Instructor goes long distance to teach class

Instructor goes long distance to teach class

Monday, May 06, 2013

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College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

OTC instructor James Sheldon went out of his way recently to emphasize "long" in the term long-distance learning when he conducted a class from the Bahamas last week with his students who were sitting in a science lab at the Richwood Valley campus.

Shelton, who teaches environmental science and biology, was in the Bahamas earning his SCUBA diving certification and planned to hold a class from the ocean setting.

Students were in the classroom waiting to see and hear Shelton via SKYPE, but the video portion of the connection failed to work so Shelton conducted an audio-only lecture for his class.

Shelton was located in the area of the Bahamas where a number of James Bond movies were set, including "Casino Royale" starring Daniel Craig.

"The water is a crystal blue color and then if you go out 300 feet, it turns dark blue and is inhabited by sharks," he told the class.

Shelton described some of vegetation and animal life in the waters. He spotted a lion fish and a spiny starfish during his dives.

Before heading out on his trip, Shelton said he has always been around water.

"I always dived and snorkeled. I was a big fan of 'Sea Hunt' (a TV series based on a SCUBA diver). Iíve always been interested," he said.

Shelton got approval for the long-distance lecture from school administrators and students, who were excited by the idea.

"The students were enthusiastically on board with this. It was absolutely serendipitous that the lecture I had scheduled the day I was gone was about the oceanic environment," he said.

Shelton called the science lab at class time. Lab assistant Kelli Cole monitored the phone, took questions from students and passed them on to Shelton.

Shelton said he was amazed at the narrow streets, the beat up conditions of taxis and the traffic control devices that were used on the islands.

"There are no stop signs. You give way instead of stopping. There are no intersections. Everything is a roundabout," he said.

But the question one student asked seemed to be most on their minds.

"Are you bringing back any souvenirs?" a student asked.

"Yes," Shelton said.

Steve Koehler is coordinator of media relations for Ozarks Technical Community College.