SDSU provides home-education options

Tanya Marsh

Tanya Marsh

Taking university classes from the comfort of home is no longer a dream; it’s reality. SDSU offers countless Internet courses and allows for long-distance learning through the Dakota Digital Network [DDN].

Josh Riedy, distance education coordinator, explained what DDN is.

“It’s an interactive telecommunications network that basically connects most of the public middle schools, high schools, and universities in the state,” he said.

Riedy said the DDN actually resembles a typical classroom.

“DDN is along the lines of a traditional classroom,” he said. “The only difference is you’re viewing the instructor through a monitor and they’re viewing you through a monitor.”

A wide range of classes is available through the network, according to telecommunications technologist Patrick Rueschenberg.

“The variety of classes pretty much runs the entire gamut from math, science, foreign language, education, counseling, and economics. Pretty much every college is represented or has been in the past, including nursing and pharmacy,” he said.

The state network means more opportunities for people from every area of South Dakota.

“The typical students that we have are usually college students from other institutions,” Rueschenberg said. “We share programs between some of the other universities–foreign language, for example.”

He said while many universities don’t have the means to supply degrees in French and German, networking with SDSU makes that possible.

“Some of the civil engineering shares faculty between SDSU and South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T),” he said.

Riedy said students can even earn most of the credits they need to earn an associate’s degree through the DDN.

College students aren’t the only ones that can benefit from the DDN. High school students can also take advantage of the system.

Rueschenberg said, “We also offer dual credit–high school credit and college credit–to some high schools.”

Those beyond college are not missing out, either.

“We offer a lot of classes that are geared for graduate students continuing their education,” he said.

Riedy said the network is even used for functions not related to education.

“We also use it for conferences, to cut down on travel,” he said. “A lot of offices in Pierre will host [over the DDN] so people don’t have to drive to Pierre. The National Guard is another example. They use the system from time to time.”

Riedy said SDSU students and faculty work hard to make quality DDN courses.

“We have students in a booth putting the course together,” he said, explaining that footage is edited to combine shots of the instructor, PowerPoints, and notes.

“That’s kind of our leg-up on the rest of the state,” Riedy said. “There’s no better university for distance education.”

Rueschenberg said the DDN is a great help to the state.

“People aren’t limited to taking classes by distance–somebody in Lemmon can take classes from SDSU,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest benefit, especially in such a sparsely populated state.”

He added, “We’re able to give people in rural parts of the state higher education because they may not be able to actually attend the campus because of their life, family, and job.”