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Distance Education

Distance Learning at MSPP

Frequently Asked Questions

What is distance learning?
What type of course delivery methods does MSPP utilize?
Can you tell me more about the blended course structure?
How do I know if a blended or online course is right for me?
Do I need extensive experience with computers in order to succeed in a blended or online program?
Are the blended course lectures live, or can I view them at my leisure?
For any MSPP course, do I have the option of viewing a lecture online or coming to class each week?
How important are the blended programs’ weekends-in-residence (WIR)?
Because there is less “face-to-face” time in a blended or online course, how will I remain part of the MSPP community?
What MSPP services are available for students taking blended or online courses?
Is financial aid available for blended and online students?
What is the application process for the distance learning degree programs?

Q: What is distance education?

A: Distance learning is defined as a formal educational process where the student and instructor are not always in the same location. Distance learning courses may be offered as synchronous (live) or asynchronous (archived) and may utilize correspondence study, audio, video, or computer technologies.

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Q: What type of course delivery methods does MSPP utilize?

A: Every MSPP program falls under one of three course delivery classifications:

  • Traditional: Course meets face-to-face, but may use web-based technology to supplement a meeting, or present course materials and information.
  • Blended: Course blends online and face-to-face instruction. Most of the content (lectures, discussions, readings, assignments) are delivered online through MSPP’s Course Management System, Moodle, and then group work, role playing and other activities better suited for face-to-face learning are reserved for when the course meets on campus. The on campus requirement varies for every program, so please visit the program page for more information.
  • Online: All of the course content is delivered online. There are no face-to-face meetings.

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Q: Can you tell me more about the blended course structure?

A: MSPP’s blended courses incorporate both online and on-campus study. Under the MSPP blended model, students view the weekly lecture, take part in weekly assignments, discussions, and collaborative projects with faculty members and classmates, all using the online learning platform. Each student is then required to attend one intensive weekend-in-residence (WIR) per course in addition to other on-campus gatherings.

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Q: How do I know if a blended or online course is right for me?

A: Graduate students from all backgrounds can benefit from the flexibility and intensity that a blended or online course can provide. Research has shown, however, that students who are self-motivated, proactive, organized, open to new ways of communication, and have had some experience with technology do exceptionally well under this particular model.

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Q: Do I need extensive experience with computers in order to succeed in a blended or online program?

A: While we recommend that students come in with basic computer literacy skills, blended or online programs are not limited to students who are “technologically savvy.” In addition to an online orientation and trainings that will precede the semester, MSPP has a highly skilled support staff ready to address any concerns or problems you may have with the distance component of your program.

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Q: Are the distance learning course lectures live, or can I view them at my leisure?

A: Most MSPP blended and online courses lectures are offered as “asynchronous” lectures, which means you can login and view them at your own pace, provided you meet the assigned deadlines. Some courses will require you to login to an occasional live (synchronous) lecture, or to a scheduled group project meeting, however this will be made clear to you at the onset of the course

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Q: For any MSPP course, do I have the option of viewing a lecture online or coming to class each week?

A: Not at this time. Currently you must adhere to your program’s particular delivery method.

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Q: How important are the blended program’s weekends-in-residence (WIR)?

A: The WIR is required and vital to the cohort and experiential learning model. Most of MSPP’s blended courses include one required weekend-in-residence, which is typically held on campus from 8:30am to 5:30pm or 9:00am to 6:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday during the course. The WIR brings students together on campus to build upon the material from the weekly online activities. Students must make sure they can attend the WIR before they sign up for a course, since the WIR experiences cannot be made up or replaced. Note: The online programs do not have a WIR.

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Q: Because there is less “face-to-face” time in a blended or online course, how will I remain part of the MSPP community?

A: MSPP’s distance learning approach is centered on active learning, engagement, and community. In addition to the in-depth weekly online discussions with fellow classmates and your professor, the intensive weekend-in-residence component of a blended program will allow you and your cohort to build strong academic and social bonds. Students participating in distance learning courses are also encouraged to come to campus to study, work on group projects, and participate in campus-wide activities and social events if possible. In addition, students enrolled in the programs have access to all of the same student service resources as face-to-face students.

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Q: What MSPP services are available for students taking blended or online courses?

A: MSPP’s wide range of services are available to every student, whether you are on-campus or at a distance. Please visit the student services links found to the left to learn more.

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Q: Is financial aid available for blended and online students?

A: Yes! As long as you are enrolled in a graduate level degree program, every MSPP student is encouraged to meet with the financial aid office to discuss what financial packages might be available to them.

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Q: What is the application process for the blended degree programs?

A: The application process is for the most part the same for all MSPP programs. For each MSPP program, students are required to complete an application, submit an application fee, and provide letters of recommendation and official transcripts. Programs may have additional requirements, which can be found under the individual program website. For non-graduate level, or non-matriculating courses, please contact the MSPP admission office for more information.

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Updated 1/29/13

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