I may have an opportunity to help write an article for an upcoming special edition of USA Today involving distance learning. One feature involves “exotic” or remarkable distance learning experiences or stories that have happened or are happening now. Do you have any to share, or have you read any that come to mind? People taking an online class from the middle of the South Pacific, someone earning their degree from a mountain cabin deep in the Canadian Rockies… stuff like that. If you have read something along these lines, please include the link in your comment if you can find it! 🙂

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6 Responses to Most remarkable distance learning stories

  1. Cheri Toledo says:

    Hi Wes,

    I am a professor in the Curriculum & Instruction department in the College of Education at Illinois State University. I’ve been teaching online for over 5 years now and absolutely relish in the freedom that it provides. This summer (2006) I am teaching 2 online master’s courses and a blended doctoral course. Because of the mobility of distance learning I am sitting in Louisville, KY writing this blog and facilitating my classes.

    Now that doesn’t seem like much of a deal … but the reason I’m in Louisville is to watch my husband (and others) compete in the United States Transplant Games – sponsored by the National Kidney Foundation. There are over 1000 athetes competing and thousands more spectators for this huge event. In 2004, my husband, Nick, was the recipient of a heart – since that time he has been able to reconnect with many of the active parts of his healthy pre-transplant life. He competed in two cycling events and plans on adding badminton to his repertoire at Pittsburg in 2008.

    I’m not sure how many other recipients, living donors, or donor family members here at the Games are taking or teaching online courses – all I know is that this is something I would never miss and teaching online gives me the ability to continue my professional duties and experience the miraculous stories of transplantion.

    Cheri Toledo

    By the way, make sure to sign your donor card and talk with your family. 🙂 You can learn more about the

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Wow, that is amazing Cheri! Definitely a transformative example of distance learning’s power! Please feel free to comment here again with the link it looks like you were going to add– I’ll edit your original comment and insert the link and extra text.

  3. Hello again Wesley.

    The El Paso ISD (El Paso, TX) has almost finished purchasing video conference carts for our 86 campuses. I believe we have about six more to purchase. Although this technology is relatively new to most teachers we did a big push in February encouraging teacher to design lessons incorporating distance learning activities. As a result of this we had nearly 60 teachers submit lesson plans and implement the activities in their classrooms. Lessons ranged from collaborating with other classrooms withing our district, to participating with schools across the country as part of the “Read Across America” campaign. The lessons weren’t without their quirks, but that is to be expected from teachers who are expirementin with classroom technologies for the first time. I suspect EPISD will see bigger and better things next school year from these teachers who have discovered the power of this tool. Out of the 60 lesson plans submitted, my department randomly drew 30. The teachers whose names were drawn were given an all expense paid trip to this year’s NECC Conference in San Diego, not a bad prize huh!

    I also had the opportunity last Monday to attend the innagural meeting of the Far West Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA), if you would like to be put in contact with the co-chair (a co-worker of mine) please drop me an email and I’d be happy to provide you with the information. I’m sure she has a wealth of information and contacts that you may be interested in.

    Take Care!

    Brian Grenier

  4. Brian Crosby says:

    Wes – This must have happened 7 or 8 years ago. A local elementary school had (still has?) a special room set-up just for distance education. We were doing a local training for Marsville and training a group in Nebraska at the same time.

    It was pretty cool except we kept losing our connection (which you would notice because the group in Nebraska would suddenly freeze on the TV). The only person that knew how to run the system was the principal, so she would have to re-aquire the signal and then we could continue (5 to 15 minutes later). This freezing happened a lot and AT&T (I think) was very apolegetic – then you had to question the Nebraska group to figure out where we were when we lost the signal. They had never done Marsville so answering their questions was a challenge since the TV cameras were static and locked on a long shot to show the whole group of about 12 of us in Reno sitting at long tables.

    What was really cool was that 6 weeks after this training the group from Nebraska came to our “Link-Up Day” when all the students meet to build their habitats on Mars and share all their other work – so we got to meet them that day. They were quite impressed by the whole deal.

    It was a very intriguing technology at that time, but problematic to say the least. I’d love to try it again now.

    Hope that helps somehow.


  5. Cheri says:

    Hi Wes,

    I just saw your response to my post last summer. Here’s the link: http://www.giftofhope.org/

    It’s never too late when it comes to signing up for donation.


  6. Cheri Toledo says:


    I just saw the first issue of Distance Learning Today and your article that chronicles my post about teaching online from Louisville. Thanks for the plug and for seeing the value and all it meant to me to be with my husband.

    By the way, he came in 12th in the cycling. We’ll be going to Pittsburgh in 2008 where he’ll be cycling again, and adding badminton.

    See you at SITE.


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