Well, I've hit the halfway mark in my first online course.  I was afraid of online courses, but found out late last semester that I was not 2 courses away from my Junior year.  I'm a sophmore... still (unhappy grunt).

So, I decide to transfer to University anyway.  I'd already begun the process and it's an exhausting process to transfer you, your data and your financial and set up everything at school and online.  There are so many things you don't know to ask and the new or part time people don't know to tell you either.  And after repeated visits to many offices, I learned my summer pell did not transfer because of one question no one asked: Do you have a special circumstance? 

And, because of one piece of information no one gave: be sure to tell the old school and their financial aid office that you transferred so they will release any financial aid and the new school can obtain it for you.  To me, this sounds like a transfer..... to them, it is a "complicated process" that seems to work alot like credit card interest rates.  If anyone knew what to do, they weren't available!   

As you might guess, neither of those things happened.  So, the day before Summer II begins, I've not received any mail and I ask for my status, which is..... (drum roll please!) ... no status.  Oh jolly! 

10 calls and 5 departments later, I find a lovely lady who knows her job and everyone and tells me how to into a class despite having no aid.  Finally, some headway.... ugh, and a loan.  

And that's how I enrolled in my dreaded first online class at University.  They had only one class I could take in Summer II, and it was online.  ONLINE!!!!  Ohhhhh nooooooo.   I'm am sooo not an online student.  They will drop me into online purgatory!  Online courses are perceived as easier, and I'm here with Scarlet O'Hara as my witness to tell you hogwash, ballyhoo and fiddle dee dee.... it ain't! 

I'm handling the course load, but it has required tremendous self-discipline.  No one notices if you don't show up or turn in your work and no one calls you or responds to email and naturally, there is no one to see you and remark about class.  It seems like you could really focus, but you loose all social contact and context.  If you can, get a jump start because you will work longer and without benefit of touching base. 

Ok, yes you can email the teacher....but so can the other 50 students.  It's not like this is the teachers only class and they are waiting solely for your email.  And, you can't cover everything all the time.  So when reality sets in that you are truly alone in the digital age, there you are struggling to pose a questions via email that you aren't sure how to ask and praying you can find a phone number to leave a message so you can have a 5 minute conversation to avoid 2 days of email.  It is abundantly clear at this point HOW we all process information differently.  I am a literal thinker and a spatial learner.  I am almost equally left and right brained, so its hard for teachers to "pin" my particular study style as well.  Oh yeah, that's a fun one!  I am also the person up front all semester asking questions, you know the one the others kids say "wait, she'll ask... " because they are too nervous or shy to ask.  And ask I do.  As one professor told me, you are not what you say and everyone say stupid things!  (love her for that!)

So there I am with my questions, I can't bombard the teacher, but I want to know what the teacher wants and thinks.  Looking it up doesn't always work, the teacher's answer is the right answer if you want a good grade.  Yes, I said it... grades are important to me.  Online is intimidating, not easy.  Task oriented yes, easy no. 

So here I am alone in my online class, a few days ahead of schedule.  The homework has been taxing primarily because there's no teacher in front of the class directing your focus. 

The worse part is the online site.  It's not difficult, just not intuitive and with limitations.  Taking 30 minutes to find information is wasting time and forcing you to do homework while you learn to navigate the site.  Online learning is trial by fire, or on-the-job-training!  I know, you'r ethinking why not just take the tutorial?  Because there are 3 sites to get through to get to the material and there is no tutorial for all of that.  

In talking with other students, this is a global issue.  We figure it out, I am handling the not so simple set up.  Perhaps the next onlince course (gasp....did I write that?) will be smoother.  My tip for you is not to get locked out during exams!  I got locked out & the helpdesk reset my password immediately!!  Wow, and told me I couldn't log back in fr 4 hours. 

The good news is the university system is having each campus take over their own web administration next fall.  If you aren't scared of online classes by now, please befriend me now!  My difficulty with online courses is learning how to function with a semi-organized site, how to communicate when no one is listening, and spending 3 times the normal amount of time studying.  

Pitty the fool who thinks online courses save time.  My one class uses 4 websites, 3 places to check email, 3 places to post documents and don't forget all the googling, webchat, group discussions, video email, etc.  The only thing virtual about this class is the estimated time!  Oh time saving joy, I set up university email to forward to my personal email and double drat!!  It only forwards the teachers' email, not your classmates! \
And I'm the dinosaur???