I am one of the many online library students in the world today. Even though many great programs like the University of Washington (San Jose State, Simmons) have online masters programs, I still get blank looks and tons of questions when I introduce myself as an online student (both residential students at UW & librarians/archivists at conferences). So what do we online students do all day since we don’t have scheduled class times? How does this whole online school thing work? Even these questions have been plaguing you, have no fear I’m here to tell you about my day.
This quarter Monday, Wednesday, Friday are my pure school days. I usually work on various types of school work from around 11 am (when my husband leaves for work) to 7 pm (when he calls me on his drive home for work). Now staying in my apartment working on my laptop or desktop all day is a bit of a drag (believe me I did this my first quarter but ALL WEEK – once I realized I hadn’t been outside in 5 days I knew something had to change) so I walk down to my favorite local coffee shop for the first few hours of the day. Not only is it nice to you know be outside for a little while, but I get some nice social interaction with my baristas who know me quite well by now.
On this particular Wednesday, I had earmarked the day for my indexing class which I had neglected the previous week. When working through a module for a class, I usually read the assigned articles first then move on to the recorded lectures. Now depending on the class I might take a break between lectures (usually our lectures are only 30-40 minutes long) and head over to the discussion boards. For online students, the discussion board is our classroom. Think of it this way – online education is the original flipped classroom. We read the material and watch the lectures then we come together to discuss the major issues of modules (these can be proposed by the professor or the students can bring up points they want or both!)
Now the dynamics of an online discussion do differ from an in person discussion. We are required to participate in some manner (Now I know this is the norm in most classes but it seems more immediate when your professor can actually count the number of your posts) plus our conversations last for one to two weeks. We do have the normal group of super participators that talk early and often, but overall I feel like more people get in on the discussion. However, when discussion participation is not a part of our grade discussion boards can become a desert wasteland (like the case with my indexing class this quarter).
Now that you have the basics of the online education, let me get on with my day. My indexing class had an assignment due on Wednesday and this week it was a partner assignment. We each indexed the same article and then swapped our indexing terms and answered a series of questions about the consistency measurements of our terms. Out of all the group work I’ve completed this partner work is my favorite type. Also I enjoy seeing how another student indexes the same materials and getting to compare our results.
After finishing my assignment I jumped onto my Management class’s discussion board to catch up on the chatter since last week. By the time I finished all this it was time to wrap up my work for the day.
My evening consisted of making some delicious home made chicken nuggets, watching Supernatural, and working on my indexing and transcriptions for Hiring Librarians! So there you have it – a normal day in the life of an online student.