Distance learning office relocates


Joe Talerico, Contributing writer

Mercyhurst’s Office of Distance Learning has successfully relocated out of the Cohen Health Center all the way to Weber Hall. “Due to the amount of space the Cohen Health Center needed to take on during this time, the Distance Learning space has moved in order to provide an additional area for evaluation of potential COVID-19 patients that allows for a contained airflow system,” said Katie Ishler, the office’s senior Instructional Designer. Although the move was unexpected, it went smoothly and now brings the office closer to related departments like Graduate Admissions. “The move went smoothly with the help of various departments across campus,” Ishler said. Distance Learning received help from the Maintenance department, which moved all their furniture to Weber Hall and the IT Department which helped get the office’s technology successfully set up and running. “We are settling in, and the new office location is great. It is wonderful to have a more centralized location to be closer to faculty and students,” Ishler said. The Office of Distance Learn-ing is in charge of Mercyhurst’s distance learning initiatives and programs. The office offers online graduate programs and graduate certifications. It consists of three instructional designers, Katie Ishler, Marcus Masternak, and Jona-than Kim, who work with faculty to provide high-quality distance learning courses. They help make instructional materials, modules, and lessons for the classes. Matthew Stoey, the office’s Stu-dent Success coordinator, also provides aid to graduate students who are either on-campus or on-line. Educational technologist Bil-ly Wager helps faculty implement new technologies into their classes and completes other technology projects for the Office of the Provost. Ishler recommends that any students who are interested in taking online courses should speak to their academic advisor about potential web courses. These are flexible classes that are fully online and consist of required activities, replacing traditional class time. They are geographically independent due to their online nature, so students anywhere in the world can take them. Students also have access to the same on-campus resources they would have if they were taking more traditional classes. Prospective students can expect to spend between 8-16 hours per week on the web courses, however, it varies from class to class. The classes generally consist of the material posted on Blackboard which includes video lectures, readings, and exams. Some classes also contain midterms and finals, or a capstone project. Instead of in-person tests, some classes will have written assignments and applied projects. Students interact with each other via discussion threads, collaborative projects, online meetings, and small group meetings. The Office of Distance Learning can now be found in Weber Hall, which is located next to the library and the Taylor Little Theatre. Staff expects that the office will remain in this location for the foreseeable future. Students can also find the office’s information and resources on the Mercyhurst Student HUB under academic resources or at mercyhurst.edu. Anyone wishing to contact the office with questions or for more information should use the office’s email distancelearning@mercy-hurst.edu or call them at (814) 824-2656.