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Distance Learning


The majority of WISR’s students live in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.  However, WISR also offers degree programs to students who live outside the area under special arrangements tailored to their specific learning needs and capabilities.  Over the years, we have found that most students admitted from outside the Bay Area do exceedingly well in our programs. We provide individualized, real-time instruction to students from outside the Bay Area, similar to the ways we work with local students nearby, except that we make extensive and regular use of phone conference calls instead of face-to-face meetings. Of course, some local students also prefer to participate by phone conference calls from time to time.

Students living throughout California, the rest of the US, and even in other countries around the world, are able to pursue academic degrees at WISR through regular phone and video conferences with faculty and to access seminars. They exchange drafts of papers through mail and e-mail, just as local students typically do, and they make occasional visits to WISR to participate on site in seminars and to meet with faculty and other students. Students who live too far from our Berkeley site to travel here may call into a phone conference line, or connect by internet—to be connected with a speaker phone and a web camera in our seminar room. Students and faculty on site at WISR and those students on the internet or their phone line, off site, will be able to interact and discuss issues, ideas and questions with one another.

Students living outside the area, and enrolling on or after February 1, 2015, are required to visit WISR on site at least once per year per year, to participate in one or more seminars, and in order to further develop their collegial relationships with faculty and fellow students.  In addition, distance students, like all students admitted after September 1, 2016, are required to participate in two seminars each month by audio or video conference, for the minimum number of months of study required of students in their degree program, or alternatively find other, substantive ways to collaborate with other students at WISR every month.


Here are examples of some alumni and current students who have studied, or are studying, from great distances from the Bay Area . . .

• A recent WISR PhD alumnus is a tenured professor of law in Boston.  As an Asian-American, he serves on community task forces which are fostering community dialogue to further multi-culturality in the greater Boston area.  His PhD studies focused on his specialization in labor law and workplace bullying, as well as his special interest in the role of intellectuals in promoting progressive social change.

• A former PhD student is a Nigerian who used his PhD studies at WISR to further social policy research aimed at redistributing the wealth from Nigerian oil resources to benefit impoverished communities there.

 Another recent PhD alumnus is originally from Cameroon, and now living in Bangladesh and working as Chair of the Department of Vocational and Technical Education at the Islamic University of Technology (IUT).  His studies at WISR are focused on evaluating and improving the technical education skills and knowledge of IUT’s students who will be returning to one of the over 50 countries represented among IUT’s student body.

• A faculty member at the University of California, San Diego, who specialized in multi-cultural education, teaching reading and writing to young children, and the creation of support systems for minority teachers.

• The historian for the Omaha tribe, who, while living in Nebraska, successfully obtained his MA at WISR with his studies focusing on cultural preservation projects growing out of his work with his tribe and with anthropologists, educators, public officials and the general public. Subsequently, he and a colleague of his in a neighboring community, collaborated and completed their PhDs at WISR, while working on a number of projects including their dissertation which was an in-depth history of the Omaha people from an Omaha perspective.

• A professor of “English as a Foreign Language” in Japan who was very involved in a number of facets of cross-cultural education.  His PhD studies at WISR furthered his professional writing, including a paper on “Ethnographies of Learning” presented at the 1997 TESOL Conference in Orlando, Florida.  His dissertation was concerned with researching and articulating a critical approach to learning and teaching culture, based on the study of “English as a Foreign Language” classrooms in Japan.

• Several former and current PhD students are licensed therapists living in such locales as Colorado, Hawaii, Germany and Seattle, who have pursued advanced work in the treatment of a wide variety of trauma survivors, and in the training of therapists and other professionals who work with people recovering from various forms of trauma.  These therapists have often studied the use of somatic and movement approaches to therapy in conjunction with verbal approaches.  Some have been concerned with neurological and physiological, as well as spiritual, aspects of healing.

Procedures that Comply with State Regulations when the enrolling student is studying at a distance:

1. A WISR faculty member will confer with each enrolling student to discuss the first steps and activities in their learning at WISR, whether the student is studying at a distance or not, within 7 days of the student’s date of enrollment. WISR does not “transmit lessons” to students—instead instruction centers on real time interaction between students and faculty, and often is supplemented by e-mail discussions.
2. For students learning at a distance and those residing locally, instruction centers on real time interaction between students and faculty—either face to face or by phone conference (the latter is used with local students from time to time as well as with students studying at a distance). Instruction is aided by e-mail and snail mail transmittal of student drafts of papers and faculty comments on papers.
3. As stated in WISR’s enrollment agreement, . A Full Refund may be obtained by withdrawing within 10 days of the beginning of an enrollment agreement, or at the student’s first meeting with a WISR faculty person to plan and begin their studies for their educational program, whichever is later. Since all students meet with a faculty member within 7 days, they will still have the 10 day period in which to cancel and receive a full refund.
Faculty feed-back to students learning at a distance follows the same principles of diligent reading of student drafts and papers and responding thoughtfully in a timely fashion. Faculty make every effort to give students rapid feedback on drafts of papers and theses. Typically, faculty give students feedback on papers that are 20 pages or less, within 7 to 10 days. Faculty may need as much as three to four weeks to read and give feedback on longer papers, and especially on drafts of theses and dissertations. Faculty are available to set up hour-long conferences with students, either face-to-face, or by phone once every week or two, as needed by students. Generally, it is best to set up appointments a week to 10 days in advance, so students can coordinate their own schedules of availability with the openings in the faculty member’s schedule.


WISR Policies on Distance Learning
Admissions Requirements and Teaching-Learning Process for those Living Outside the Bay Area (more . . .)