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Ruth Gardner Begell
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Richard Slavich

 

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A Butte College instructor is helping to introduce the world of the Internet into
the halls of the North State's universities and colleges.

Butte Community College instructor Richard Slavich (B.S., Agriculture, '71; M.A., Education, '76) became involved with the Internet as a result of his interest in distance learning. After teaching courses in agriculture and natural resources, Slavich had the opportunity in 1991 to take a sabbatical in Australia. There he became impressed with the fact that distance education was a necessity for Australian students, who often had to travel weeks just to get to a campus from outlying locations.

"They did most of their education by audiocassette," says Slavich. They mailed in their course work and then came to the campus for brief periods of time.

Most Australian homes had VCRs, so Slavich hit upon the idea of putting lectures on videotape in order to reach the students more effectively.

Since then, Slavich has produced 240 educational videos, has developed
nine Internet courses for the college, and currently holds six video classes on Butte College's cable television network. He has 4,000 Web pages up and running.

In 1992, Slavich went to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he received his doctorate of education, with an emphasis in distance education. He still teaches general education in the sciences, including environmental science. He has taught students from all over the United States since he began in distance education.

Slavich emphasizes choice and freedom as two major components of distance education. "You can choose when, how much, and how often you can take your education," he says. Internet courses offer the prospect of even wider audience access to education.

Last summer, Slavich traveled to Zimbabwe to establish an e-mail system so students in that country could start taking classes at Butte College through an Internet exchange program. But the University of Zimbabwe didn't back the project politically. "It fell apart at the last minute," notes Slavich.

What's in the future for Slavich? Besides offering classes on CD-ROM, he is developing his courses for delivery on DVD.

He can be reached via e-mail at rslavich@cin.butte.cc.ca.us.

     
   



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