Thursday, July 8, 2010

BYU-I Learning Curve Flattening. Slowly.

As expected, the steep learning curve I’m encountering as I delve into BYU-Idaho’s online teaching program is starting to flatten. That or I’m having a psychotic episode.

It’s all in the familiarity. At USU, we used strictly Blackboard; at BYU-Idaho, it’s a mixture of Blackboard – or so they say – with a lot of other things; boxes within boxes, as I keep describing it to Michelle. It’s kind of like exploring one of those old houses in a murder mystery, there are always secret rooms and darkened hallways containing surprises you wouldn’t expect to find there, but they’re all vitally important to solving the mystery. I suppose getting familiar with all these boxes within boxes will soon help me find the shortcuts; I’ll know the secret trap doors and hidden passages so I can navigate through the site as good as the next guy.

Kinda like these guys:

So I posted my first messages today, to the threads in the class. I’m always nervous at being the first, but I suppose someone has to be first, don’t they? Here’s an excerpt, as I babbled on about time management:

This brings me to part of that life: It’s a travel and adventure website where anyone can post photos they’ve taken of the places they’ve seen, and stories telling us about what they’ve done. That project can at times seem overwhelming, but what works is this: I have a set time every week when I block out two hours in which I work on Uncharted stuff exclusively. I try as hard as I can never to vary from that schedule and, more importantly, I make sure I have a variety of tasks I have to accomplish in that time, so the variety keeps me interested and hopping.

I plan to do the same with my online English course. This will, obviously, require more time during the week, but in setting a time each day in which I dedicate myself to the class, I’ll be able to keep up.

The blocks of time will take three forms.

1)Each day I’ll set aside time to be in the online classroom, responding to posts, responding to e-mails. This will be in the time frame of 9-11 pm. It may be late in the day, but I’ll make it clear to my students that’s the time frame they may expect me to be in “class.” I catch my bus at 5 am and don’t get home until 7 pm Monday through Thursday – and my family deserves what time I can give them before I head to class.
2)That brings me to the second block: The home commute. When I was working on my masters degree, I used that home commute to study. Now that I’m teaching, I’ll use that 1 ½ hour commute to grade papers, go over lesson materials and otherwise do the grading and preparation an instructor needs to do to be well-prepared.
3)Then there’s the office hour, in which I’ll be open to phone calls, Skype chats and even face-to-face meetings with students (I’m lucky enough to live local to BYU-Idaho). That office hour will be on Friday, when I’m not at work.

I’m sure this plan will be subject to some tweaking as I get into the routine, and as student needs change from day to day, week to week. I simply know setting aside these blocks of time for this online class will help me stay on target, be responsive, and have grades ready when they need to be.

So who knew Uncharted was going to prepare me for this kind of adventure?

No comments: