Thursday, June 9, 2011

Midway through first semester

I have decided trying to juggle a full time job, grad school, tweeting and blogging simultaneously is dang near impossible. Sleep has to take place sometime, so this blog has taken a back seat for a bit. Now that we have reached the midpoint of the five-week course, I realized I owe everyone an update. All excuses aside I have found the experience quite exhilarating and not nearly as difficult to get back in the swing of as I feared.

Distance learning is a great. My professors have two different styles of teaching. Both conduct their courses asynchronously, however, one maintains a more rigid schedule of deliverables while the other outlined the projects we must complete within the period of the semester at our own pace. Given the different topics and focus of each course, this seems to be working well.

The more rigid schedule is conducted in an interesting format. Prior to each assignment, we provide initial thoughts on the topic about to be covered in class. Then we participate in the assignment and conclude with more thoughts either updating our original ideas or indicating why our opinions have changed. This sequence allows us as students to draw initial conclusions with which to frame our learning.

I was concerned the forum structure of the class would be a hindrance to the normal classroom environment of real time feedback. This concern has proven to be unfounded as the discussion boards are actually a better solution in that many of us take more time to consider our responses to each other. I know the feedback I have received has definitely helped me improve the quality of my work.

In addition to adopting the new style of learning, I have discovered that writing for graduate school is a lot different than anywhere else. The APA format is required for all submissions. I actually had to Google APA to even know what it is. Now that I have been using it for a couple of weeks I find that the format actually lends itself to improved reporting for experimental work. I may attempt to use it for my professional research and development work as well.

So far I am doing well in both classes. I will post again at the end of my first course this month.

- Ken

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