Friday, January 04, 2008

Distance education history, in pictures

Editing the transcript from this summer's oral history interview with Mary McFarland, R.N., Ph.D., I came across a rare direct linkage between an oral history and the pictorial record maintained in the archives. Here, we reunite the spoken word with the image:

MCFARLAND: And again, around that time, I was always still, I was interested in technology, as I mentioned, well, with my doctorate and so forth. And at that time, the state of Oregon was beginning this two-way audio-video program. And so that meant that we were going to be able to deliver our program to places outside of Portland. And Carol [Lindeman] was always interested in doing this. So Carol and I went to Eugene and Corvallis and really down the valley. And I went on sabbatical ’91, ’92, I think. And when I went, the sidebar was, person that was going to be, people that were going to be doing my job, “And, by the way, we are working on this program for the valley.”

Well, a couple of things happened. The Oregon State Board of Higher Ed, Holly Zanville, who was the associate vice chancellor at that time, she had applied for a grant. And it was funded by Annenberg. And the grant had to do with delivering education via EdNet. And Wilma Peterson, actually, had introduced me. Because she was over in the provost’s office, acting provost, or whatever, and had mentioned to Holly that she thought I was a good person. And so Holly asked me if Nursing would be interested in doing this. And I said yes. And this was happening prior to and during my time on sabbatical. So our school of nursing did nursing. EOU had an agribusiness program. And they were doing the student affairs portion, because they want to do something to help students who were doing, who were doing distance learning.

And then Corvallis, OSU, there was a professor there who had actually been teaching not two-way, but one-way distance education. He was art history. And he had been teaching, delivering to Bend COCC. So we got the grant. I wrote part of the grant. And we got quite a bit of money. And it was to help faculty transpose their courses from teaching just on campus to distance ed, and developing syllabi that were interactive, and so forth. And so we got money, as you know, you were department chair at the time, and your department taught some of these classes. And so each department got money that taught the classes to give to faculty to develop. And so that was a big push for the RN/BS.

So what was interesting is, when I left on sabbatical, we were just getting the Annenberg grant. And I said, well, you know, we’ve got this distance education program. By the time I came back, we had ninety-eight students and counting. And I came back and I said, “No more. We cannot take anymore.” So then we developed the program and delivered it to the different sites. And that was part of my job. So just this little local RN/BS in Portland program for the folks here who were angry with us, became a huge program.

And so I administered that with the help of unbelievably capable people. Cretia Benolken, who was the student advisor and taught some classes, had been a director of nursing in Dallas, Oregon, and then, well, we had Donna Jensen working here. Not the professor Donna Jensen but our staff person.

GAINES: Donna Addison.

MCFARLAND: Yeah. And then Maryanne Talbot. And these people were wonderful. Because I could not have done it by myself. It was just Kim and I doing the undergraduate program.

GAINES: That would be Kim Derienzo.

MCFARLAND: Kim Derienzo, who was the program director. And she had started with me when I started, when she would type my letters from my handwriting, and that’s not easy. So we went from that to the point where computers really relieved her of all this, you know, busywork. And she was wonderful. So she helped me develop the program. So she worked with me and Maryanne, and then with the undergraduate program. I don’t know how we did all that work, but we did. And so that’s how the—and then the distance ed program, and then the Hatfield Center, they had a site. And so we delivered the program to the coast.

And it was kind of interesting, because I first saw an ability to do two-way audio-video when Jim– oh, he worked here, what’s his last name? Anyway, he said, “Mary, I want you to see something.” So we went over and they were transmitting an X-ray with audio-video kind of technology. And it was horrible. I mean, it was snowy and not really good. And then from there, we, I think I gave you a picture for the archives, of the first time we delivered something audio-video to La Grande, with Marcia Shoup over there and me here. And it was the first transmission. It was really kind of exciting to think that that was historical. And that wasn’t that long ago. I think that was in the late ‘80s. No, maybe the early ‘90s.

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