to come to Purdue for a class; the class is brought to them."
Students who are itnerest in working with advanced technology can even obtain a part-time job with the distance education unit. Kelly Delp, a senior in agricultural communication from Rockville, Ind., has worked with the distance education unit since August 2001. She is responsible for updating and repairing websites for the College of Agriculture, Department of Agricultural Communication and Purdue Extension.
"Currently I am working on getting search engines to find the United States Department of Agriculture and the Purdue GO in AG webpages," Delp said. Delp will also be responsible for creating the Destination Purdue website. In addition, there will be a monthly e-newsletter that will feature stories from Destination Purdue. Delp hopes that the website will be up and running by February 2003.
Working with the distance education unit has helped Delp decide on a career path. "When I graduate, I would really like to build websites for an agricultural non-profit organization," Delp said.
Not only does distance education use the Internet, but it also uses video conferencing to connect Purdue to other Purdue campuses across Indiana. It also has been used for international video conferencing. The distance education unit usually completes 90 to 100 distance education projects each year. "Presently, we want to expand," Spears said. "We're trying to find more space for our growing unit."