Tell me what you love/hate about online schooling - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 04-19-2010, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I love my part time job, but looking towards the future, I will probably want to work full time eventually. I'm currently a preschool teacher in a public charter school. I have a bachelor's degree in psychology, which was enough to get me my current job, but doesn't do much to qualify me for other jobs.

ANYWAY... I'm considering going back to school to get another BS in elementary ed which would qualify me to become a licensed teacher in my state. I've found what seems to be a perfect solution- a state university that offers a 3 year program for people who already have a bachelor's degree. The program is almost completely online, with only occasional face-to-face weekend sessions. The program seems like it would fit perfectly into my life, I could easily continue working while going to school. And because it's a state university, tuition is relatively affordable. I also trust in the credibility of the program because it is a part of the state university system; all of the reviews I've found have been positive.

I'm really interested in your opinions and experiences with e-learning. In general, I've always enjoyed school (in addition to my BS, I was halfway through grad school when DS1 was born and I decided to become a SAHM), but I've been out of school for so long that online college classes are outside of my personal experience- they just weren't an option for me 10 years ago. I love to read and learn new things, and I'm pretty darn familiar with using computers/the internet/ discussion boards/ chat.

What are the pros/cons of learning online? What should I look out for?

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#2 of 11 Old 04-19-2010, 12:38 PM
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I love that I can take my tests at 11 pm if need be (and it's usually when I do, b/c they tend to be due by midnight ). I love that I can stop and start lectures as I please, pausing to go to the bathroom or help the kids if they are here and awake. I love that, for the most part, my instructors have been very helpful despite not being in face-to-face contact with them - they are generally good at responding quickly to emails, or are available for chat while we are working on assignments. I love that I can still somewhat get to know other students via the discussion boards. I love that most quizzes and tests are graded automatically b/c they are multiple choice/True-False - so after I hit submit I can see right away how well I did and see what my overall grade for the class is.

I love a lot of things about online classes - one thing, though, is that depending on the course, they can be just as much if not more work than on-campus classes.

The downside for me is the accountability isn't the same - like, I procrastinate like crazy b/c I don't have to be in class on Tues., so I might not even log in to see what's going on until Friday. That said, some courses do track the times/hrs you are online and count that towards participation (along with discussion posts), but usually you have a time-frame (ie a week) to get work done - when it's good for you. Some instructors do post quizzes on a specific day and they are only available for so many hours - so then it is similar to having to be in class to take them. I've had issues with blackboard not working - and my psychology teacher a couple semesters ago wasn't so compassionate even though all students had issues logging in. I still got an A in that course, but it was frustrating for her to not be more understanding. So definitely try not to wait last minute b/c your own internet could go down, or the server could have kinks.

Anyhow, I think online learning can be great. I took a couple semesters online after I had my first baby 9 years ago - and things have seemed to advanced quite a bit now that I am back in school again. I am, however, looking forward to taking on-campus courses in the fall after 3 semesters online this go. I need sciences, and while some schools do offer online lectures and labs - I want to be there in person b/c I think that's how I learn best when we are talking A+P and Microbiology. Plus, I want the interaction with other students - face-to-face.

okay, done rambling. As long as the school is credited, and you do an orientation to figure out the online system of uploading files and such, I think you'll be fine.

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#3 of 11 Old 04-19-2010, 12:54 PM
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I took two on-line classes last summer and liked it for the most part (grad classes in education).

The first week I was trying to learn the interface while keeping up with a very hard class, it was very time consuming. They were both on four week formats so it didn't have issues with procrastination.

The one thing I didn't like was last month when I went to a large professional development meeting I knew some of my classmates were there, but I would have had to have read their namestags in order to recognize them.
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#4 of 11 Old 04-19-2010, 04:43 PM
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I really love taking my online classes. This is my 3rd term and it is going great. The biggest thing for me is scheduling out my time. Usually at the beginning of the term I get a calendar that shows when everything is due in each class. I then schedule out my days so that everything is getting done in enough time. I get all of my assignments, quizzes, exams done at least a few days in advance so that if I need to, I have flexibility.

The thing that I have learned is that, just as in face-to-face classes, not all teachers are alike. I do my research to find out which teacher is the best fit for me for that class and choose them as I had experience with an online teacher who gave a TON of busywork.

I do miss meeting classmates and having face to face interation but I don't have the option right now of going to an actual class (except for my chem lab once a week). In two years I will have to take spend time on campus and it is going to be interesting to see how I will pull it off.

Have fun!
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#5 of 11 Old 04-20-2010, 01:11 PM
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nak... i did the online Master's education program through Drexel U and loved it. there wasn't anything i'd say i didn't like - professors, schedule, quality of materials, discussion forums, flexibilty but with some accountability that i needed. Helpful advisors. Oh, group projects online w/strangers, that i did hate. total PITA.

good luck!

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#6 of 11 Old 04-20-2010, 06:56 PM
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I absolutely love on-line learning and will probably never go back to the traditional classroom again. My B.S. and M.A. were both in-person, but I've been taking classes on-line since 2003. My second B.A. and my upcoming M.A. will both be the result of on-line study.

Like a few of the PP's said, one of the hallmarks of on-line ed. is flexibility. This is the main reason why I go this route. A lot of my courses rely on essays as assessments instead or addition to of m/c quizzes, which is fine!

Now for the downside:
This style of learning/teaching is still evolving, so you're bound to get a few teachers who just don't "get it". I've had professors who utilize all aspects of Blackboard, from listening to podcasts to watching videos, as well as discussion boards, animations, etc. It's a rich learning environment. And then there's the teachers who basically post their class notes... and that's it. Those are some pretty awful courses. My husband took a particularly terrible course where the teacher freely admitted that he did not support on-line education and did nothing to help the students. Nice.

Also, you might find that although everyone is using Blackboard (or Moodle, or whatever), all professors use it differently. So there's always a steep learning curve at the start of the term where you have to figure out how to navigate each course page, where the documents are located, etc.

You may run into the yucky world of proctoring, where a professor will require that you take a test in-person under the supervision of a proctor. These professors won't post the tests on-line but instead will mail them to a proctor (usually located at a local library, learning center, or university) and then you have to go out of your way to take the test in person. I usually drop courses like that.

Overall, I think on-line ed. is a GREAT way to go. Best of luck to you.

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#7 of 11 Old 04-22-2010, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all of the comments!

I'm not *too* worried about professors not supporting online classes because it's a pretty long-standing (relatively speaking) online program. I'll take all of the classes with a cohort of stuedents all enrolled in the same program.

I also know ahead of time that tests will either be in a predetermined location, or will be proctored by my mentor (the program requires that I have a mentor).

Thank you! I'm really leaning towards going for it... I just hope that things settle down at work and employment decisions for next year are made so that I can ask one of my coworkers to mentor me.

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#8 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 06:55 AM
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Working when it was convenient
How incredibly organized the material was (good prof)
How helpful it was to have everything in one place so I could go back to it
Dialoguing with colleagues from around the state who I would not have met in a classroom
It was the best class I took in my graduate program
With email I had genuine conversations with my prof


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#9 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 10:36 AM
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I think everyone else covered the positives well and it is great that it is a program that has been online for awhile, so they should use the online tools well. I just wanted to emphasize the biggest challenge for me when I took an online course was it is very easy to procrastinate. You have to adjust to not having to go to class being the accountability trigger, just make sure you go into it knowing you will have to make a flexible plan that works for you so you don't put things off and get yourself in trouble. Good luck!

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#10 of 11 Old 04-23-2010, 11:54 AM
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I've been taking a combination of online and in-person classes for the last couple years. They have their pros and cons, and this is what I love and hate about them:

Can do my assignments and tests when it is convenient for me.. naptime, after kids are in bed, before they wake up in the morning, while they are happily watching a movie. Sometimes I go to the library down the street to get quiet time though, but I can still do that on my time and not a set time.

I also like that I am saving in gas money that I would be using going to and from school.

My online classes seam to be a lot more time consuming than my in person class. A lot of the online classes still want to grade on participation, which means lots of online discussions and lots of papers. This semester I have a minimum of 4 papers a week, plus 2-4 online discussions, then sometimes there is an extra, longer paper, plus a test. I've never had such a big course load than with my online classes. In person classes have had a lot less assignments than my online ones.

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#11 of 11 Old 04-26-2010, 04:30 PM
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I am currently working on my Masters of Ed in secondary education with emphasis in biology. The program is run through a one of our state's universities and it utilizes an on-line format but we do have mandatory face-to-face meetings occasionally. For those of us that do not live in the same city as the university we are allowed to attend through webinar using Elluminate. I really like the program. All of our professors are great teachers and very helpful and easy to contact. The workload for this program is kind of insane, but it is an accelerated program that also includes one semester of student practicum (this while taking other courses) and one semester of student teaching.

I agree with a previous poster that the workload seems more than a class in person would be but it is because my professors (one in particular) really puts an emphasis in discussions, participation, and making the class feel like more of a community in which we can discuss things and help each other with difficult concepts/assignments.

The things I like most about the on-line program are that I can do the work whenever it is easiest for me (usually at night after dd is in bed or while she is in school) and that it lets me do my school work for anywhere, if we want to travel somewhere I can pack up my lap top and textbooks and don't need to worry about it.

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