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How much work is this, anyhow?
Mostly that depends on what kind of student you are. If you are a quick read, and are fairly confident about what you think, then there will be less time online than if you like to sit and ponder and mull and stew, and then really aren't sure you want to say that anyhow! Each section of reading should take one to two hours. There is some variation from section to section, but we do try to limit what we give you to read. Honest. The course objectives are on the home page for the program, linked above. You might expect to spend two hours per week reading and writing to the course. There are also reading weeks built in when you couldn't really post if you wanted to. Our early classes told us that we needed that extra time. So, two hours a week is probably a safe minimum. You can do more, but that is up to you.
About Distance Learning
The format of our program is based upon asynchronous learning processes. When we investigated the different styles of on-line learning available, we found that of the choices, live vs. asynchronous, and all the combined variations, asynchronous provided us with the flexibility that we needed. We found that the level of satisfaction in the program was not influenced by those persons who attended a preliminary meeting face to face meeting in Baltimore, 2003, and so we dropped that requirement. Some of you who participate may never see us! But one thing that has happened is that people in the online program are longing to come to the Fall meeting in November, so that they really CAN see each other!
What is asynchronous learning?
Essentially it means that people learn at different moments in time from the same source. You might post a message at 6 PM, and might I read it at 11 PM and respond to what you wrote earlier. I might also ask a question related to something else I had read, or seen clinically. The next morning might I log on and find that some night owls had posted responses to both my posts, as well as additional comments to your posting. Talk about world wide web! With students in the Orient, Europe, and North America, the learning goes on around the clock. Faculty routinely check in and read what has been written. Clarifying comments, re-direction, support, and additional contributions round out the experience.
People present cases after working in small groups to hone their work, and then switch groups and present their case to the other small group that has just gone through the same process. This creates practice in formulating ideas and creates an atmosphere of collaboration. The model here is one of mutual consultation. Everybody participating in the program is a clinician with their own unique experience. Everyone has something to contribute. This next year faculty will be more active than last in case discussion, something our students have wanted.
Distance Learning Promises and Pitfalls
The distance learning module was created to accommodate the needs of a number of clinicians who requested participation in this program but were not located near a seminar site. The program was a pilot venture in 2002-3. It actually was an "adventure." We learned a lot in our two years, and had a very positive response from participants. Call it e-bonding, or something, but people really learned to value each other.
We will be using a commercially available on-line asynchronous learning tool, available through Memberfuse. ISSTD pays for the access, and then you log on to our customized site, courtesy of your faculty. Students learn to log on, read announcements, and enter discussion forums for the particular class content. Discussion forums stay accessible for up to 4 months after the last session.
Faculty take turns as the lead person for different units of the curriculum. Each person adds their own perspective. Case discussion is collegial and involves writing rather than "presenting" a clinical experience. The attitude of participants in case conferences is one of mutual consultation, and was very supportive. And, indeed, there were many interesting cases.
On-line learning is not for everybody. Some people just don't learn well visually. They need sound. What kind of learner are you? Do you like writing letters, leaving notes, etc.?
It is simply a matter of bookmarking the site, using passwords to enter, reading, reacting, and posting your comments. Couldn't be easier. Read the comments from folks in our first year:
"I want to say that I am finding this course an amazing learning experience. Even though I have been working with DDs for a number of years and am actively treating 9 cases as I write this, I am learning so much from the posts, questions, cases, and responses of everyone else."
"I agree that the course is demanding of time; however, it continues to be an enjoyable experience, and I am learning a lot. As a matter of fact, I received a new referral yesterday. I spoke with the woman, and she describes herself as a "multiple". I am very grateful for this course, as it will certainly be invaluable as I work with my first (known) DID patient...This course is/has been awesome, and being able to interact with each of you and learn from you, even when I haven't directly written back to say so, has been of immeasurable benefit to me!"
"I actually look forward to checking the board as often as I can, because I have learned so much. As one of the novice DD clinicians, I am hungry for as much info as possible. The faculty and students have been extremely supportive and knowledgeable and I feel very grateful for this course."
"First I want to share how meaningful this course has been and is continuing to be for me. I don’t think that I was cognizant when I signed on how much I would be learning and integrating through the readings, the feedback as well through the thoughtful and at times provocative questions. I am learning so much from both the faculty and students. I have so much appreciated everyone’s sharing, willingness to take risks. Having four faculty as well has been enriching as each of you has so freely shared your own wealth of experience and expertise. So often when I sitting with one of my dissociative clients of which I now have many, something that I have read, or a comment from this course will enter my mind and help clarify what I am hearing and feeling."
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ISSTD Center for Advanced Studies in Trauma and Dissociation
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