My School Experience in Retrospect

August 9, 2006

The summer semester is over – all of my work is done. I am now starting to think not just about my most recent class, but my entire experience in school (now that I am officially 1/3 of the way through the program). I was rereading some of my earlier posts conerning my experiences about online classes to remind myself about where my thoughts have been. Overall, I’m still happy with my choice to attend SCSU as a distance student. But, I haven’t necessarily been getting all that I would like out of the program. Is this because of the program itself or the specific classes that I have found lacking (which isn’t all of them)? Is it because I’m not engaged enough in the process or am I not being engaged? Are online classes by nature less engaging given the physical distance that may separate the students from the campus? Can distance students expect to form some sort of bond with their classmates, their professor or with their schools? Are colleges willing to work to allow this type of community to develop? What would be the best way to allow such relationships to develop? Can online students ever be as active within the school community as traditional students? Would they even want to be (would I want to be)?

Given that I am a pretty quiet person, I didn’t really think that the lack of community or the lack of relationships with other students would bother me – or that I would miss it. But, I definitely do. This past semester, many of those of us in the class were extremely unsure about the class, the assignments, the professor, etc. In a traditional setting, I think we all would have discussed it more – and by discussing it would have felt better about things. That is fairly difficult to do online. There was some discussion. However, all discussions that take place in a course place are accessible by the professor. I think this hampers the discussions that do take place. In my opinion, this inhibits people from sharing anything or discussing anything that could be construed as critical or negative. I know I often refrain from discussing things because I feel as if it could impact my grade.

Learning online is a very different experience. It is very hard to find one’s place (well, I’m finding it hard). Despite this, it is extremely convenient. I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to fit a traditional program into my life at this point. Obviously there are trade offs. However, I do think that more is possible – I’m just not sure how to go about getting more.

Oh the Possibilities

August 9, 2006

Library TechBytes: Wet, Dry & Wireless

Very interesting development in the world of laundry (thanks to Helene from Library TechBytes for this link). I can only imagine the wonder of being able to check on the status of my laundry on my cell phone, laptop or tv. Oh, but wait, my father taught me never to leave the washer or dry on when I wasn’t home. The fact that our dryer’s timing mechanism kicked the bucket, the dryer overheated and almost caught fire reinforced this notion. Also, would it move the clothes from the washer to the dryer when they are clean? Would it fold the clothes after they are dry?

Will it fly? I have no idea. But, I can see some uses for this – to spy on loved ones to see if they have done their chores while one is away. Or, friends could have parties where they have their washers and dryers compete to see whose finishes first. Hhmmmm!!  Some interesting possibilities!!

IM Reference in the Library

August 9, 2006

Blog about Libraries: Use What They Use. Now.

Steve asks “why in the world doesn’t every library with an internet connection offer IM Reference?” Well, I really can’t answer that question, but I can give some perspective on why we don’t use it at the library where I work – and at this point, have no intention of offering it. I, personally, don’t push the idea because there are more important things that I need to push staff on. As Steve discusses in relation to his own library, staff buy in to the idea is critical. Without it, the use of IM Reference would be doomed to failure. At my library, the reference staff is not overly interested. They have done some testing with IM and felt that the response was so abysmal that wider testing was not worth it. There was never any agreement on hours of service for IM Reference, on priority of IM Reference over walk-in or phone customers or on how to handle IM requests that took more time and required followup. The only time that students expressed interest in being able to IM Reference staff was when the library was closed – preferably overnight. For many reasons, nobody is really interested in answering the students’ questions at 2AM.

Ultimately, using IM for reference at our library is not a priority – and really isn’t on the radar screen. The students don’t seem to really care about it and don’t seem to need it. Granted, they might use it if we provided the service. However, there does not appear to be a need for this service – and that is the bottom line at our institution.

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