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.