Patrick Henry College
Ask Dr. Robert Spinney what he has enjoyed most from his last four years teaching history for Patrick Henry College students, and his response is quick.
“The intense, personal interaction,” he says, adding, “That’s what makes it worthwhile. That’s what makes it good learning.”
And yet, when Spinney steps on campus this fall as the new Director of Distance Learning (DL), he will be meeting many of those students in person for the first time. He had taught from his home in the Nashville-area of Tennessee, and they were among the sizeable body of students who began their undergraduate education via PHC’s Campus & Home program. As part of the College’s Distance Learning track, Campus & Home allows students to complete a large percentage of their undergraduate core courses over the Internet at a much lower per-credit cost.
In his new position providing academic oversight of the entire DL program, Dr. Spinney, who will also serve as Assistant Professor of History, intends to help participating PHC professors transition into the Internet environment, and to ensure that the DL classes mirror, in content, scope, and quality, material being taught on-campus.
“When most schools add distance learning, nobody wants to teach it,” he explains. “It’s a steep learning curve. PHC is one of the rare colleges that recognize the value of the DL option and does it right. Now the College wants to invest more time, more money, and more personnel to make this a truly top-notch program.”
Catering to an increasingly tech-savvy youth culture, distance learning holds great potential for students who want to earn credits toward their college major while still living at home. At PHC, DL students can interact through a variety of means, including message boards, email, and real-time chats. To assist Dr. Spinney in expanding the DL program, PHC has hired Daniel Burns, a recent PHC graduate, as an admission counselor for distance learning. Burns will advise DL students on curriculum and requirements.
Adds Spinney: “Most people my age think of correspondence courses, cheap packets of material you mail back and forth to an anonymous instructor. In reality, my distance learning students from PHC get a far better course than those I taught in person at Vanderbilt. This is because they can get hold of me any time. I have one-on-one interaction with every student.”
At Patrick Henry College, students can enroll in courses for dual college and high-school credit during their 11th and 12th grade years, or they can apply for undergraduate admission into the Campus & Home program. Fall enrollment is now closed, but applications for the spring semester will be accepted beginning in September. Call (540) 338-8760 with any questions, or visit http://www.phc.edu/distance.php.