Monday, June 06, 2011

Hunkered down in the virtual classroom

Okay, so I've made it through my first week of online teaching. I was feeling pretty good on Thursday morning. Tired, from many late nights on the computer, but good. I was through with the initial launching of the class phase, and should be into the regular maintenance phase. The workload would become so much more reasonable!

By Thursday night, my feelings of well-being had worn off. We're going on vacation this Friday to the Outer Banks for a week. This will be wonderful, and I'm really looking forward to it ... except last Thursday night, I sat down and took a look at all of the assignments, lectures, quizzes, etc. that I'll have to prepare before we leave. It's even worse than my original To Do list. It was so depressing.

I feel like I'm getting a glimpse of why online classes, particularly during the summer, can be a very bad idea for students. They like the idea of fitting in class on their schedule, around all of their other activities. But do they (or I!) realize how much work it entails when we're unwilling to spend time in the classroom. When we insist on fitting in class around everything else that we'd rather be doing, or need to be doing, it will most likely necessitate late nights and long, working weekends.

I'm going to be fine. I'll complain a lot about how tough my life is, and how much work I have to do, but I will get it done. I'm sure that some of my students will, too. And I'm just as certain that some of them won't. I already have 4 students who have never signed in to the class (keeping in mind that we've already completed 3 assignments, and 1 of 10 weeks in the class). Two others have signed in once, but not actually completed any work. I'm sure there's a few others who may be involved now, but will drop off as the reading and writing piles up and there's so many other activities going on.

Or maybe the students will be like me, and keep fooling themselves into thinking that it's going to get easier any minute. I told myself it would get easier after the class started, and that didn't quite come to pass. But now I'm convinced that, once this week is over and we're on vacation, it will get better. By the end of this week I'll have 5 of the 10 weeks completely finished. And, of the remaining 5 weeks, 3 will be focused on a novel that I've taught in the past and have a lot of material for. So it will all be a breeze for the second half of the semester, right? Right. Let's stick with that, for now!

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