The School Water Cooler

Classes started back up the week before last. I am working on the fifth course of the eight I need to complete the program. There seem to be fewer HR people this time around.

While the courses are similarly structured for the online experience, the expectations of the professors differ. For example, in my first class, I was marked down on my final project for failing to properly format my bibliography according to APA standards. In my second course, taught by the head of the department, I asked about the standards in advance. He told me not to worry about it. As long as they could tell I was citing my sources, points were not held back for punctuation. Two of my four classes had a midterm exam. Two had final projects. Some had graded weekly assignments. So yes – in that respect it is like being in live classes.

The difference? The Water Cooler. The fear in online coursework is that students will not interact enough. So weekly discussions posted online are required in each course. And there is a general discussion board for chatty use. In my last class, there was an uprising from the masses after the midterm was scored. People actually insulted the professor on the Water Cooler. Excuse me while I don’t participate.

This time around, there are plenty of newbies struggling with the amount of work. I was right there in my first class. I adjusted. I considered offering up some thoughts, but then I read the other comments. They were along the lines of:

“Wait until you get to Marketing! Twice as much reading and written assignments every week!”

I am glad I didn’t hear that kind of thing when I was a newbie.

My goal has been to read ahead as soon as I receive the course materials and stay ahead of the syllabus for the duration. So far, so good. Due dates each week are Tuesday at midnight. My goal is Sunday before I go to bed. This will be easier now that football season is over.

I have now determined my best advice:

Develop your schedule and stick to it. Leave room for unexpected events and your nephew’s birthday party. Don’t let other students scare you. And for the love of all that’s Holy, do not trash the professor in public.

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