• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Photo: Headshot of Rich Barlow, an older white man with dark grey hair and wearing a grey shirt and grey-blue blazer, smiles and poses in front of a dark grey backdrop.

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

Comments & Discussion

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There are 8 comments on BU’s Long Distance Learners

  1. I agree. The online program brings together people from all over the world who otherwise might never have met each other. It has provided me with the opportunity to study in a program that is meeting my academic and career needs.

  2. The article claims: “BU, which created its first online program in 2001, …”. This may be correct, but it is correct in a relatively narrow sense of the word. In the COE, we had “Corporate classroom” in the 1980’s and early 1990’s with about 30 major industrial subscribers. I along with many other COE faculty taught on TV for years, and it was fun- especially when the phone would ring and on the other end of the line was a pizza delivery man (not a student with a question). The grad students we had were mature, motivated and interesting to talk to.

    Where am I going with this tale? Well, a distinction should be made between “distance learning” and “web-based instruction”. We should have a greater sense of our history both in the COE and BU in general. This is important in the present case since our President and Provost have their primary appointments in the COE and the institution should be able to relate some interesting anecdotes as the administration is notified of the most recent awards.

  3. I’m currently enrolled as a BU MET student in the Computer Science department and am pursuing an MS degree in Computer Information Systems.

    I’ve previously attended a traditional full-time 4-year school and completed an MBA degree in a classroom-based evening part-time study program and think that the online format is interesting insofar as what ways it is superior to a traditional classroom program.

    The online format of the BU courses is definitely superior in terms of being convenient and easy to work into my schedule — in my experience as an evening MBA student, one thing I hated was working all day then rushing to class and then getting home at 10 PM only to then have to shovel the sidewalk and set up the recycling for the next day. I also especially like the 7-week semester format of the distance education programs. The academic calendar of the evening MBA program was based off the undergrad shedule, so we had no classes for the weeks of fall break, spring break and easter break. Although it is nice to have a break in the weekly schedule, I still have to go to my regualar full-time job, so I’d have just assumed the semesters finish a few weeks earlier.

    I the online discussion forum of the online classes is good and bad. Bad by not being so good for encouraging real-time interaction and thus all discussions typically involve extra delays. However, very good in that other students need to do a better job of gathering their thoughts, doing research and crafting a cohesive message. I’ve found that in classroom contexts, some students can tend to dominate the conversation and thus prevent other students from participating. The online format allows students to drift in and out of various discussion threads and thus gain a better overall perspective than if they were to participate in a classroom-based discussion group.

    I think the biggest minus of an online program is the lack of a rich interactive experience. Although efforts are made to provide forums where students can interact in topics that are not related to the course, I doubt that many people form many long-term relationships with other students in the online program. I am still very much in-touch with some of my undergrad classmates, but not in-touch with students from my MBA program or online program at all. However, that is probably the price to pay for the convenience of the online format.

    Kurt H.
    BU MSCIS Student
    Minneapolis, MN

  4. I am a online BU graduate student and I am happy to see BU winning the Award for Excellence in Institution-wide Online Education.

    I am part of that 92% that has been, though tired to say the least, very satisfied with my educational experience at BU.

    The program is not at all easy, and I would say has an added difficulty which is the self discipline necessary. There is no schedule time or place to be doing the work, which means you need to make it.

    Two Thumbs Up!!

    Lauren Goldfinger

    Graduate student working words my MSM in Business Continuity, Security and Risk Management.

  5. Although it’s only partially related, you should add the great job the Met College has been doing with the Evergreen program. I have been a non-stop attendee of wide-range courses available for us to audit.

    One correction: The Distance Learning system was established at School of Education by Dr. Gaylen Kelley, then the Director of the Ed Media and Technology program, connecting students from Alaska (first) to the program via audio/video conferencing system, which has developed into a well-designed Distance Learning program, available today throughout the university.

  6. I am in the last semester of my online master’s classes, and I have to say it has been an amazing experience. After “talking” with classmates for a year, we got together for our summer studios in June. I now have great friends that I Skype with (they – Canada and Kuwait) me, Florida. Every University needs to offer online classes. I only wish BU had an online MFA program.

  7. The instructional designers, production staff, and student services team working under Nancy Coleman’s direction are terrific. It is a well-designed approach and the award is very well-deserved! As a former staff member, I have seen first-hand the quality result that comes from the way she manages the process. Two key features stand out: designers creating courses collaboratively with faculty and caring administrators helping students succeed in the courses. The quality is even more evident to me since I began working as a freelance instructional designer in recent years. I’ve seen that the BU model is far better than the average distance education model; it is better managed and better funded than most. With the talented folks there, I have no doubt that it will continue to be award-winning!

  8. This article does not mention that Boston University School of Medicine has a program in Healthcare Emergency Management that offers a “virtual classroom” which enables students to attend the program and receive a Master’s of Science from anywhere in the world.

    Unlike typical online programs, all lectures in the Healthcare Emergency Management Program are in real-time via VTC (video tele conference) software. This enables students and faculty to engage in discussions with their peers wherever they may be.

    For more information visit: http://www.bumc.bu.edu/bmcm/

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