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Doc@Distance; First-of-its kind joint program taps six for new cohort

Doc@Distance; First-of-its kind joint program taps six for new cohort

From a distance, it’s possible. It’s a motto taken to heart by the leaders of Texas Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communications. Today (Aug. 27) they announced that a sixth cohort of six doctoral students have been admitted to its rather rare and innovative ‘Doc@Distance’ program.

A joint effort between the Texas Tech department and Texas A&M University, the 64-credit-hour program launched in 2000 with the induction of 20 mid-career professionals from across Texas. It employs a variety of delivery methods with the primary tools being Blackboard, a virtual learning environment used to access course material, and Interactive Video Conferencing.

In addition to courses, the cohort works together on a regular basis in face-to-face meetings on campus or in profession-related locations. Since its inception more than 60 students have been admitted to the program, of which, 36 have finished.

“For the first two years, students in a cohort go through all their classes together, so at a distance, they in essence have friends they can study together with,” said David Doerfert, a professor of agricultural communications and graduate studies coordinator in Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communication.

After the student’s second year, students begin taking their electives, conducting their dissertation research, and break off to begin the process of becoming an independent scholar. To date the program has involved participants from 16 states and Canada.

Now, program leaders are seeing growing international interest. “We’re beginning to talk about how to take Doc@Distance to the next level. In essence, what is Doc@Distance 2.0? We hope to have something to move forward into a global program within the next year or so,” Doerfert said. The next class or cohort is scheduled for January 2015.

Written by Faith Jurek

CONTACT: Steven Fraze, Chair, Department of Agricultural Education and Communications, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2816 or

0828NM13 / CAPTION: Front row: Megan Capeheart (Texas), Amber Anderson (Texas) Back Row: Vanessa Kelsey (Texas), Matthew Miranda (Texas), Anna Bates (California), Sharon Freeman (California)


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