ECU is the leader in distance education (DE) in the UNC system, offering more courses and degrees on line than any other institution.
The Hispanic Studies program in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures has been offering courses via DE since 1997, and has taught courses this way at all levels: from 1000-level introductory courses, through advanced undergraduate courses for our BA and BS Teaching degree students, and including 6000-level graduate courses.
Hispanic Studies program will begin offering courses toward the MA via
Distance Education (DE) in the 2019-2020 academic year so that people
working full time, or who live far from ECU, may pursue the MA.
All DE courses will use videoconferencing for at least part of the course to replicate the classroom experience to the greatest extent possible and offer authentic communication in the target language. All DE students will have access to the professors outside of scheduled class times in virtual office hours. Our DE courses employ a web conferencing platform that provides a virtual classroom using live and recorded sessions, enabling faculty and students to attend class "live" from anywhere they have access to an Internet connection, and enables also allowing the student to see and hear the instructor as well as respond to the instructor's questions with audio.
Our primary learning management system is the Blackboard Learning Management System. Blackboard is hosted locally and upgrades occur each May. ECU runs the largest Blackboard system among the UNC campuses with over 6,900 course sites. Recent investments in disaster recovery solutions provide 24x7 access with minimal disruption to students and faculty. This will be used for most non-synchronous assignments.
Students have access to academic support services comparable to services provided to on-campus students and appropriate to support the program, including admissions, financial aid, academic advising, delivery of course materials, and placement and counseling.
DE students have the same access to all campus facilities as other students. ECU also provides a system of support services that acknowledge the challenges students away from the campus have in meeting the responsibilities of their academic endeavors. Rather than develop alternative systems for DE students, ECU has developed web-based processes that support all students, both DE and campus. The university has made a commitment to provide an online interface for services that all students can access any time. Careful planning and dedicated resources have permitted ECU to move from paper-based processes to a system where all ECU students can interact with the university in the same manner.