When I graduate, it will be from University of Maine at Augusta. But I’ve taken classes from Orono, Machias, Presque Isle, Fort Kent, USM, as well as Augusta. I’ve also taken classes in Rockland, on Vinalhaven, and even at my kitchen table. For my money, this is what distance learning is all about: access and options.
So let’s break it down.
Seven campuses make up the University of Maine System. These are University of Maine (located in Orono), University of Southern Maine (based in Portland and Gorham), UMaine Fort Kent, UMaine Machias, UMaine Presque Isle, UMaine Farmington, and UMaine Augusta. All the campuses offer online courses so students have lots of classes to choose from. I just counted 469 online courses for the spring semester. I’ve taken online classes from all these UMaine schools except Farmington, and all those credits count toward my UMA degree.
Besides the UMaine campuses, there are nine centers scattered around the state that are also part of the UMaine system. Formally, these are called University Colleges, as in UC Bath/Brunswick, UC East Millinocket, UC Ellsworth, UC Houlton, UC Norway/South Paris, UC Penquis Dover-Foxcroft, UC Rumford/Mexico, UC Saco, and UC Rockland, or as we say in these parts, URock. Vinalhaven is about an hour and twenty minutes by boat from the mainland, but once I get there, URock is only a couple minutes down the road.
Centers are usually administered by the UMaine campus that they’re nearest to. Their function is to bring classes closer to students in a large, widely populated state like Maine. At a center like URock, we take ITV classes, video conference classes, and live onsite classes. We also have access to the fabulous staff who can advise us about course selection and who are sooo good at smoothing away the glitches that sometimes arise. I don’t know about the other centers, but at URock we have two nice student lounges filled with computers, and a computer lab, to boot.
But wait! There’s more!
Besides campuses and centers, there are also about 30 community course sites that bring some classes even deeper into the far corners of the state. I won’t name all the towns listed but I count 3 islands among the sites, including the one I live on. Sites offer ITV classes only, either in synch with the live class on campus, or recorded for delayed viewing online. Sites also distribute course materials and proctor tests for students.
Add it up and there are almost 50 physical places where a student can take classes in Maine. Factor in those 469 online classes, and that’s a whole lot of learning opportunities, don’t you think? Like I said, distance learning = access and options.