Reflections of Online Classes During Summer Quarter

Finally, I’m done with the quarter, I think. It involved creating a 15 page document in which I posed as a potential chef for a restuarant and compiled a meal plan for four with all local ingredients for under $35 (including an entry, a starch side, a vegetable side, a salad, a dessert and beverages), as well as outlined all the nutritional information of each ingredient per serving; a 36 page report on my experimental mentorship course last quarter; and a paper on Jorges Borges for my World Literature class (though that was the easy part). 

To be fair, today is Thursday and I finished it all on Sunday. I have my grades for everything except fo the mentorship course, which is about what I expected due to the odd nature of the learning contract for that class. I am happy to say that I returned to my usual 4.0 status (which hasn’t been the case for the last two very stressful quarters), bringing my over all GPA to a 3.94–up from the 3.90 it was last quarter. 

As a reminder, for this year’s summer quarter, I opted for all my classes to be online. I wanted to be able to work as much as I could in teh Writing Center, which I did. At first it was a struggle, trying to keep on top of things. But after the first week and a half realizing that my usual system of waiting to be told what to do before doing it wasn’t working, I sat down, made a schedule for each class based on the modules listed on Canvas, and listed and highlighted everything in my calendar, day by day. 

This worked out quite well. It meant that on Friday, when all my discussions for each class was due, I wasn’t freaking out becuase I had yet to read the 120 poems and two short stories for my literature class (that did happen on week), the chapter and three essays for my philosophy class, and the excruciatingly long chapter in my nutrition text book, as well as whatever it was that Michael Pollen had to say in his book, In Defense of Food

That is the biggest key I have to say in taking online classes: make a schedule and stick to it. It makes life so much easier. I can also say this is applicabble to in-class classes, however, there’s generally (not always) a teacher there reminding you when things need doing. 

Also, if you can, get ahead. The benefit of taking online classes is that most assignments open a week or two before they’re actually meant to be assigned, which means you have some tiem to get ahead and even finsh a week or two early if you do it right. The schedule I designed didn’t allow me to do that (though it could have easily been altered to do so), however, I wish I had simply so that in the last couple days of the quarter I wasn’t freaking out about the 800 things I suddenly had to do within 36 hours (that might be a slight exaggeration). 

I really did enjoy the online aspect, and I actually looked to see if there were more classes I could do online next quarter (though sadly only the initial online class I have planned is available). I really appreciated the freedom I had to design my own schedule (around my other obligations), and the freedom of being able to go over teh lectures in the car (some teachers offered video lectures), at a coffee shop, in the park–whereevver. I also really liked the discussions being online. 

Ok, well, there is a little bit of a tangent that goes along with this. To ensure an adiquate participation grade, most teachers requre the student not only to respond to the discussion prompt, but to then read the otehr students’ and respond to at least two of them. The problem is that sometimes there can be a very large collection of everyone saying the same thing. When that happens, the inspiration to respond runs dry pretty quickly–especially since you can’t quite get away with cutting and pasting your answer as a response. However, the upside of this is that you can take your time and read what each person has to say, unlike in class, where you sometimes have to guess at the meaning of someone’s workds, or if you heard them correctly to begin with. The down side again, is  you miss out on the energy of the discussion. In my philosophy class, I would have loved to been a part of an active and lively discussion regarding the concepts being presented. However, being able to read them and examine them before answering them proved helpful as well. Another benefit of the online discussions is that every student gets an opportunity to say something, to be heard.  In classroom discussions, due to time limits, this is’t always an option. 

I really appreciated the online classes, and I would do them again – though for classes that involve the humanities. There were a few hickups regarding communication between my nutrition teacher and I, and as soem readers may remember, I didn’t do well with my online math class either. However, for things regarding the humanities, I think that online classes are a fun and fantastic way to go. 

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