My first class has been over for a couple of weeks - and I've had some time to reflect upon the whole experience - the first class in my MLS program and my first online class. Before taking the class, I was a bit unsure about what to expect from a distance education class. Admittedly, I worry about everything - especially schoolwork. I think I tend to believe that my grade will be based on the number of hours of self-flagellation I put myself through. So on top of my usual worries about starting a new program, I spent hours obsessing about what an online class would be like - would it be too easy? would it be too difficult? would there be any social interaction? how would I be able to figure out what the professor wanted? would I have the dedication and discipline needed to complete the class? how would the quality of the class be? how would others view a distance MLS?
I think I have mentioned before in this blog that I found the class to be a really rewarding experience. In addition to being worried about the online experience, I was a bit unsure about the actual class - Introduction to Information Science and Technology - and whether the material would be challenging. In my work, I am a head of library systems at a small academic library - and I am no stranger to information or technology. In fact, it is my job to be the most knowledgeable person about technology in the library. So, when I first opened the textbook and read the sections on how to connect to the internet, how to buy a computer etc., I wondered about the actual class material. Would it all be this basic? Fortunately, it wasn't. I really feel as if I learned quite a bit. The professor gave us choices in assignments so that we could choose projects that would challenge us. This was one of the reasons that I chose to do a wiki project - I was interested in wikis, but had no experience with them at all. Additionally, the web search exercise was fascinating - and I learned so much even though I have used search engines extensively for several years. All in all, the class made me look at several things in a whole new light - and that is worth its weight in gold (or the cost of tuition)!!
Apart from the actual content of the class, I also really enjoyed the online format. The threaded discussion took the place of classroom discussion - and I was actually suprised at how much social interaction the discussions promoted. People's personalities really shined through their posts. Also, in a traditional classroom, one cannot take classes with people in New England, Hawaii, and the Czech Republic (and assorted other places). It was an eye opening experience. The only difficult part of the online class was being able to read what the professor expected in terms of coursework. Well, I guess it wasn't difficult just very different. In a traditional class, there is human contact - and I guess that I have always relied upon that as a means to read the professor. Pouring through documents, email and discussion posts didn't give me confidence that I was writing my paper the right way or carrying out my project the right way. I was incredibly nervous about what material would be on the final. However, now that I look back, I was right about what the professor wanted - I was just second guessing myself because I didn't feel confident about taking an online class. Hopefully, I will be a bit more comfortable next semester!!!!