Distance Learning - and I use the term advisedly

There was a scheduled chat for my course on Mobile Technology for Library Technicians last night. There haven't been any chats in my last few courses. I haven't missed them, exactly, but they can be fun and productive. It's a rare chance to get a glimpse of fellow students and share ideas, when usually we're all toiling away in isolation and only seeing the odd remark on a discussion board. I tend to have a good time in chats because a) I can type really fast, so I'm always able to reply quickly and address people before ten more comments have been entered and b) I'm old now and, whereas I used to concentrate on getting the right answer the most times, now I try to get the most people to comment on how funny I am. I can't seem to stop myself from trying to get the professor to say "Allison, you're being slightly inappropriate." In the really tough course on subject analysis, wherein the Dewey Decimal System almost drove me to rack and ruin, the chats were a great opportunity to commiserate, realize that everyone was having an equally rough time, and share strategies for not letting the course break us. So yeah, a good chat can be useful and entertaining.

Last night's chat, on the other hand, was a total clusterfuck.

It was too early in the course. Nobody had read enough to have any really intelligent questions or enlightening comments. There is a huge number of students, so it's almost impossible to follow a conversation or reply to someone or keep track of who the instructor is addressing. A couple of people had posted in the discussion groups about making their own QR codes, which had made me afraid that this group was going to be way more advanced than I am in mobile technology and I might be out of my depth. If you're the kind of person that thinks it's kind of horrible of me to go into the chat worrying that people might make fun of me for sounding dumb and then proceed to make fun of people for sounding dumb, this is probably a good time for you to go read something else.

So there was an online quiz we had to do. There were a few technical difficulties with the online quiz. There are almost always a few technical difficulties with something at some point in these courses. The instructor had already told us in a group email that she was working on it, and not to worry about it.

Many, many people were very worried about it. They had not gotten perfect on the quiz, and they didn't understand why. They had seen that other people didn't get perfect and didn't understand why either, so they felt entirely justified in demanding to know why they didn't get perfect (obvious answer being 'you answered some of the questions wrong'). They couldn't see if their answers had been submitted properly. They were VERY UPSET that they couldn't see if their answers had been submitted properly.

Then there's the part of the chat where (this happens even in the good ones) several people want to know when we will getting back our marks from the first assignment. Even though it's always been clearly laid out when we can expect to get our marks back. Then someone (or several someones) always ask "how did we do on Assignment 1?", when what they really mean is "How did I do on Assignment 1?" and, well, yeah, you still have to wait for your mark, because the instructor is most likely not going to say what she's actually thinking, which is, "most of you fine, a couple of you really well, and some of you should get whatever money back is possible and buy lottery tickets" .

My husband came up to make me tea as I was staring in disbelief at the screen. I told him what was going on. I said "somebody just asked what WiFi is". "Say that you're confused about your sexuality", he said helpfully.

"Nicole has to leave early to walk her dog", I said. "Forty people just said good-bye to Nicole." He gave me my tea and told me not to bang my head on the table too hard. Someone asked the instructor if she had any advice for doing well on the course. She suggested reading the lectures and working carefully on the assignments.

The last time I had a course with chats, the power went off here just as one was about to start. I have a bad feeling that might happen again.


Mary Lynn said…
Yikes! What's WiFi?

On the other hand, I would totally love to be in on a chat where you get told you're being slightly inappropriate. That sound like fun.
StephLove said…
Excellent advice from the prof on how to do well in the course.
Sarah McCormack said…
your husband is hilarious!
Patti said…
Wow. Just. Wow.
Julie said…
there's that word again: clusterfuck. i still haven't intergrated that into my vocab. must try it on my boss today.
Ms. G said…
Ha Ha- Love your husbands comment! You should have done it : )
Lynn said…
Ha, ha, and some DOH thrown in. This made me snort out loud:

"now I try to get the most people to comment on how funny I am"

Which is totes meta, don't you think?
Nicole said…
What's WiFi? Haha. I have been dealing with someone lately who is my age or thereabouts, and seems to have no idea whatsoever how the internet works. How is that possible?
Unknown said…
What Julie said. Oh wait, I am my boss. I am totally going to shout that at some point during the day tomorrow!

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