Druing my first few weeks of college after many years away, things have changed greatly. It was a whole new way of learning, with some positive and some negative. To be honest, I was not completely prepared for the changes to the traditional method of learning.
The very first issue I encountered was the web interface that was used to deliver the “lecture” portion of the class. So many things were located in different places, it was difficult to navigate to the needed information. The first area consisted of my student information. It was one of the easier sections to navigate, yet the information still did not seem to come easily. Each and every time I attempted to look at my class schedule I ended up looking at a list of clases I could register for. Trial and error finally led me to the correct place, but it took a few attempts.
The class specific area was much more difficult. This being a hybrid couse with online lecture and in school lab had many unique challenges. The main page for the class listed folders for several things such as lecture materials, lab materials, lecture syllabus, lab syllabus. In the main lecture materials it laid out all of the assignments for the week. We were to complete these by a set date and time “usually” by 11:59 PM. I say usually because somedays , particularly when there was an online exam, it could be 7:00 9:00 PM anytime, it was different each time on exam day. I still dont know why it wasnt set for the duration of class, and it only took one missed assignment that I turned in at 8:00 PM to make sure It never happened again.
Exams were a different beast all together. These were given in a special locked browser with a set time limit. I cant stress enough how stressful that little timer was initially, seeing it tick away just above your work. Taking the tests was difficult, not overly, but difficult enough to make me re-evaluate my study habits. Ill talk about modifying study habits in a future post, I had made big changes and they paid big dividends. Online tests require a different approach, as least for me. I had to set a pace of question(s) per minute or some other similar metric. I always timed it so I had several minutes at the end to review those that I either took an educated guess or was just unsure of. Another fine point to make, the submit quiz/test button was directly after the next question button. It was easy to make a mistake an submit a partially completed exam. The exams got much easier after a few were completed, making changes to my study habits contributed the most. Confidently Knowing the answeres added loads of time at the end of an exam.
The assignments section was another portion than gave me fits in the beginning. Preparing homework was difficult, it never came easy connecting to all of the information. An assignment was given and to find all of the relavent information for completion you had to look in several places. The assignment page listed the assignment and what the format, grading etc. needed to be. Some of the information came from the book, some was in the lecture materials, and some was in the useful links section. Once again to do a simple 1 hour assignment it took over 2 hours. What I did to streamline this for me was use tabs in firefox/chrome. I made a bookmark folder with every possible link to an area where I would have to go for information. At the start of every assignment, I wouldright click that folder and open all of those links in individual tabs. I never missed a portion of the assignment this way and It saved time, lots of it.
The lab portion of class was easier to get the hang of, simply having a teacher there to ask questions and get feedback from was a great difference from online learning. This was a blessing for me. My teacher was great, enthusiastic and one of those people you meet who truly care about giving you the best of themselves. Lab wasnt without its challenges though, but none of them related to a web interface. This was intense for me, so much information all at once and it seemed to move so fast. Maybe I have a skewed perception of how things were 20 years ago, but it definetly could have overwhelmed me at first without a helpful teacher and good support at home.
One last point I would like to make about online learning. You must adapt to it, it will never change for you. Changes need made in how you approach the class, how to study, how to plan your week for the assignments due. In the online portion, there is nobody there to spoonfeed you the information. You absolutely need determination and drive if you want to succed in this class. Especially in a health care relate field, it is imperative you learn the subject and the concepts presented, not just get a passing grade.
Job related education I have taken over the years helped me immensely in biology class. The portion on chemistry came along particularly well from hundreds and hundreds of hours of hazardous materials training. Give yourself the opportunity to succeed in online learning, or any learning for that matter. Setting unrealistic goals and doubting your abilities only harms your chances for success. One last thing, dont discount things you have learned along the way in life, both at home and work. You will be amazed how life experience will help you with certaing aspects of classes, except that darn electron transport chain.