Connecting with classmates

As I mentioned in my last post, there is a con to taking an online course: When you attend class time, you have to stare at yourself alongside all of your classmates as you discuss the topic for the week. (I will say that this prompted me to give myself a really cute haircut…short, sort of like a shag…but I digress). However, the pros far outweigh the cons.

First of all, due to our forum participation requirement, I have more contact with my classmates than I did when I was an undergrad. All week we engage in discussions and debates about the week’s readings, but we also talk about more personal issues. For example, I’ve heard stories about classmates’ kids who are currently experiencing racism in the classroom. We’ve given each other advice on how to motivate our own kids. Students who are already teachers tell the rest of us what has worked, and not worked, for them.

Then there are our class discussions. I’m in one class with students who live in various places in California, one in New Jersey, another in Texas, a woman in Vietnam, and another who, surprisingly, lives in the same town as my parents do, just an hour and fifteen minutes from me. In our class sessions, we see each other’s video feeds as we discuss. Is it exactly the same as being in a classroom? No. Is it more difficult to communicate? Not at all. In fact, sometimes it’s easier to take a chance on expressing your opinions when you are not physically sitting next to your classmates. And, sometimes you end up with a really great haircut!

Fight on!