If you would’ve asked me about taking an online course a few years ago, there’s a good chance I would’ve chuckled and even scoffed at the idea. I’m that kid in the class that refuses to take notes on her computer. I prefer the old-fashioned way–pen and paper. As a student attending a modern school in the 21st century, I obviously am not opposed to technology, and I graciously accepted the iPad my math teacher gave me for Calc this year. But I don’t go out of my way to do things the “technology” way: If a teacher doesn’t require taking notes on a computer, you can bet I’ll be using a notebook. To be quite honest, technology most of the time just confuses me and brings about too many complications, and I find myself even more frustrated with a process that’s supposed to be made easier. So last year, I even surprised myself when I elected to take the online course. I made the decision to try something new, and while it can be difficult at times, I’m glad I challenged myself. This site‘s page, titled “What I Wished I’d Known Before Taking an Online Course,” enumerates tips and tricks for handling an online class. And this page lists the disadvantages and advantages to taking an online course, which I found pretty relatable.
After having been in AP Government for almost a month now, I can confidently say that I have finally mastered Voice thread, and it’s definitely my personal biggest accomplishment so far. I’m proud of myself for putting in the effort to learn how new and interesting technologies function, and using tools like Drop box and the discussion forums. I’m glad that I leapt out of my comfort zone, that I traded the world of loose leaf paper and whiteboards for Google hangout and Vimeo. As I’ve mentioned, it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning of the year, or really up until about last week, I found myself getting frustrated with the online course’s technologies–it wasn’t easy learning how to create an online Google slideshow presentation with a group of four other girls from across the world. However, more recently, I’ve learned that patience is the best virtue. Patience is an essential when dealing with technology–which I think is quite ironic because technology is supposed to make everything faster and more efficient. I’ve noted, so far, that an online course requires a completely different mindset to approach learning.
In my opinion, the easiest of the online tools we use is Google docs, just because I’m so familiar with it already from my classes last year. I also really appreciate the accessibility of the other students taking the online course…I thought it would be very difficult to reach everyone in my class, but I feel like as the weeks go by I’m getting to know everyone even better, through the discussions and comments we post online. It’s a pleasant surprise that I can get to really know girls from completely different states and backgrounds from me. The most difficult part of AP Government is the same thing: talking to the other girls in my class. Because we all are form different time zones, it can be pretty frustrating to connect with someone from across the country. But I optimistically see this as an opportunity to try something new and different. I’m taking note of everything I’m leaning–like when I have a group project assigned for the weekend, it might not good idea to email everyone else in my group Sunday afternoon. Taking an online class is definitely not easy–it’s like a rollercoaster–but I think that I’m all buckled in and ready to continue the journey.
For anyone with a similar problem to mine, I highly recommend this tutorial on how to use Google docs. It’s a lifesaver; from insignificant problems a technologically inept grandmother would ask her grandchild to more complicated matters appropriate for our class.