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Distance Learning (page 2)

Admissions Requirements and Teaching-Learning Process

Like all students admitted to WISR, applicants from outside the Bay Area discuss WISR’s program and their own goals, interests, and backgrounds with a core faculty member.  The application process involves extended telephone conversations, letters of recommendation, and the applicant’s written statement about her or his interests, plans, and the kinds of learning and community action in which s/he has been involved. The application process will also assess whether or not the prospective distance student has the skills and resources to be successful in their intended WISR degree program.

Students living outside the Bay Area are expected to maintain regular phone contact with WISR faculty, and to visit WISR periodically, at least once per year.  Each student constructs an individualized program of study with WISR faculty help, in conjunction with pursuing the courses required for the degree program in which  they are enrolled..  Frequent (usually biweekly) telephone conversations and exchanges of e-mails and drafts of papers with WISR faculty are used to communicate about the student’s learning goals, coursework in progress, readings, job-related work of current interest, and other topics related to the student’s learning.  This regular feedback helps to give students support, stimulation, constructive criticism, and intellectual foci for their professional and academic activities. All students must provide rough drafts of papers to WISR faculty, so that they can receive specific suggestions for refining their ideas and improving their writing skills.  Regular telephone conversations are used to discuss students’ difficulties and frustrations, brainstorm about possible work/learning projects, and maintain student-faculty contact.  The students use periodic face-to-face meetings–at least annually, but usually more frequently–with faculty and other students at WISR, and with other resource people from the Bay Area, to enrich and fill out their involvement in WISR learning activities.

Students Can Participate in Seminars by Tele-Conference from a Distance

All WISR seminars, except for some of the seminars on film and social change, are available both by telephone conference call, and also in real time, online by video conference.  Sometimes, these seminars  are supplemented by web-based online sharing of documents and notes in real-time. Specifically, students who live too far from our Berkeley site to travel here twice per month may call into a phone conference line that will be connected with a speaker phone in our seminar room. Students and faculty on site at WISR and those students on their phone line, off site, will be able to interact and discuss issues, ideas and questions with one another. In the very near future we will make use of video conference technology as well. Students living outside the area are required to attend some seminars on site two or more times per year, in order to further develop their collegial relationships with faculty and fellow students.

Foreign Students—No ESL Instruction, no I-20 status available, but assistance in obtaining permission to visit:

WISR does admit students from other countries.  However, WISR does not provide English as a Second Language, or English as a Foreign Language, instruction.  All instruction, and all recruitment of students, is conducted in English.  Some students who are not native English speakers, but who are fluent in English, have enrolled and successfully completed programs at WISR.  WISR’s admissions process helps all prospective students to assess their skills, learning needs and interests, and aids the faculty and the prospective student in determining whether or not WISR can meet his or her educational needs.  Enrollment at WISR does not provide foreign students with I-20 status (i.e., WISR students do not qualify for foreign student visas.).  However, WISR has and will vouch for a student’s enrollment status and verify that WISR requires all students studying from a distance to visit WISR for a few days every year or so.  By so vouching and verifying, WISR is usually able to assist foreign students in obtaining permission to visit the United States for a brief period, for this purpose.