Not so distant

The numbers are in and Bob’s are incredible. A few weeks ago he defied space and time to give a lecture on philosophy to my students in Japan by video. We watched, and then a few days later students composed some questions for Bob which were video recorded and then zapped to Canada. Bob responded by email in what was just a matter of hours.The students have also benefited from lectures delivered face-to-face by two of my colleagues here. Brennen, a guy from Californa, spoke about the underlying causes of the Onin War in Japan some six centuries ago. Then last Tuesday, Mihoko, a Japanese woman who earned her education MA in the US, spoke about her experiences on both sides of the Pacific.The first thing I wanted students to do today was to consider different ways we think about distance. I gave them a piece of paper with the names of their four lecturers on it. Their task was to rank, from 1 to 4, the instructors based on how close they feel to them (1 being the closest and 4 the most distant). A few comments before I get to the numbers. Several students in the class have had at least one of the residential instructors. I, for example, have a number of cheerleaders who signed up for this lecture course simply because they had taken a mandatory class with me last year and probably figured that they could do worse. With regards to Bob, we watched his lecture during class time, but students also had the opportunity to watch it again on their own.I didn’t have time to EXCEL the results until after class, but during the lecture I mentioned reasons why any one of the instructors could be ranked first or last. And I predicted that Bob, despite the geographical distance, would probably not be far off the pack.And the averages are:
Bob 1.95
Brennen 2.75
Dean 1.82
Mihoko 2.32
In addition, Bob is #1 here in several students’ hearts. And as he has two more video lectures to go, I’m looking over my shoulder.

6 thoughts on “Not so distant

  1. sob2 — good to see you back. Missed your presence. And by the way, great choice of word. Most in the distance ed field would call it social presence. When I was explaining the assignment a student asked if we could use our web cams to talk with Bob “live at a distance”. “It’s midnight there now, people sleep”. Bob’s written responses were so thorough, and written in such a friendly manner that I think they now understand that the geographic distance and the medium weren’t the only elements at play.


  2. I really love the idea of this form of ‘distance learning’. It’s so creative. I have a close kinship with teaching–married to one, mother to two, and lifelong supporter of creativity in all its forms.


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