This past week in AP GOV really hit hard with characteristics of online learning. The project we are currently doing is one of the biggest this term and we had to work with three other partners to design a new electoral system with rules governing the media, financing, and campaigning. Considering the importance of the project and the depth of research, it is no surprise that a lot of Google hangouts and Skype sessions were required to complete the project. Although much of this technology was not new, it was definitely a more interactive process. For the most part, I had only used Goolge Docs to share documents with my teacher for grading. With this project, I got to actually jointly write a script with my group. Besides our class review Skype sessions, I also had not Skyped with more than one person before.
Looking back over the past eleven weeks, I’m not at all surprised at how far we’ve come in collaborating over the Internet. When we began AP GOV I was afraid that my lack of technological skills would impair my learning. On our first group project I spent hours trying to work through different sites like Google Powerpoint and Voicethread. Eleven weeks later, it is clear that our whole class has grown very proficient using these online tools. The directions to this recent project were informative enough to let our group know what was required information wise, but abstract enough to allow us to collaborate through creative means. For example, the page we design must have some narrated portion and instead of assigning the video to one person in the group to make by themselves, we decided to utilized voicethread so we can all contribute.
I know it may seem fairly redundant to be discussing blogging on a blog, but entering the class, this was certainly one of the areas I was most ignorant in. Overall, blogging has also become much easier than it was at the beginning of the term. As I mentioned previously, before I entered the class, I had never written or looked at a blog before and largely underestimated their importance. Besides from this public class blog, we are also expected to keep a current events blog, so needless to say, our class has received a lot of experience blogging, which will undoubtedly be more important for the future. To participate in this class, I also read a great deal of blogs and realize how enlightening it can be to discuss ideas with people who I would never otherwise come in contact with. Also, I now find that when keeping up with current events, it is most efficient to use Google Reader.
Considering all the new tools I have learned that the Internet holds, it is easy to show that Online Classes offer much more than the information one would gain from reading a textbook in a classroom. Looking at modern society, it is clear that more and more things are turning to the Internet and in this changing environment, I am confident that the girls in this online class will be prepared for these changes.