Norwegian professors learn about MSU’s long-distance education
A group of professors from Telemark University College in Skien, Norway, are on the Minot State University campus to learn more about how MSU delivers long-distance education.
By Andrea Johnson – Minotdailynews.com
“They’re very much where we were six years ago with distance education,” said Kristen Warmoth, dean of MSU’s Center for Extended Learning. Telemark is spread out across different campuses, so school officials are interested in offering more online classes for their students.
MSU and Telemark signed a partnership agreement in 2007 and the two institutions hope to work together through professor and student exchanges and shared degree programs. Warmoth said one of the Norwegian professors suggested it would be a good idea to offer a Norwegian language class via Telemark to students in North Dakota. Telemark also offers a number of arts and crafts courses that the institution is interested in offering online. Warmoth said she’s interested in seeing how that is done successfully, since most of MSU’s online offerings are academic oriented. Warmoth said the two groups of professors have a lot of ideas to share.
Anders Davidsen, head of studies in teacher education on Telemark’s Notodden campus, said Telemark is similar in size to Minot State University, with about 5,000 students and as a specialist in sociology and history, he’s also interested in the shared Scandinavian culture between North Dakota and Skien. Davidsen and Warmoth both said it’s important today for students to travel internationally and to experience different cultures. Warmoth said it’s a cliche, but also true, that the world is shrinking and students must be prepared to compete globally.
Warmoth and MSU staff talked about the logistics of a successful online program, including providing technical support for students who are new to taking online classes or who might not have the right software or hardware on their computers. Warmoth started out thinking that students who take online classes would be those who like technology and are comfortable with online classes, but that isn’t the case. Many students take online classes simply because they are working or because they need a course to finish a degree and find that it is only offered online. Many students tell Warmoth their biggest concern is dealing with the technology. MSU has an online tutorial program and staff on hand who answer questions about problems students encounter with the online class and who help to troubleshoot problems with their computers. The support component is critical to the program’s success for MSU, Warmoth told the Norwegians Thursday morning.
The Telemark faculty include Davidsen, Hjordis Hjukse, coordinator for the online master’s program in art and design education; Kirsten Kruse, lecturer of Norwegian in teacher education; Bodil Akselvoll, head of the department of folk art and folk music; and Liv Ertzgaard Ringen, lecturer of arts and crafts. The group will be visiting Minot State and North Dakota through Tuesday.