A break in your routine can be nearly the same as a vacation. For me, to have a few days or a few weeks off without having to worry about schoolwork is a much needed and welcome break. Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy school. I love learning and stretching my mental abilities. It’s just that sometimes the day-to-day tedium of online learning can get to me.
To be successful with an online degree program, you have to be very committed to working hard, staying organized and managing your time. You have to stay focused and commit yourself to participating, posting and doing the work on a daily basis. You can’t walk away from it. If you take too much time away from online classes, you can easily get out of the habit of the daily routine, and before you know it, you are so far behind you can’t get caught up again.
Most online learning programs are very intense. Classes take place in a shortened amount of time, and the material covered is vast. Bryant & Stratton features 7-1/2 week online courses. Each week includes an online lecture, a discussion, and a couple of different assignments – usually some sort of research project, maybe an essay and in the web design classes there is usually a design assignment using one of the Adobe Creative Suite programs. For the discussion you need to post early in the week, and then you have to respond substantively to three other classmates’ posts. The students really should be posting and replying every day (sometimes to multiple posts). There are also textbook readings – my last class featured readings that were 3 chapters long each week (each chapter was 30-some pages long). There are also supplemental readings that need to be read. Each week ends with a written reflection and there are also mid-term exams, final exams, and a final portfolio project that is quite complicated. The portfolio project usually summarizes what was learned in the entire course. My son was pursuing a degree on-campus at a local community college when I started my online degree, and he was amazed at how much work I had to do (a lot more than he had).
One of my pet peeves of the online learning process is the discussion. I don’t mind posting and responding. What I do mind is students who don’t read the instructions or don’t read fellow students’ posts. They don’t answer the question that is asked, or they ask the same question that someone else has already asked, and the instructor has already responded to. I also have a real problem with the students that won’t use the other person’s name when they respond. At times it’s almost impossible to tell who they are talking to without going back into a nested view and then follow a “tree” structure to see where the post originated. And, as many times as the students are told NOT to speak in text lingo (“LOL”, “OMG”), they do it anyway. They also are told NOT to just say, “great post” (or some other useless comment), but they do that, too. The teacher is usually looking for an educated discussion or debate of the facts.
My most recent class was Ecology. I think of all the classes I have taken to-date, that class was probably my least favorite. Don’t get me wrong – I love nature, and I love animals. I decided going into this class that I would keep an open mind, and I would listen to both sides of the issues. Unfortunately, the issues presented were not always presented impartially. The textbook didn’t help – it was deadly dull. This is the first class in my three years of college classes that I stopped doing the textbook reading. I gave up on it halfway through the course. I read the summaries at the end of the chapters and figured I got enough information in the weekly lectures and other readings and research to get by. I was correct in that assumption. I got a 97.75% for a final grade. I had a hard time with some of the more extremist views that were presented. For example, one of the ideas that was discussed was ecofeminism. Ecofeminism links feminism with ecology. “Ecofeminism connects the exploitation and domination of women with that of the environment, and argues that there is a connection between women and nature that comes from their shared history of oppression by a patriarchal Western society” (Wikipedia.org). It is a good thing I now have a month off. The Ecology class just left a bad taste in my mouth.
During the next three weeks I will focus on rest, relaxation and family. My reading will be for pleasure and not for learning purposes. Happy Summer, everyone.