Sunday, September 13, 2015

Every long journey starts with a single step

     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.

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