Plenty of people are doing it – from older students with greater family responsibilities to students who are holding down a full-time job in addition to their pursuing their degree. Long-Distance Education can create great new opportunities for some who might not have otherwise been able to complete their studies, but it is not without its challenges.
Distance education is rapidly evolving. What once mostly entailed learning via correspondence has now shifted to online or web-based delivery of education. According to Chutima Sacchanand, an Associate Professor of Information Science, distance learning is ‘more self-directed, collaborative, intertwined with personal life and work, and more resource-based’. With distance education, learning shifts from a ‘know what’ to a ‘know how’ approach. Sacchanand states that you must know ‘how to learn, how to secure information, how to use it, and how to relate to a changing society’. While this is something that some first time distance learners may take for granted, distance education can be a very different experience and can be discouraging under the wrong circumstances.
With such independence required in distance learning, the responsibility of the academic library to boost information literacy is even greater. Often times, students – in general – underestimate the level of research competency necessary to keep up with college level work. Sources like Wikipedia are no longer considered sufficient for college-level research papers. Even a quick Google search may not do the trick. So you need to resort to more advanced techniques which you may not be accustomed to. And when you are operating in relative isolation from your institution and library, there is a greater need to rely on these critical skill sets. Not only might long-distance learners not be aware of how to conduct high-level research, they might not even be aware of what the library has to offer them. Not to mention – there also may be greater distractions and a higher likelihood of frustration and research abandonment. All of these obstacles can prevent a student from succeeding in a long distance situation.
Luckily, a great mobile strategy can help alleviate some of the issues around distance education. A Boopsie custom mobile app for your library makes absolutely certain that your more independent learners are best equipped to find what they need and fast. A user experience optimized for any smartphone or tablet improves the research process and cuts down on confusion. Since distance learners might not be in close proximity to the local library, it is tremendously helpful when your online presence is able to lessen the number of questions that a user might otherwise have. And you can integrate any contact information including chat services right into the app, so when they do have a question – both the library and the student are able to resolve any issues quickly and easily.
Over 4,000 Boopsie libraries worldwide love their custom Boopsie app! Contact Boopsie for more information about how you can most effectively reach long-distance learners. Contact us to sign up for a demo here.