Telephone conversation soon to take place between a teacher and one of thousands of students who will be enrolled in the new University of Maryland Distance Education courses:
SALISBURY -- Hello, is this my teacher?
I don't know, son. What course are you taking?
On my computer they call it Biology 101 DE.
Young man, you must be enrolled in my new Distance Education course beamed throughout Maryland from our flagship campus in College Park. Where are you calling from?
I'm in my dorm room at Salisbury State University on the Eastern Shore, and I just can't understand what chromosomes are. Can you help me?
Of course I can. Why don't you write me a letter explaining what your problem is, and I'll get back to you in no time.
My problem is that I don't understand anything you said about it in your television lecture this afternoon, and there are no biology teachers left on this campus to help me.
Well, do you think you could come up to College Park and meet with me during my office hour from 3 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays?
I= I can't. I have to be at soccer practice every afternoon.
The practical view
Well, son, I don't want to interfere with your education. But you shouldn't worry too much. Your credit will be based on the score in your computer final, and we fail only 3 percent of all those who take it.
I do terribly on multiple-choice tests, sir, even when I understand the stuff, and I don't have a clue about biology. I've been listening to you all semester, and none of it makes any sense to me.
Well, son, if your problem is the mode of testing, you should go to the learning center which is still on your campus. In fact, since we began long-distance education, there has been a real boom in learning centers at the satellite universities.
Sir, I don't know what to say. I'm really glad I don't have to go sit in classrooms anymore and that I can tape all my lectures and watch them whenever I get time. Still there seems to be something missing. College just isn't what I expected. My dorm room is comfy and there's plenty to do on campus. Even the food is pretty good. But I sort of miss the teachers.
Allen N. Smith teaches communication arts at Salisbury State University.