Although distance education has existed in various forms for over a century, it has evolved rapidly in recent years due to technological advancements. The earliest type of distance education came in the form of correspondence courses, which originated in the mid 19th century for purposes of religious instruction, the teaching of foreign languages, and the training of employees in the business world (Berg and Simonson, 2016). In the present day, online classes are the preferred method for distance learning, with students and teachers communicating over the Internet. Online classes have become an important part of higher education, and as of 2009, over 5.6 million students in the United States were taking a least one class online (Berg and Simonson, 2016).
The University of North Texas offers a variety of online courses as well as degrees which can be completed entirely online, allowing students to complete their education around their busy schedules and in many cases without relocating. However, distance learners also face unique challenges. If you are pursuing your degree online, you may be wondering what the UNT libraries can do for you. You may even have concerns, such as how to go about doing research for a class project when you live in a different city, or perhaps even a different state, and cannot visit the on-campus libraries in person.
The good news is that there’s nothing to worry about! The UNT libraries offer many services and resources which can help distance learning students access the information they need.
The most important piece of advice I can give to distance learning students is to sign up for an ILLiad account. ILLiad is a system used to request books and articles owned by the UNT Libraries or by other libraries through Interlibrary Loan. If you are a distance learning student creating an ILLiad account for the first time, be sure to choose “Dist Learner” as your status and “Dist Learning (Home)” as your delivery location.
Here are a few ways the UNT libraries can help distance learning students access the resources they need:
- Document Delivery: Even if you are not able to visit the UNT libraries in person, you can still borrow books from our collections. Distance learning students can have UNT library books mailed to their current address, as well as having journal articles or a book chapter sent to them electronically (“Distance Learning Requests”, n.d.).
- Interlibrary Loan: If the book or article you need is not in the UNT collection, you may be able to get it from a different library through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Although books borrowed through ILL must be picked up at one of the libraries on campus, copies of articles can be delivered electronically (“Distance Learning Requests”, n.d.). Public libraries also offer ILL. If you are a distance learning student and need a book that the UNT libraries do not have, you may be able to use your local public library’s Interlibrary Loan service.
- TexShare Cards: All UNT students are eligible to request a TexShare card. Many public and academic libraries in Texas participate in the TexShare program. With a TexShare card, you can borrow items from other participating libraries (“TexShare Cards,” n.d.). So, for example, if you live near another university, you may be granted access to their library resources with a TexShare card. Click here for more information about TexShare card.
- Course Reserves: Many professors put copies of the textbooks for their courses on reserve at one of the libraries on campus. Although these books are typically checked out for short periods of time and cannot be delivered to your home address, you can use ILLiad to request a digital copy of a book chapter; likewise, journal articles placed on reserve can also be delivered to you in digital form (“Distance Learning Requests.” n.d.).
- Electronic Access: Along with print collections, the UNT Libraries have many electronic resources, including e-books, e-journals, and databases, that may be accessed regardless of your location. Go to the UNT Libraries website to start your search. Choose a tab from the left panel to search online articles, databases, e-books, or e-journals.
If you have any questions about the UNT Libraries’ resources and services, please AskUs.
Are you pursuing a degree online? What library services or resources have you found to be the most useful? Feel free to leave a comment below.
Berg, G. A., & Simonson, M. (2016). Distance Learning. In Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/distance-learning
Distance learning requests. (n.d.). UNT University Libraries. Retrieved from https://library.unt.edu/services/distance-learning/
TexShare cards. (n.d.). UNT University Libraries. Retrieved from https://library.unt.edu/services/texshare-cards/