Weeks 2 and 3 of Online ClassesI have now finished my first three weeks of classes at my online university. I have gotten past the initial panic of "how do I use the forum! How do I find the assignments! Am I going to miss an assignment somehow!" and have settled into a routine.
First, I have my "monthly" calendar all filled out with the main tasks for each class, for the entire month. That sits by my desk and keeps me from missing anything major.
At the beginning of each week I print out a "weekly form" that is just for that week. In it, for each of my three classes, I write in the reading assignments, lecture assignments, forum post assignments, and any written assignments. That way I can check off each item as I do it and make sure nothing has been missed.
For my English class, each week requires a 5 paragraph write-up. One week is a draft, the next week is a final. Then the week after that we do a new draft, and so on. Our forum posts alternate as well. One week we help each other with our drafts, and the next week we talk about specific topics the instructor posts about. The forum discussion is active and fun. The week that it's about "topics" (like "do you use voice mail") we have lively discussions. During the weeks where it's feedback the discussion is more muted because we are simply giving feedback on each other's material. I *love* to write so I am enjoying this class immensely. This *could* be a very low time class, that you write your five paragraphs and are done with it. However as I really enjoy the assignments I tend to tweak, and tweak, and tweak, for hours and hours. So I am spending far more time on this class than I imagine most people do. It's something that brings me joy so I don't mind. Plus I am planning on submitting my resulting little short stories to Mused :)
The Communications class has instructor-started questions for us to all talk about, and they are a lot of fun. They get into nitty gritty issues about ethics and communication, which is the sort of thing I love discussing. Plus we have two papers due each week. I was submitting papers in the 8-10 page range and thought it was normal, but we were just told at this last assignment that the average paper length had been 3.2 pages until now and that the maximum was now going to be 5 pages with a penalty of 1 point per page for people who went over. Yikes!! I had even asked him early on what the page range should be, in case I was submitting too many pages. I guess I know now to stay within 5 pages. Still, it is very surprising to me that college students would submit only 1 or 2 page papers for a college class. That seems very short to me.
The Behavior class also has instructor-started questions for us to talk about and that is the entirety of the class so far. We all only talk in the forum. I find the material fascinating and enjoy the forum discussions, so that is fine. You could say that the lack of anything else "to do" makes this the easiest class of the trio, which is interesting because this is the "higher level" class of the three that normally requires a prerequisite. For my Leadership degree it was on the "recommended course map" as one of the courses to take in the very first quarter, so I signed up for it and then panicked when I saw it had a prerequisite (which made no sense to me given its position on the map). I wonder what the disconnect was there. In any case they checked and said it was fine for me to take the course, and I'm enjoying it a lot.
I feel very comfortable now with how the forums work, how to communicate with the teachers (I've emailed each one several times about various issues), and how to submit assignments and see grades. I feel comfortable with my time management system and knowing when I have things due. I read each book's chapters on Monday or Tuesday, get all my preliminary forum posts in by Tuesday night, and work on any essays that are due throughout the week. That way I can go back and read and re-read them as the days pass and tweak them. I wait until the "due date" to submit my essays, to give me maximum tweaking time, but I submit early in that day in case of disaster. If the cable goes out I want to be able to run with my laptop to a nearby McDonalds and submit with their wifi.
Week 4 of Online Classes
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