Distance learning has become a norm over the last several years. Where we learn, the delivery of information, and even when we can learn have all gone through a makeover. Many institutions have adapted to the changes, including Northern Pennsylvania Regional College.
Since NPRC’s inception more than a decade ago, accessibility and a solid distance learning delivery model are the top priorities to best serve our students. We are proud to have developed an instructional delivery model that serves a large region in an increasingly efficient way. To celebrate World Distance Learning Day, we are sharing experiences from our instructors and staff members about what makes NPRC’s approach to education successful.
What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning can come in many different forms, with some instruction taking place live and some on students’ time. Our distance learning model brings affordable education to students throughout our nine counties and at over 20 locations. Regina Russell, NPRC’s Assistant Director of Instructional Delivery, has experienced this model as a former student of the College and now is one of the leaders and researchers on how we can continually improve our distance learning experience for students.
She shares, “Using technology to bridge distance in learning has a lot of benefits for NPRC students. The classroom setting offers structure, support, opportunity for community, and a productive environment that eliminates distractions students may have at home. The model allows students to develop skills they need to be successful in other educational environments and the workplace. Many large in-person schools and online schools require students to submit work the same way NPRC does. Students also learn how to communicate, manage time, meet deadlines, and submit deliverables, equipping them to be successful wherever they go next. NPRC makes it possible for students to remain close to their home and receive interactive and quality education.”
The model is successful because unlike traditional colleges, our online component is 100 percent interactive and does not require students to spend money on housing, meal-plans, and moving costs. The model also requires students to receive instruction while being at one of over 20 different classroom locations. Unlike online colleges that may offer asynchronous and synchronous instruction, NPRC guarantees live teaching from our industry-leading instructors.
Why It Works
Our distance learning model is successful because we have employees and community partners who believe in it, including the Director of Arts and Sciences, Ben Blood, who commented about why our model for distance learning works.
“Our model is successful because it provides educational opportunities to areas that have no or few other local college opportunities,” Blood said. “We bring a college education to nearly every student’s hometown. Our model allows us to break down geographic and logistical barriers in rural areas. Students who may be intimidated by the idea of moving away to college or may not feel ready are able to receive a college education close to home with a familiar support system.”
Director of Applied Studies, Leigh Anne Kraemer-Naser shared about the ways NPRC instructors keep students engaged with different classroom activities and participation opportunities as well as some of her tips for keeping an engaged classroom via distance learning.
“As an educator, I have always embraced the philosophy of ‘Meet each student where they are at.’ Usually, this is in reference to academic goals and progress, but at NPRC it truly means so much more. For me, it is like a traditional classroom because we are seeing each other and interacting in real-time. We still use hands-on activities, and the college provides each location with kits containing the materials needed for a course. The distance is never a problem because we are united by an intentional, purposeful learning environment.”
The model is also successful because students embrace the opportunity to enter the classroom, while also interacting with those who they do not share a physical classroom with. This approach unquestionably makes us unique, but it is an advantage that helps our college keep costs low and helps students achieve post-secondary education wherever they are in our region.
For more information about Northern Pennsylvania Regional College and the institution’s approach to distance learning, check out our website and follow us on social media.