I am in the middle of my first true online class, a copyediting course through UC San Diego’s extension program. It is part of a copyediting certificate I might complete in my effort to develop portable skills. But I’m not in love with the online process. I hanker for the days of blackboards, or at least whiteboards. The course is conducted, it is hard to say taught, using Blackboard, an online classroom.
While some online classes have the advantage of being self-paced (this one isn’t) and they can be completed from the comfort of my living room, the experience is so impersonal. I miss interacting with other students and the instructor on a casual basis. I miss being able to ask questions that pop into my head during the middle of a lecture. I miss sitting in a classroom. I worry that becoming too involved in online classes after I stop working full-time will be isolating. I don’t want to sit in front of my computer all day. I want a real student setting.
This is not to say all classroom experiences are equal. I took a writing class a couple of years ago where the teacher (a last minute substitute who had no idea how to teach the class) spent most of the time reading the textbook, until the students revolted. He is lucky we revolted rather than bolted. I have encountered this lack of teaching skills in a number of evening or non traditional course instructors.
Does this show my age? Am I out of touch with the 21st century education delivery system? I think I am to some extent. But after I retire I want to avoid the feeling of isolation that often comes with leaving the workplace. I think the local community college system in northern Virginia will be a good alternative. And when I am 60 (shortly after I retire) I can audit many classes without paying tuition and fees. A way to economize and learn at the same time.