Tips For Success For Adult Learners In Online Classes

Conditionally Accepted

H. E. JamesHattie E. James is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho, who has traveled throughout Europe and has spent countless hours in the car traveling around the United States. She has a varied background, including education and history, as well as journalism. Hattie enjoys sharing her passions through the written word. She is currently spending many sleepless nights seeking her graduate degree, but she always sets aside time to enjoy a good cider.

This Old Dog, Her New Trick

The older we get, the more difficult it becomes for us to learn new things. This isn’t to say that we can’t learn new things. What happens is that many of us fear learning something different — we’re like Garth in Wayne’s World. We fear change.

When I decided to go back to grad school, the only thing of which I was afraid was taking classes online. Granted, I am…

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A Question from my Philosophy Class: Science and Religion

I’m really enjoying my Philosophy class – and I was right in thinking that I would absolutely fall in love with the subject matter if I ever took the class. This week we had a discussion topic regarding the involvement of religion in science. I wanted to share the prompt and my response. I would love to hear what you, think as well to this prompt.

Religion and Science: Galileo believed that civil and religious authorities should not interfere with scientific research.  This controversy was a problem in the past, and it still is.  Ethics and science sometimes do collide in the everyday world.  For example, should there be laws against stem-cell research?  Should scientists clone sheep?  Should genetic and medical tests be performed on live animals?  When, if at all, do you think that scientific research should be limited by federal, state, and local laws?

This was a discussion I was having with a friend of mine just yesterday, after I told him about last week’s discussion questions, which lead to the idea of science being taught in schools, or being prominent at all. The nature the discussion between us turned to whether or not religion created morals. I believe that if a person can develop any understanding outside of themselves, then they can of course have morals that aren’t guided by religion. After all, I grew up in a non-religious household, but I still know that it’s wrong to kill, wrong to steal, wrong to betray and so on. However, he brought up the point of China, who has kept religion out of science entirely and as a result are going on to cloning living being and the like (this was all discussion, I haven’t actually fact-checked any of this).

It caused me to consider this standpoint, that while neither of us are religious, we were arguing too opposite points of its role in education and science. If he is in fact correct, he does have a point. Though, that being said, I can’t say that many of our scientists are doing well on the moral compass as many of them are funded by either the military (and thus creating better weapons or other things regarding warfare) or by large corporations such as Monsanto, who require genetic modifications to plants which become resistant to herb and pesticides that don’t carry the Monsanto logo (for example). On an entertainment note, there is a fantastic episode of Better Off Ted which examines the morality of corporation-backed science when two of the scientists on the show realize that everything they’ve created for the company has been put towards evil (though portrayed in a light-hearted and comical way).

I don’t know how it can happen, but ultimately, I don’t believe science should be allowed to be backed by businesses that stand to profit from either outcome. A huge example would be the tobacco industries, back in the day, throwing heaps of money at scientists to prove that cigarettes weren’t harmful. Another example would be all the studies done over the last half a century proving that cannabis in any form is harmful and toxic so that it doesn’t replace the fossil fuel, pulp, rubber, and pharmaceutical industries, which also fuel our politicians.

This is bigger than the government regulating science, since it goes into the issues of how the politicians in the government are funded, and thus, where their loyalties lie as a result of those funding. For example, the Bushes, who have their hands deeply in oil, might regulate against the study of cannabis, or any other substance which might influence the ability to sell or replace oil, because it reduces their profitability – regardless of the huge environmental influence they are causing as a result.

Because a politician can be corrupted by the money that got them to their position, unless we can assure that the politician was funded solely on donation of the public and not corporations, we cannot be sure that their regulations of scientific studies or advancements are pure-of-intention, and thus, in this day and age, we cannot trust the government to set moral-based laws.

Circling back to religion, this isn’t one hundred percent pure-of-intention either. This isn’t to say that there is ill-wishing of any church, however, because of all the disagreements between the religious sects, there can’t be one set rule of morality for science to be guided by. For example, (I don’t believe) Catholicism hasn’t accepted same-sex marriage (to my knowledge), though there are some individual Catholic churches which do support it. There are different secs which 100% accept it, and some that believe that it is an instant damnation. Another example is the transfusion of blood in emergent situations. Some religious practices believe that to do so is to meddle with God’s will, while others see it as an advancement in science which has allowed us to keep living.

Within religion, there are disagreements as to what constitutes morality. Unless religion can agree on a basic set of morals that can be applicable across any board, science isn’t able to use religion as a basis of right and wrong.

So then what is the solution? As our society is built currently, that is, here in the US, we cannot go by any set of moral rules simply because there are too many variables. Our political system would have to alter drastically, and the power of money would have to be less of a god than the God of religions is. Until that happens, I think science needs to be left to do what it will, but with basic human empathy – the ability to put the scientist in the place of those that their studies and experiments would effect. The ability to empathize would act as the scientific moral compass.

Online Classes and Check Lists: How to Keep from Going Insane

Today is my fourth (school) day of summer quarter. Because I want to continue working in the Writing Center as much as I can, I decided to opt for all online classes this quarter. I can already tell you that was a bad idea.

Or at least, that’s what I’ve been thinking since the 4th of July. The quarter started on the 1st, which was a Wednesday. Because it is summer quarter, the school closes on Fridays. So I only had two days of school. Already, on Sunday, I had five discussions due (I’ll get into this later), an essay and a quiz due.

I’ll break it down as to how this works.

This isn’t my first time doing online classes. Those of you that are die-hard readers of mine might remember that during fall quarter I opted for an online Math 99 class. I really regretted it, though did find that I had a lot of online support from the other students. The mandatory forums were extremely helpful, and students were always willing to help each other out. That aspect, I really enjoyed.

This quarter, this very short quarter, I am taking Intro to World Literature (with the same professor I took Intro to British Literature with), Intro to Philosophy, and Nutrition. Since I’ve already done some extensive studying in the field of Nutrition, I’m not to worried about the class, and so far it has proven to be the least stressful.

Each class requires an online presence which counts towards your “attendance”, essentially. Our teachers pose questions which we have to write a 150-300 word minimum response to, and we have to have at least two responses to other students as well. My World Lit teacher was very kind and put all of our readings online – which is great if you don’t mind reading off a screen. I’m struggling to adjust to it, but certainly, it has been great for my suffering wallet. My philosophy teacher had us buy a couple books, but also has readings online as well as Powerpoint presentations for us to download and view as a “lecture”.

This week alone, my World Lit teacher assigned us:

  •  the reading of 16 poems by Sappho
  • Ovid’s Narcissus and Echo, The House of Cadmus (which I quite enjoyed)
  • 116 poems by Catullus
  • Poems by Li Bu and Du Fu (I haven’t even looked at these yet)
  • Plato’s Apology
  • Five different discussions involving the 150-300 word response to her questions, plus responses to other students.

My nutrition class:

  • Finishing the last 100 pages of Mindless Eating (I had to read the first half in the first two days of last week)
  • Reading a 30 page chapter of our very large text book with microscopic font
  • Writing about a food experiment,
  • Writing a response to the readings

My philosophy class:

  • Two power points
  • 15 pages of what would be a student hand out (but they’re documents on the computer)
  • A couple chapters out of our text book
  • A discussion
  • A page of questions we have to answer (at least a paragraph each)
  • A test

This is a lot  of stuff to get done this week. I decided on this in part because last quarter the actual going to class got in the way of me getting my classwork done! Of course this makes sense – all this is reading and time that should be spent in class in order to earn the five credits. It completely makes sense.

So, how on earth do I deal with all of this?

I got myself a planner (ok, I already had a planner, but I’m putting it to use now). I went through all the syllabuses, the calendars posted by teachers and so on, and wrote down every date that things were do, every reading that was expected of us and so on, and which week we were meant to focus on them all. I divvied them up between the week days on my calendar and am sticking to the timeline. I do the discussion as soon as I read whatever it is I’m meant to be reading so I don’t have ten things to do on Friday and five things to do on Sunday, and I take the list one thing at a time. I color-code too. Each class equals a certain high-lighter color, (English is blue, Nutrition is green, Philosophy is pink), and due dates of certain things get a color, and then are boxed in the class that they correspond to (essay due dates are purple, test dates are yellow, and everything else due dates are orange). For example, when my reading response for my nutrition class is due, I highlight it in orange, and outline the orange in green, so I know it’s something for Nutrition due.

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This kind of sounds intense, but I’m visual when it comes to organization, and this way I can see what needs the most of my attention at a glance.

Then, when an item is completed – I get to check it off. That is such a reward. I really enjoy checking things off my list.

So far, it’s working. I haven’t missed anything (despite not knowing of a lot of assignments until a couple hours before they were do, working both Saturday and Sunday, having Saturday be the 4th of July, and a friend moving out of town on Sunday as well), and I have 100% in all my classes. It’s still early days yet, as I mentioned. But if I can keep this system up, not get burnt out or distracted, I should be fine. After all, I only have to keep this up for six more weeks!