Classes haven’t started for the program yet, but I already have so much information to share with you all.
I’d like to start by encouraging anyone with questions/comments to contact the department and/or myself (either through a comment or an email). The department can help you with all of the ‘formal’ info and I can help with the ‘what’s it like to be in an online applied anthro program’ info.
After the department sent out the acceptance letters this summer, they set up a listserv right away. This was our main form of communication for about a month. Our focus than moved to our “Cosmic Cafe” webCT chat room. Everyone in the program (both online and on-campus) have access to this forum. The online students used it mainly to set up rides/rooms for orientation, but the department also used it to send out such info as books being used, etc. The general consensus of the online students thus far is that we are all highly impressed by the constant and efficient communication from the faculty. If you have a question, you’ll get a response in under 24 hours- very important to all of us. The department has stressed from the get-go that a sense of community amongst the online students is very important to them- and so far, I think we’ve been successful with it.
Last Friday and Saturday were our “Orientation Days”. The fifteen online students met up on-campus with the faculty for two full days of information. We all went to the library to learn how to use our resources as online students, we also went to a computer lab to learn webCT, we listened to the faculty speak about the research experience, etc and ate a lot! Breakfast and lunch were catered everyday and Friday there was a potluck dinner party at one of the prof’s house. Food is the way to my heart by the way.
The orientation session was highly organized in that everything went smoothly and timely, but not so organized that it was uncomfortable. We all had plenty of opportunity to ask questions, meet with financial aid advisors, and get to know each other. My only complaint about the weekend would be that we didn’t get to spend too much time with all of the profs- two had to leave right away on Friday and the others were only there for our break-out sessions (when we broke out into our groups of focus; business/organizational, education, medical and migration/border studies). We certainly had a good chance to speak with everyone, but more would have been nice.
And one last thing I would like to say for now is what the department explained their hopes for the online program to be:
A strong sense of community
A practicum (in lieu of thesis) that gives the student some direction for a career post graduation
Strong focus in methods and theory (part of the reason I was so anxious about it)
Equal experience and quality of education as the on-campus program
Classes start next Monday! More to come…..