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How the Master of International Affairs program uses synchronous distance learning

Synchronous distance learning occurs when the instructor and students interact in different places but during the same time period through video and web conferencing software. We use the Zoom web conferencing platform, which is similar to what students may have experienced using Skype or FaceTime.

International Affairs courses are taught by members of Rockefeller College's International Affairs faculty on the University at Albany campus and are accessible via synchronous distance learning tools to students in other locations, for example, students who may be taking courses while interning for a semester in Washington. Faculty based in New York City (or elsewhere) may also teach an International Affairs course that will be accessible to students in Albany via Zoom.

Since web conferencing tools also permit additional people from more than two locations to join a class session, students may join classes from other locations, whether for the whole semester or just for individual class sessions. With the instructor’s approval, students can make arrangements to join a particular class session via Zoom instead of attending in person. Similarly, the web conference platform enables guest speakers to join classes remotely even if they cannot come in person. Given that core courses will not necessarily be taught in person by instructors in Albany, students must be prepared to take at least a few of their courses via synchronous distance learning.

Students aspiring to professional international affairs careers will benefit from learning to effectively interact electronically from remote locations as well as in person because international organizations, foreign ministries, NGOs and other organizations increasingly use video and web conferencing tools for meetings, conferences and working groups. Students should be able to express themselves and communicate in a range of formats and modes from email exchanges and informal dialogues with co-workers to formal written reports and oral presentations, whether given in-person, on conference calls or through videoconferences.