Archive for the ‘Learning about Learning’ Category

NUcomputerkeySo I have signed up for an online class. It’s the not the first time I’ve tried learning this way, but I’m as excited as I’ve been in a while. (My last try, a wonderful-sounding course on creativity taught by a Stanford design prof, crashed on the shoals of graduation season at St. Mary’s.)

The course is from Northwestern, and the Medill School (of Journalism, I think … do they still call it that in Evanston?). It’s called Understanding Media by Understanding Google. Hey, you can sign up, too, if you want. It’s a MOOC, a massive open online course, and it’s free. So far, it looks like north of 40,000 of us from around the world are taking this class.

OK, it’s not exactly free. I’ve loaded six new books onto my Kindle. It will take some serious time and discipline to figure out all the ways to communicate with my classmates and the prof, Owen Youngman. I’m a little overwhelmed at the volume of texts, links, wikis, forums and the comments on each. (Do we really need to have a discussion about Youngman’s religious preferences?)

It’s time for me to go down this path, though. The school where I work has jumped into online learning in a big way: St. Mary’s was a charter member of the Online School for Girls, and many of our wonderful teachers do their thing online, too. Many of the girls will take an online course before they graduate; there’s talk that an online course might become a graduation requirement. My kid is going to a school where all of his learning is online, and he spends his homework hours each night plugged into his laptop. I know from watching him that online learning is different from the books/lectures/notes learning I did in high school, but I don’t really know how. I need to know.

My brainiac husband has been taking online classes for several years now — computer programming from Stanford was a recent one, I think — but since he is an engineer who is also an online entrepreneur, I’m not sure our online learning journeys will have much in common. Still, at least I am on social media already. Maybe that’s one learning curve that won’t be so steep. (Though I am a newbie to Google+.)

In these blog posts I want to write about taking this course as if I were talking to a plugged-in but not necessarily online-learning literate friend. Tonight’s news flash: I’m a bit overwhelmed. This is a university-level course, and it’s been a long time since I had graded homework, forget about graded forum discussions.

Tomorrow’s the first day of class. Somehow I think it won’t be the same as Basic Writing, circa 1977, which was my last first day at Medill. Wish me luck.

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