Fifth year Pharmacology major Kevin Lee has a packed schedule. He takes courses on campus, conducts research in an off-campus lab facility, and commutes for two hours each day. In order to excel in his studies, Kevin must make the most of what little time he has.
Kevin is currently enrolled in ENGL 301: Technical Writing. As a distance education course, ENGL 301 reduces the time he needs to spend on campus. He has previously taken another distance course, CLST 301: The Technical Terms of Medicine and Biological Science.
ENGL 301 familiarizes students with writing in a professional context and gives students practice in writing documents such as reports and abstracts. CLST 301 is recommended for students in pre-med programs and focuses on the Greek and Latin elements from which the terms of modern medicine are constructed.
Although these courses are not required to complete his degree, Kevin is using the credits to fulfill his elective requirements. Through these courses, Kevin has developed skills that he will be able to use in a professional setting following graduation.
“I wanted to take courses that could be applied to more non-specialized situations. I knew these courses would help me learn to write memorandums and to recognize medical terminology,” he said.
These courses were both offered on campus, but Kevin found the on-campus versions inconvenient for his busy schedule. This term, his schedule includes performing experiments in a lab in downtown Vancouver for his directed studies course. If he had taken the on-campus version of ENGL 301, Kevin would have had to commute back and forth from UBC to downtown Vancouver. Like many students, he was not eager to add more commuting time to his schedule, making distance education an ideal option.
“Without distance education, I would have had to either drop this elective (ENGL 301), or my directed studies research course,” he noted.
Distance education has also helped Kevin take advantage of his long commute. Since the course materials are available online, he can access them while on the bus or SkyTrain.
“The assignments are time-sensitive, but I can learn the course from wherever and whenever. This really helps because my commute takes up two hours per day and learning the lectures while transiting makes it more time-efficient,” he said.
CLST 301 was structured around modules, each of which covered a week’s worth of material. For each module, Kevin was given a list of vocabulary to learn and assignments to complete. The assignments consisted of defining medical terminology and integrating them into paragraphs on scientific topics. Each module ended with a five-minute, 30-question quiz, after which he could advance to the next module.
Although distance education offers students a more flexible learning environment than a traditional classroom setting, Kevin found that the learning model still had the right amount of structure and helped him develop time management skills.
As the modules were time-sensitive, Kevin had to ensure that he kept up with the course timeline. He learned to be organized and manage his time wisely. It has had a positive impact on his work ethic, and has made him more confident when facing a schedule filled with multiple projects and activities.
Through ENGL 301 and CLST 301, Kevin hoped to gain writing skills and knowledge of medical terminology to help him in his future career aspirations. Not only has he gained those skills, he has also further developed his time management and organizational skills, which will also be useful to him in the future.
Distance Education is offered through UBC’s Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, with over 130 courses on offer and spanning 30 different subject areas. To learn more about Distance Education, simply visit ctlt.ubc.ca/distance-learning/