Last spring, after participating in two online courses, I decided to pursue my dream of working on my Masters degree. I carefully considered the many options available and eventually decided to enroll in an Online Learning and Teaching program. As the material; would almost exclusively be delivered online I tested my commitment to the process by registering for a couple not for credit online courses on a subject that interested me. I was excited! I completed one course in two weeks and another in three. (I am still working on another...) The platform seemed to suit me. Armed with a new $1300 device and a great deal of enthusiasm I was prepared to begin my post graduate studies.
After months of anticipation the first online session was about to begin. I had practiced accessing the university website that contained the course material and discussion boards and felt prepared for the big day. I was taking that first step forward.
Then came the proverbial two steps back.
I typed the URL given to the students by the professor into my web browser more than twenty minutes prior to the session and....nothing. I tried downloading the required java updates.....nothing. I tried accessing the site on a different device....nothing. Frustration grew. Frustration turned into anger. Anger turned into tears. My enthusiasm had waned, replaced by despair. If this was the world of online learning, I was convinced it wasn't for me.
It is not within me, however, to quit. Taking several deep breaths (and a sip of the sugary, caffeinated soda I had given up eight months ago) I decided to try one last time on my old laptop. I crossed my fingers. I crossed my toes. I probably even crossed my eyes.
With a few additional clicks I was live on the interactive site, viewing the professor's slide show and listening to her explain how the first week would unfold. I felt the tension dissipate from my being and a sense of relief washed over me. I could do this!
What did I learn from this experience?
First, life-long learning requires passion and genuine interest in a topic.
Second, persistence is a virtue that will reap rewards in the end.
And finally, along with "My dog ate my homework" I will now always accept "I experienced technical difficulties" as a legitimate excuse when my students hand in assignments late.