Jun 14, 2009

Going to school online.

I recently became a college student - and my classroom is a message board. Anyone who knows me, especially online folk, will know that this is a natural progression for me. For several years I crawled through a ton of online message boards. I've used them for everything from musical fandom to group support for the immune disorder I have. It would follow that I would find myself taking class within digital walls.

I had no idea what to expect at the start. My first day of class made me remember why I dropped out of college the first time. Online or not, nothing had really changed.

My first day of normal 'in-person' college made me giggle. The professors introduced themselves, the other students introduced themselves as well. The professor would stand in the front of the room and ask a question and no one would participate. I felt like I was swimming in a school of fish alright, but they were all swimming in one direction, following a fishing lure - I was attentive to the professor and ignoring the reflective bauble. For weeks this didn't change. The only one to raise a hand, the only one to turn in an assignment - and occasionally correct my professor. I was taking a broadcasting class - being taught by a print media writer who'd never worked a day in broadcasting - all the while I was working at a television station. I hated school. I only enjoyed one class - which was math - but I didn't enjoy that enough to stick around.

I often forget that not everyone in the world has had the same experiences or opportunities I have, especially educationally. I went to a school for the gifted, followed by getting to high school 2 years early. While in high school, I was in an accelerated math program. By the time I reached senior year I was taking calculus. But again, not everyone has these same opportunities.

My first day of class online, I had to laugh at how similar the format was to a virtual place I'd spent so much of my time in. The flashbacks to Prince's NPG Music Club website were coming fast and furiously. Some of the same emoticons we'd used were available to post with too. Some of the writing by my fellow students left much to be desired. Believe it or not, I was being nice with that last statement. There was some pretty bad writing - but it was the first day and I probably shouldn't have judged the class based on my first impression. But, I work in TV and pretty much my whole day is spent jumping to conclusions - making jokes - and insulting the writing of others. There are people who write professionally - who have degrees from major universities - who write worse than the students I judged my first day of school online.

A week later, I love my classes. The class I judged the most is now my favorite class to be in. Regardless of grammar or spelling, the students participate! They answer one another and write to one another and speak to one another. It isn't like swimming opposite the school of fish anymore. I'm happy to get lost in the discussion with everyone else. I can go to class at 4AM if I want! I can discuss a topic while watching TV even. I really couldn't be happier about it.

I just wish I hadn't judged things before experiencing them.