Florida Distance Learning Consortium
FLORIDA DISTANCE LEARNING CONSORTIUM
Florida's Online Presence for K–20 Education
The Florida Distance Learning Consortium (FDLC) was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 1996. In 2003, it completed a merger with the Florida Virtual Campus and expanded its mission to provide coordination in the development, delivery, marketing, and acquisition of distance learning instruction and its infrastructure across the K–20 system.
FDLC provides an online catalog of distance learning courses and degree programs at http://www.distancelearn.org. The catalog lists thousands of courses and more than 230 degree and certificate programs in many disciplines offered by Florida's eleven state universities, twenty-eight community colleges, and some of Florida's private colleges and universities. Each institution is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. More than 290,000 students are currently taking courses or earning a degree at a distance from participating institutions at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels.
Distance Learning Program
FDLC provides information about distance learning opportunities at Florida institutions. The programs and courses listed on the Consortium's Web site meet the same academic standards of those found on-site at participating institutions. Students can generally study, take classes, and complete entire degree programs at any time and from any place.
The electronic catalog provides information about distance learning programs offered and lists thousands of distance learning courses in several different subject areas. Students can search the database by institution, term/semester, delivery method, subject/discipline, keywords, or course prefix and/or number. Once a student has located a course of interest, clicking on the college offering the course links the student to that institution and allows them to enroll. Each institution enters its own course information; therefore, the catalog reflects only those courses currently entered by each institution.
Participating institutions select the delivery methods and have their own distance learning policies and procedures. Courses and programs are taught in a variety of delivery formats including the Internet, real-time two-way television conference, audio tapes or audio conferencing, printed materials through a correspondence or independent-study program, videos that can be viewed on a local TV channel or checked out of the library, or through a combination of these technologies.
The predominant delivery method is through the Internet, and courses are offered in real time or asynchronously. Internet courses require students to have access to a computer, a modem with an Internet connection, a World Wide Web browser, and e-mail. Twoway television courses include live audio and visual communication between multiple parties and locations using video and computer technology and satellite transmission. Audio courses are presented through audiotapes or through audio conferencing. Print courses use instructor-student print-based communication and are exchanged by postal service. Telecourses take advantage of public educational broadcast channels for distribution. Videotape courses can be checked out from the library and viewed by attaching a VCR to a television. Multimode courses incorporate a variety of technologies, such as the Internet, CDROM, video, TV, and print materials.
Programs of Study
The individual colleges and universities grant the degrees offered through FDLC. Students need to work with their home campus to ensure that they fulfill the requirements of the degree program. Each institution is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Appropriate national organizations accredit the academic programs. Currently, more than 160 associate, bachelor's, master's, and a few doctoral degrees are offered. In addition, more than seventy special or certificate programs are listed in the online catalog. Participating institutions regularly add degree programs.
To better assist students in searching the catalog, the Consortium's Web site has a "personal assistant" function that allows students to save course searches as well as searches for the specific classes of interest to them; it also enables students to receive information from a selected college or university as a way to help them get started. Each institution provides its own student support services. The distancelearn.org Web site provides links to student support services, such as admissions, financial aid, registration, and academic advising for each institution.
Credits can be earned as a combination of on-campus and distance learning courses or, for many programs, credit can be completed entirely at a distance. Each institution determines the number of credits required to complete the degree programs offered. Credits are typically transferable, but students should check with their home institution before taking a course.
The same faculty members who teach on-campus courses at the institutions often design and teach the distance learning courses as well. Participating institutions determine who teaches each course and provide ongoing training and support to both the face-to-face and distance learning fac ulty members. The percentage of fac ulty members who have doctoral or advanced degrees varies among the participating institutions.
Participating institutions have their own admission requirements and make admission decisions to accept students into a program. Admission criteria are the same as those for on-campus courses. Students may be able to complete the entire application for admission online for many of the participating institutions.
Tuition and Fees
Each college or university determines tuition and fees for the courses and programs it offers. Some institutions also charge supplemental fees for particular classes or, in some cases, there is an additional fee to take a course at a distance.
Financial aid opportunities are available for students enrolled in distance learning courses. Students should apply for financial aid through the college or university offering the courses.
Application procedures for distance learning offerings are the same as those for on-campus courses. Application requirements vary among the participating institutions. FDLC's Web site provides links to each institution's academic calendar, which includes application deadlines and other important dates for students to note during the application process. Students can often complete the application for admission online.
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