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May 2001, Week 2


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"Tanya T. Feddern" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Tanya T. Feddern
Sun, 13 May 2001 13:33:19 -0400
TEXT/PLAIN (85 lines)
I'm forwarding my reply of recommending a great MLIS distance-ed program:

Dear Barbara,

I would recommend the University of South Florida, my alma mater.  They
have a strong committment to their distance education students.  I was a
distance ed student who took my classes online and in person.  (I could've
done it all online.)

I've spoken to students in other library school distance ed programs, and
many were frustrated because their school required them to form groups and
do their group work and projects online.  They said that the constant
back-and-forth via email with their group members made the process
distinctly unpleasant.

Also, some library schools drop the library focus and instead concentrate
on information technology, such as setting up library computers into a
network, database  management, etc.  I don't know if the physicians want
to become medical librarians who learn about information technology on
their own (like me) or if they prefer pure information technology with
less focus on direct patron-reference interaction.

I benefitted greatly from being a distance ed student at the University of
South Florida
The online classes are taught by experienced professors who *know* how to
teach online, the professors make themselves available to their students
(via office, home, and cellphone, and email) and they respond quickly to
your email, the professors are committed to distance education teaching,
the courses are taught with solid technology (no bugs nor breakdowns), and
USF offers courses in Medical Librarianship, Online Information
Sources, Science and Technology, and more.  University of South Florida is
also in charge of the Florida Distance Learning Reference & Referral
Center, which provides reference & research
services to Florida distance ed students living anywhere in the world.

I'm sure you already know about it, but you might also suggest that the
physicians read the study by Dr. Charles Fikar. He is a librarian and a
physician who polled other healthcare professionals (like me) who chose
librarianship as a second career.

Lastly, here are some tips the physicians might use in evaluating the
distance-ed programs:

1) Ask if group assignments are given, and if so, in how many of the

2) Ask if the program utilizes a variety of online class platforms (like
WebCT or Blackboard) or if all professors must use the same software.
Have the physicians give each software a spin (Blackboard  and  WebCT  After all,
if s/he hates one software but one of the universities solely use it, then
s/he may wish to choose another university.

3) Does the university consistently use bleeding-edge technology?  That
may not be the greatest thing, since the newest technology is often buggy
or has unexpected user problems.

4) Ask about the distance ed faculty--have they ever taught
that particular course online, are they involved in distance education
associations, do they attend workshops on improving distance education
teaching techniques, do they do research and/or publish about distance
education, etc.  Just because a great teacher is teaching online doesn't
mean that s/he knows how to teach via distance ed.

If you or the physicians have further questions, I would be more than
happy to answer them.  PLEASE use this email:
[log in to unmask]

Take care (M'slama),


Tanya Feddern, MLIS, MOT
Reference & Education Services Librarian
University of Miami School of Medicine
Louis Calder Memorial Library
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