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Archive for the ‘computer studies’ Category

My First Online Class: Quite An Adventure

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Although I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from traditional USC (University of Southern California), I longed to experience taking an online class. After all, that is what I write about on this blog.

So to test the waters, I enrolled in an online Computer Web Design class at the local junior college. To apply and register took less than an hour and cost $43 — all accomplished online.

The professor, a Stanford graduate, sent out an e-mail directing his students to a web page that contained all of the basic information we needed for the class — the syllabus, resource page, grades page, message board, detailed numbered assignments, quiz information, etc. The syllabus directed us to buy a textbook and cd, which I ordered online. My text was on sale at Amazon, which was a plus.

We were asked to introduce ourselves on the message board; and I found that a large percentage of my class was already working in software design, graphic design, engineering or computer science industry. There were about 125 of us, according to the introductions. As a novice on the technical side of the computer, I wondered whether I had been a tad ambitious in picking this particular class as my online education experiment. But I have an adventurous streak in me; so I forged ahead.

Each week, we received a detailed e-mail from our teacher explaining any pitfalls or special instructions regarding the assignment that was due that week. The assignment instructions, when I printed them out, were detailed — running from 3-7 pages each week.

On average, we had to read about 50-70 pages each week of technical material, watch the appropriate video lessons on the cd, take an open book quiz (which was tricky), take part in the class discussion on the message board and upload our multi-part web page project to the junior college server for grading. Then, within a day, we could check our grades by using our student identification number.

I wish I could say that I sailed through the entire class without a snag; but I quickly learned to depend upon my interactions with the teacher and the other students to complete my assignments successfully. And because the class was online, following the written instructions was crucial to saving time and avoiding errors.

And what else did I learn?

  1. Budgeting my time was critical. I stayed up all night once completing an assignment; because I ran into multiple snags. If I had started earlier in the week, I would not have missed my sleep.
  2. I had more interaction with my online teacher than I ever did with traditional classes. Anytime I ran into a problem, I either e-mailed him directly or wrote to him on the message board. He always responded in a timely manner, even on Sunday evening when I hit a wall.
  3. Message boards are great for interacting with fellow students. The students were great about helping each other and laying out their own problems and solutions so others could benefit.
  4. Open book quizzes require a lot of study. The teacher fashioned the quiz questions so that the answers were not easily found in the book. You had to read and understand the material in order to do well on the quizzes. We were only allowed to log into the quiz once; so I always tried to finish it quickly to avoid getting a zero if the Internet connection cut off.
  5. My teacher was amazing! He handled questions and problems from students 7 days a week from over 100 remaining students (a few dropped the class) and kept a positive ‘You can do it’ attitude. All this with a wife and 2 young children at home.

Would I do it again? I must say — I am hooked. Taking an online class was challenging; but I learned that I can do it. I did well in the class. And I did everything from home on my own computer on my schedule. You really can’t beat that!

I received a class e-mail today about the things we can learn in Part B of Computer Web Design – more on cascading style sheets, tables, borders, linking photos, html, etc. I really don’t need to take that class to move onto Dreamweaver, my ultimate goal. Why put myself through all of the deadlines, work, projects, etc.?

Yet, today I found myself registering for Part B of Computer Web Design with my same teacher. And who knows? I may later pursue an online masters degree in information technology.

After all, as I said, I have an adventurous streak.

online class, online masters degree, online degree, web design, computer, online education, information technology, Stanford, USC, University of Southern California, graphic_design, software_design, engineering, Dreamweaver

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Posted by vida