I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled about participating in online discussions and I felt uncomfortable recording my voice online for voicethread comments and presentations. When the class first started, my schoolwork level was at its height and I began to fall behind on the assignments for this class. When I finally was able to organize my activities and begin catching up on work, I found that I was spending twice the effort and time on tasks just because I was so unfamiliar with working in an online atmosphere (in fact, this is my first-ever blog post). This was evident in the time I spent on the first couple of discussion posts, which took me a grueling two hours to construct. In a face-to-face classroom setting, I am usually one of the most opinionated students and often have no restraints jumping into debates. Suddenly, when I sat down to compose a response I found myself with little to say and contribute. The issue wasn’t so much that I was apathetic to the matters at hand, but rather that I was so fixated on the fact that I was contributing a written piece that after the 30 minute time limit passed, could no longer be edited. I worked meticulously, terrified that if I left mistakes in my post they would not only be easily identified, but also indelible. With each post, however, as I began to warm up to the class, I became less self-conscious about my writing and was able to formulate my opinions much quicker.
As our fourth week in AP USGOV begins, I have grown not only to be comfortable in a virtual classroom, but also to appreciate many aspects of online learning. In the past week we were assigned our first group presentation, which was originally one of the things I was most concerned about because I had never used voicethread before and I was uncertain how to communicate with my partner. As it turned out, the group presentation was one of the most engaging projects in our class thus far. Communicating, even while my partner Jennifer and I were in different time zones, was surprisingly simple. Dividing up the work so each person contributed an equal amount was also an easy task because the class is independent in nature. Overall, this group project probably went the smoothest out of all the ones I have done for any class. In some cases, I have even found online learning is even better than learning in a “normal” classroom because everything is adapted to your schedule. On our first exam it was incredibly nice to come home and take the test when I felt prepared, relaxed, and awake. I also prefer watching the lectures as a video because I can take notes at my own pace, rewind parts that I missed, and most importantly chose to do them when I am attentive.
Learning about government in general has been a fascinating experience. As a subject, social studies was never my passion until I starting taking AP United States History. Through taking APUSGOV I have been able to augment much of the material I am learning concurrently in APUSH. All of the legislation, reforms, administrative policies, and elections that we study in history class have become more meaningful just from reading the first unit. I find that with every new week through the videos we watch, discussions we contribute to, essays we write, and projects we complete, I begin thinking about topics that I never would have considered before (e.g. the war on terrorism and the conflicts it creates with our individual right to privacy).
Overall, these past four weeks have both been an important learning experience and a pleasure. I cannot wait for what lies ahead in APGOV and am even excited for my next blog.