Learning from your classmates
I attended USC for my undergraduate degree, so I am accustomed to small classes of 8-12 students where each lecture depends heavily on class discussion. The online format has not diminished the quality of my interactions with classmates. If anything, the online format has enhanced the experience by allowing students of all ages from all over the country and from all kinds of different backgrounds to be in the same class together.
The basic class structure is the same as it would be in a brick-and-mortar situation. You can see your teacher, you can see your classmates (although, you also see yourself!), there is a whiteboard for notes, a chatbox for writing to one another, and a button to press to raise your hand. There is also a desktop sharing feature, which recently enabled one of my teachers to show us a short video during class about Homeboy Industries and gang prevention education that she had access to on her computer. This would be the equivalent of her turning on a projector and screen in the classroom and all of us watching a video together.
Every class session I am reminded of the benefits of having a diverse group of peers. One classmate just graduated from college and is living in New York City, another is an ex-long haul trucker living in rural Oregon, someone else is in Alaska, someone used to be in the military, someone has already been teaching for 10 years, and a number of my classmates are parents with small children, who work full-time as well as study full-time.
These are all experiences that we bring to the classroom and share in the form of stories and opinions and perspectives. I like to think about it this way: In addition to our varied professional and personal lives, each class represents first-hand educational experiences from about ten different states over the span of three to four decades. That is a lot of combined experience that we all bring to the table…or should I say computer screen?
Anissa is seeking her CA teaching credentials to become a single subject English teacher.