September 26, 2014

BY TERI CAMPBELL
Logan Media Services

CARTERVILLE - Last month the Fest for Beatles Fans brought nearly 5,000 enthusiasts of the Fab Four from around the globe to Chicago for a weekend of all things Beatles.  Three of those fans were also there to meet each other after becoming acquainted through an online class at John A. Logan College.  

Terry Crain, dean for student services at JALC, who is an avid admirer of The Beatles and has experience in online learning, taught the class called “The Beatles” last spring through Logan’s Continuing Education Department.

“I’ve attended the Fest for Beatles Fans in Chicago for the past 15 years, and I love it,” Crain said.  “I thought the students in my class might be interested in it so I brought it up as a topic for discussion.  We started talking about it, and it turned out that two of the students decided to go to the fest in Chicago this year as well.”  

The two students who made the trek to Chicago are Brian Garavalia and David Bedford, both Beatles fans for many years.  Garavalia is a health outcomes researcher/consultant and lives in Kansas City, Mo.  Bedford is a Beatles historian and author who lives in Liverpool, England. 

“This was my first time at the fest and I thoroughly enjoyed it,” Garavalia said.  “It was more Beatles everything than I could have possibly imagined.  Meeting Terry and David was so fantastic because I had emailed with them for months on a very regular basis and had never met them in person, and finally in August there we were at the fest.  It was a great time.”    

Bedford has attended the Fest for Beatles Fans in New York and Chicago before and he also enjoyed the meeting.

“Terry actually uses one of my books as a source for his class,” Bedford said.  “It was nice to catch up with him and to finally meet Brian after many months of corresponding by email.  We all share in common a love of The Beatles and their music and we talked for hours.” 

Crain thinks the trio’s meeting in Chicago is an example of how far-reaching online classes can be. 

“We did some heavy marketing for the class through social media and the Internet,” Crain said.  “We publicized it on places like Facebook and other social networking sites where people with similar interests get together, and I ended up with 35 students in the class from seven states and four countries.”  

“It was taught as a public service course so there were no grades, tests, or quizzes,” he continued.  “We also used a new delivery method where the lessons were sent to the students via email so they could study them using their smartphones, tablets, personal devices, or computers.” 

Garavalia said he learned of the class when he was looking online to see what types of Beatles courses existed. 

“I’m in the process of writing a book on The Beatles and want to learn as much about the band as I can,” Garavalia said.  “When I found this class was being offered by John A. Logan, I decided to take it.  I’m from Herrin originally and am a Logan alum with two associate degrees from the college.”

Although the course was taught online with students physically located miles apart, Garavalia said there was a lot on interaction.    

“The course is a good time for Beatles fans regardless of knowledge level,” he said.  “Everyone can have a voice and share with other classmates.  The point is to learn something new.  Terry shared general information and fun facts about the band as did the other class members.  Everyone’s participation was the key.  Getting other’s perspectives on The Beatles is equally valuable and important.” 

Bedford concurred about the class interaction.

“It was a lot of fun and I met some nice people online,” Bedford said.  “The class is a great way to talk about The Beatles with other fans and with no pressure.  We all enjoyed discussing our favorite band and the impact the music has had on our lives.”  

Crain believes the explosion in social media will make courses like his more popular.

“Social media is the way so many people communicate these days,” he said.  “Since the course content is sent to students through email, it can be accessed by anyone in almost any location.  The students can learn at their own pace and have fun doing it by interacting virtually with the other students.  And sometimes they’ll get lucky like Brian, David, and I did and end up with the opportunity to meet face-to-face.”