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Since I’ve never attended graduate school in an on-campus program, much of what I see as the “graduate experience” comes from hearsay and others’ experiences. Part of my hesitation about enrolling in the online master’s program was about if I’d get the “graduate experience” (whatever that is).

Well, a year and a half into the program I feel like I can say I am getting it- at least a part of it.
As I’ve written about in the past, I’m a research assistant for my advisor in the department. I’ve had two opportunities to present at conferences so far from this research and publications are in the works. So, this is part of the “experience.”

UNT and the department of anthropology have made efforts to extend other parts of graduate school to the online students also though. Many on-campus students are presenting their practicums this week and next. At UNT students do a practicum (applied project with a client) instead of a thesis. The department is recording these presentations and will upload them for the online students to view. Some presentations will also be available in real-time via a teleconference line and Live Classroom (which is sort of like a desktop sharing app). I thought this was a neat idea.

Another thing that the on-campus graduate students have done for the online is to hold the graduate anthropology club meetings in a room that has a speaker phone and Live Classroom. The online students can attend the meetings virtually along side the on-campus students. This is cool because most of the time students will do short presentations about topics and discussion will follow.

Lastly, the Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) at UNT makes presentations available in real-time via Live Classroom. In about an hour I will be attending a talk by Darrell Hull from the College of Education speak on this topic:
“An experimental design study was conducted to examine participant interaction toward social knowledge construction and negotiated meaning in asynchronous online discussion. Different instructional methods were examined that show significantly enhanced group discourse processes. The presentation will focus on the measures used to examine this phenomenon and a Vygotskian theoretical framework that supports the interventions and measures used for the analysis.”

(I’m attending because of our online-on-campus research)

I’ve been rather impressed by UNT’s and the department’s efforts to include online students.