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.

IMG_2314IMG_2312 IMG_2313

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!


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