Have you ever taken an online class? Would you? Do you think it would be exciting, refreshing, frustrating, difficult, all of the above? How does a sense of community grow in an online class? Do you feel connected to the other students when you can’t see their expressions, hear their laughter, smell their coffee, or bump into them on the way to your seat? Does the subject matter matter? What’s it like for the teacher?
Seems that all I have are questions. Perhaps at the end of the next eight weeks, I’ll have a few answers. Tomorrow, I officially start my first online class, though I’ve already posted a pic, short intro and read others’ introductions. It’s a writing class with a teacher I’ve had before, which is probably what allowed me to take the leap to sign up for the class. I already know the sound of his voice and how he plots a story on the marker board. How does that help for an online class? Familiarity breeds comfort for me.
We have discussion boards, forums they’re called, and a weekly live chat. In a way, it makes a lot of sense to have an online writing class. We will be immersed in each other’s written words, not just the 10 pages we submit for critique, but in every post we write. We will be learning who we are almost solely through our writing. Will we pay closer attention to each other’s words when that’s all we see?
In one online discussion forum I used to frequent, several of the members had such strong (unique? clear? definite?) writing voices, that I would know their posts without needing to see their names or ever having seen their faces. At the time, that online community felt very close-knit. I’m sure that can happen in an online class also, but I’m at a loss to explain how it happens or how to make it happen.
I wonder what the next eight weeks will bring. Lots of reading and writing and maybe a even a little sense of community. I’m eager to find out. What are your experiences in online classes?