Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Student Attitude

Sorry I'm late posting today; I was up late last night wrestling with a project and forgot to queue up my post for publication.

The online art class I'm taking is going well, I think. It's a bit more complicated than I expected, and some of the skills that I took for granted definitely need some rust remover. Lots of work, too, but I'm learning new things, and discovering some old truths: stencils are (still) not my friends; nothing ever turns out like it looks in your head; and if the instructions say wait until the paper is completely dry before you do something, wait until the paper is completely dry.

Being a virtual student is interesting, though. Earlier this year I took a six-week, in-real-life Bible study class with my mom, and while the art class is completely different I can't help comparing the two. When an instructor asks a question, no one ever wants to be the first to answer. There always seems to be someone who doesn't understand the simplest assignment, and someone who already knows everything and probably should be in a more advanced class. No matter what the subject or question is, everyone seems to dread being called on in case they don't have the right answer.

Then there are the personalities. Among real-life students you can always pick out certain types: the over-achiever, the oddball, the suck-up, the talker, the whiner, the fight-picker, the peacemaker. Virtual classes, on the other hand, have the internet as a buffer, and people seem to bring with them their cyber personas, which are all pretty similar.

Not being the teacher for once is also something of a challenge for me, especially when there are questions. My natural inclination to try to problem-solve and provide answers, but that's not my role in this situation, so I have to constantly remind myself to shut up. It's good for me, however, because when you do nothing but teach you tend to forget what it's like to be on the receiving end of the information. I'm seeing that an instructor can easily fall into the trap of assuming everyone knows what they're talking about, which results in leaving behind some people who didn't get it but were too shy to speak up.

I'm taking away from this experience a lot of data on what and how I want to teach in the future as well as how and what I want to pursue as a student. That may be the most valuable part of taking any course online or in real-life.

Now a couple of questions for you guys: What sort of online or real-life classes would you like to take (doesn't matter what subject)? Have you taken any classes either way that you found were particularly helpful? Let us know in comments.


  1. I'm taking Biology and Chemistry online this fall. I have legitimate concerns about blowing up my kitchen doing chemistry labs

  2. I like that picture -- I've been trying to take some classes in watercolor, as I felt like I need some art in my life. Is this class in that?

    I clicked over to your picture blog and saw some of your recent ATC experiments -- lovely. I'm impressed.

    Anyway, as for my own desire for classes -- I'd go for more history, some art (as long as they accepted students whose stick figures are laughed at!), and even more history. I love history.

  3. I would love to take a few arts or crafts-type classes, in particular I would love to learn how to knit. Teaching myself from a book led to frustration and throwing my needles down in disgust, haha. I was a financial aid officer for a while for a large online university, and the training for that position was a lot like school. It made me realize how much I love learning, and how much I miss being in class. I need to figure out how to make it work in my schedule without sacrificing time with family, and how to pay for it without going into debt. Hmmmm. ;-)

  4. I love online classes and workshops, and take them often (usually Bible studies and writing workshops.) It would be fun to do something totally different!

  5. Hmmm...having taken years of in-person bible study classes, I found the ones by a specific teacher (don't know that I should say here) done in video format (because I take copious notes so it was a great format for me) and then an open discussion after seemed to be the best way I learned in that area. I haven't done those for a few years though.

    I'd give my eye teeth to take a one-on-one writing course or two. I need to be able to sit down with someone who can look at something and point to this or that and push me to try harder to see the best way to write something. I've taken several done over the yahoo loops and that has got to be The. Worst. Arena. EVER! I finally realized while taking a Bob Mayer class that I'd really been looking forward to that the yahoo loop just doesn't work at all for me. I got nothing out of the class except for his 'lessons' which are now saved in a binder.

    Any handcrafts came at the knees of my grandmothers and aunt. That was, and looking at my eye teeth sentence, and evidently still is the best for me.

    And I love the picture! I can do watercolor on fabric, but I just can't master the technique on paper. I don't know why.

  6. I suck at online classes, but there have been a few workshops, usually writing related, that have proving useful. One of these days I tell myself I'll take a photography class, but I'm so lazy, I dunno if I'll ever do it.

  7. Anonymous9:26 PM

    I'd like to take a knitting class. figured a lot out on my own, but would like to knit a sweater. I understand the teacher role. I work with special needs kids and find myself in the same situation- trying to "reteach" or explain in another way so the student will get it. I find I do a lot of tongue biting :)

  8. Fran Kane4:12 AM

    I wish I'd taken a course in tiling before I tried a project in my bathroom. I ended up learning as I went along so the last bit I did looks fabulous but the earlier stuff not so.
    I think a general DIY course would be a great thing for me as I love having a go, but hate making mistakes. I'm delighted with the end result of the tiling and very proud of myself, but some instruction beforehand would definitely have helped.

    I also love history and sciences. I wasn't very good at school and would love to learn these things some day - maybe when I retire...

  9. I have tried learning online, but I really dont think it is as good as having a teacher sitting next to you!

  10. Anonymous3:55 PM

    I have taken chemistry, biology, physics, and literature online for college credit. I really enjoyed the online format, BUT it takes alot of extra work, and you dont DARE fall behind if it is a for credit course. I was taking a full online course load and working full time, got sick with swine flu, and got so behind in physics I couldn't catch up and ended up failing. Looking at going back to school soon, hopefully this fall. Some classes (physics) probabl should be in class instead of online, makes for better learning.