First Week of Online ClassesI have now officially been in my full-time online degree program for one week! I have 3 classes running - the fourth starts up in a few weeks. Here are my thoughts so far.
I knew I would love the English class. I love writing. It's a "how to write smoothly" class, not a "research The Scarlet Letter" type of class. So it's about a topic I love. The first few days were very busy as everyone posted their intros in the forums, responded to everyone else's intros, and I read the 2 chapters of the book and the supplemental instructor material.
Our assignment for the week was to write a 5 paragraph narrative. I wrote about a trip I took to Ukraine. This was to be just a "draft" for people to comment on, but I love writing so I tweaked and tweaked it all week. So that took time, but it was fun time for me, not "work time".
In my Organizational Behavior class, in essence the week's assignment was all about forum postings. So I read the chapters in the book, read the associated instructor notes, and then began posting. There were tons of threads in the Intro area as everyone described their work situations. The main question, about whether a company should focus on profits or ethics, was easy for me. I run BellaOnline as a charity site and we "sacrifice" a ton of profits to do this. So that was a fun topic to discuss. Since the whole of my mandate for the week was to post, post, and post some more, this was great fun.
My Organizational Communication class also involved a lot of posting. We had two questions in the forums. One was to talk about our largest company we've worked at and what they did well. The second was to choose from a list of communication issues and to discuss one that was affecting us. For the second, I chose the "deluges of email" issue, because it's something that I deal with daily. It was fascinating to hear from other students, their ideas for solutions, and the issues they were facing. So the forum discussions - including the many introductions - was quite fun.
In addition we did have some "submit content" assignments. They were fairly straightforward. Submit a little survey describing where you work in your working career. Answer a series of questions about what was important to you in terms of communication. Read a series of situations, like "your colleague at the company you just joined talks about how they take advantage of management" - and talk about what you'd do. So they were all fun, interesting things to write about.
In each case I worked on the assignment during the week and submitted it *early* on the day it was due. So for example my English paper was due today, Sunday. I didn't submit it before today because I was still tweaking it as I went. But today I submitted it mid-afternoon. That way I didn't wait until the last minute and risk disaster. I am calm and comfortable knowing it is in and all set.
A block of time this week was spent learning how to use the discussion boards, how to use the "submit an assignment" area, how to use the email interface and so on. Another block of time was spent in the high-volume flurry of everyone saying hello, responding to everybody else's introductory posts, and so on. So I think all of that time was a one-time-only thing that is now set for the 12 weeks. The remaining time really wasn't that bad. Read a chapter or two - I read quickly so that is easy. Read the instructor's notes. Again, fairly easy. Make some forum posts. I love posting in forums so to me that's great fun. The writing was also enjoyable.
I am feeling comfortable that this pace will integrate easily with my current work and personal obligations. We'll see how week 2 goes, when it is solely about "maintenance" work and all the intro material is set!
Let me know if you have any questions!
(someone asked about how assignments were handled)
Each class has a posted syllabus which lists all the stages of the class week by week. So that's an overview.
In addition, every single week there's a full set of pages about that week. It lists exactly what chapters to read, links to the related PDFs with lecture notes, describes exactly what you have to do in the forums, and then there are multiple pages about the week's assignments. So there is a lot of detail in there about exactly what to do every week. They even list the due dates in exact hour and minute format.
I do have to say though that despite this wealth of excruciating detail, some students are still not getting it right. In my English class she was very clear about the format of submissions - double spaced, indented paragraphs, first page has title information (laid out in detail) etc. The majority of submissions of that paper, which are posted in the forum so we can all review each others' drafts, were NOT in her required format. They were just blobs of text. I was surprised that so many students did not even make the time to follow her instructions. It was a little disconcerting.
Weekly Checklist for Online Classes
Weeks 2 and 3 of Online Classes
Work from Home Main Page