Sometime around 1200 this past Sunday, I finished my on-line certificate program. I am now the proud holder of a certificate showing that I can do things on-line (to be fair, it was a little more valuable than that - with a 95.93% grade, thank you very much). I think I will end up with information that I can use from this. I thought I would share a few of my experiences as this was my first formal on-line class.
1) Going back to school at all is hard - I have not taken a formal college class since 1994 or so. I have done individual one day classes as part of my career, but not the sort of longer term learning that a college program expects. It is kind of like riding a bike (you remember how, eventually), but it certainly was an adjustment.
2) On-line courses take adjustment - In this case, there were four classes consisting of four individual modules with 4-7 sections, each taking from 2-4 hours per module. Originally I thought I could do a single session a day. This was difficult as it took away from the total learning process - a smidge here, a dash there, and suddenly I have forgotten everything. I ended up having to do it in larger chunks, which meant 6-7 hours on a Saturday.
3) The process itself is good - Learning online, I can always rewind. I can pause and take notes. For this classes, I could download the materials in Powerpoint. And I can review the classes later. I wish I had these luxuries 30 years ago.
4) On-line classes are the future - Learning at your own pace in your own home is a great thing. In this case the price was a little steep - $3,000 or so, but paid for by work. I suspect the same class would be twice to three times that if I were physically present. The cost of such learning will eventually break down the barriers about it not being a "real" education as the value of the education presents itself. The smarter established colleges will adapt, the hidebound ones will not (this was the "competitive advantage" they talked about so much in the course - strategically going to where the market is going, not where it has been or even where it is).
Would I do it again? Yes, now that I understand better what to expect and how I will have to structure my time. Truly, for the convenience and the cost, there is really not another option for someone like me at this point.
And besides, who really misses being crammed into those desks which never really felt comfortable?