At the risk of completely oversimplifying online education, I’m personally finding it’s a little like social networking for smart people.
For those just tuning in, I enrolled Thursday in a graduate-level online course at Stephens to get a better understanding of virtual learning.
I completed my first assignment Saturday morning, and as soon as I did, I had access to other students’ assignments. After that I was more interested in checking for updated posts in my virtual classroom than I was in checking updates on my Facebook wall.
Assignments for an online course involve writing on a discussion board. The instructor posts a question and you’re expected to respond. Responses are the online equivalent of turning in homework: Answers have to be researched with sources cited. Fortunately, even though I haven’t been in a college course in some 15 years, after a quick scan of how to use APA style, it all came back to me.
My first post to the discussion board took about an hour and a half. As soon as I posted it, I could see and respond to other students’ answers. Without getting into specifics, the back and forth exchanges were really interesting, and I found myself thinking critically about the subject at hand.
I can tell you it’s really rewarding to interact with professionals from all backgrounds and from all over the country in an online classroom setting.
So, yes, imagine if all of your Facebook friends were posting intelligent, well thought out, interesting ideas around the same topic, and you’ve got a vague idea of what online learning looks like.