Marci Cohen enjoyed some of the best the UI campus has to offer — without actually physically being there.
Hers was a virtual experience: As a long-distance learner who earned her master of science in library and information science in 2000, “I spent little time on campus, but I would meet up with my professors and classmates from across the globe almost weekly in our class chat rooms, listening to the instructors’ live audio streams and forging relationships,” says the assistant head of the music library at Boston University.
Because what was then known as the Graduate School of Library and Information Science “was a pioneer in online education,” Cohen says, “they initially had to build their own platform to facilitate classes. Starting my studies in 1998, I was in just the third year of the program.
“The professors’ slides were usually simple HTML pages because PowerPoint took too long to load. I was still using a dial-up internet connection until my final semester, when high-speed access finally came to my neighborhood.
“The students would use the chat room whisper function for private conversations both pedagogical and extracurricular. Jill Gengler, now the iSchool’s director of alumni affairs, was a steady presence providing live technical support from an office on campus, regardless of whether the instructors were a few feet away from her or phoning in from halfway across the country.”