4,000 at home in class of their own

Getting to class on time isn't a problem for the more than 4,000 UBC students who complete their courses through distance education.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, UBC's Distance Education and Technology (DE&T), a division of Continuing Studies, started with four courses in 1949. The division now offers 120 credit courses across all faculties.

"Our methods may be different now but our goal hasn't changed in 50 years," says Tony Bates, director of DE&T. "We want to make UBC's programs available to students who can't get to campus and ensure access to UBC's best programs."

Learners from 27 different countries seeking the flexibility of home study use print-based material, audio-visual tele-conferencing, CD-ROMs and the Internet to take supplemental or professional development courses or earn a degree.

Dawson Creek student Jaime Wilde is working toward a BSc in Ecology and Environmental Biology. She's on campus during the school year but recently finished an accelerated course from home to meet requirements for a minor in Psychology.

"I took the option of distance ed because it meant I didn't have to spend an extra semester down in Vancouver," says Wilde, who is entering her fourth year of studies. "I had to be pretty disciplined but it was worth it to get the course done and be able to work a full-time summer job here."

DE&T develops 30 courses per year and each course is equivalent in quantity and quality of work required to the same course as presented at the university.

DE&T provides a range of services such as needs assessment, policy development and instructional design in collaboration with local, national, and international clients and partners. The division works with both public and private educational institutions as well as business and industry.