Distance Learning Student Frequently Asked Questions
How do I access the material?
You can access the materil on Blackboard by going to "Quicklinks" on the left side of the webpage.
If you have login problems, please contact iTap at 765-494-4000.
How do I contact my instructor?
How much study time should I plan for?
Should I print my material?
What is adobe acrobat and why do I need it?
What is the course calendar?
What do I get for the money I pay for classes?
What your tuition or student fees pay for at any college or university is the opportunity to engage in a learning process with the potential of achieving a standard of performance that confers a degree at the end. The key word of that statement is “opportunity”. What students are paying for is the opportunity to engage with a process, faculty, and content that they can, if they so choose, to learn well enough to achieve a standard that, if attained, will be acknowledged with a diploma or certificate. The fees pay for access to faculty, content, the library resources, discounts at national veterinary medical meetings that allow student discounts, sometimes discounts on textbooks (although we’re seeing these far, far less), and the organization of material in a way that allows the student to track their own progression towards their goal.
Is it cheaper elsewhere. Purdue is the most expensive VT DL program (St. Petersburg is slightly cheaper than we are but pretty close when their additional fees are included), and we’ll always be far more expensive than San Juan Community College’s DL program, or Cedar Valley Community College program, or any other community college system program because community colleges are much cheaper to run than larger universities.
Can the same goal of earning an AS degree from an AVMA accredited program be attained for less? Absolutely. And you see far more students in the less expensive programs than you do at Purdue. We never set out to have a business model of enrolling 2000 students as one of the other VT programs used. The reason we started this program was ONLY to provide a Purdue VT opportunity (not just a VT opportunity) to those individuals who absolutely could not attend an on-campus, brick and mortar institution. When we counsel new students we let them know this is an intense academic program (it is the same content as the on-campus competitive admission program that has 120+ applicants of which 30 are selected each year), that it is expensive, that the intensity of the program means on average students will complete about 3.5-4 credits per semester, that successful completion of this program means about 4-5 years and is a slow, but steady, pace, and that DL is generally a far more difficult educational model for trying to take a 70 credit hour program. It is no wonder that we take in fewer students and have the fewest graduates of the DL programs.
However, graduates of this program are incredibly self-motivated, mature, self-disciplined, and possess a very strong knowledge of the science and medicine underlying their nursing skills….the latter point being something not emphasized to the same degree in other programs. Every one of our DL graduates already had employment by the time they graduated and we have a 92% pass rate for first-time test takers on the VTNE for all of the Purdue VTDL graduates. DL graduates join the ranks of the 1015 on-campus graduates from Purdue University’s VT program since its inception in 1975. When you look at the number of graduates being turned out by other VT programs each year, our number of 30-35 graduates a year (both on-campus and DL) is quite small by comparison. But, we have always strived for quality of graduates, not quantity.
Does the program use audio/video?
Audio or video has its place and is used in courses where motor skill techniques need to be demonstrated (nursing courses). Video lectures, also referred to somewhat derogatorily as “talking head”, are used in some courses as supplemental content material. But video presentations as the primary means to transmit information has been questioned both as used DL education and in on-campus (lectures). A lot of the negatives relate to some fundamental ideas of cognitive learning: in order for anything to be retained in memory and hence “learned”, the student needs to deeply process the information (think about it, reflect upon it, and use it).
On-campus lectures and video presentations tend to be quite passive and often do little to engage the student’s deeper thinking /learning processes. Stimulating cognitive functions to help students think and process information more deeply and also to organize the information in a manner that makes sense to the student (not the teacher’s way of organizing) is more effectively done by posing questions to which the student must recall and analyze information to provide answers. By formulating answers, the brain more deeply processes the information and increases the odds (but provides no guarantee) that the information will be better retained. I used a couple of narrative power points to discuss a couple of more complex concepts. Additional visual or auditory means of REVIEWING the information previously read or studies is an effective way of helping a concept to “click” with the students (so it makes sense).
It has been repeatedly demonstrated that discussion sessions are helpful in helping students explore issues, learn interactive skills such as debate and formation of arguments, and practice in critical assessment of information from sources. Discussion sessions have not been found to be effective with transmission of primary content (the material that needs to be learned and retained) nor have they been particularly effective in helping to diagnose where a student’s misconception lies in their misunderstanding of a complex process. The latter (diagnosing student misconception) is far more effective with a one-on-one communication with an instructor that is focused on a meaningful conversation about the mechanism in question. Thus, the individual instructor has the option to use discussion boards, but should have an educational reason for doing so, not just to have them. The research points to some learner characteristics in adult learners that suggest adult learners do not find discussions of educational value unless they are directed towards a very specific goal and from which they can obtain tangible, useful information. Because many discussion boards can become rather chit-chatty (which is okay if students want to do this), many adult learners tend to eschew mandatory participation in discussion boards as an unnecessary and non-productive waste of time. Because our instructors understand their content very well, and the concepts of effective education in this challenging medium, I can appreciate why some courses do not have discussions and others do. Our curriculum is very intense on content and concept acquisition (as well as the motor skills), and discussion boards do not lend themselves to this aspect of content or skill acquisition.
Having said that, all of our instructors understand that the communication of goal-oriented questions and concerns between students and DL instructor is important.
What does AVMA accreditation have to do with the content I am learning?
The list of AVMA Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA) required and recommended tasks are found online at the AVMA website. This is a list of minimal required tasks. Programs are free to require additional tasks above and beyond the CVTEA requirements.
The AVMA required tasks are the minimum required for consideration of accreditation, NOT for graduation from a program. Those are two different things. For a Purdue graduate, the on-campus students are required to perform tasks above and beyond the minimum requirements When this DL program was started, one primary directive from alumni, faculty, and staff was that the DL not have any lesser criteria to attain the degree than the on-campus program. The concern was that the DL program, which would grant an AS degree indistinguishable on a diploma or transcript from the on-campus program, would not diminish or degrade the value of the Purdue diploma. Thus, the on-campus and DL programs must have the same requirements for graduation and this skill is one of the Purdue required skills.
Much of the Purdue program goes well beyond the minimum required by AVMA accreditation standards. The depth of learning required in each of the courses is typically deeper than found in many other AVMA accredited programs. It is important for a veterinary facility to thoroughly review mentorship taks lists and they should not sign a Clinical Mentorship agreement with a student stating that they have the equipment to do so and the student would have to find another facility that does. It is not uncommon for students to have to seek help from another facility (especially since few facilities also do cattle, horses, and lab animals), but in most cases the veterinarian with whom the student has been working with since the beginning of the program is helpful in identifying colleagues that may be able to help or at least helping point the student in the right direction.