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The following are comments from students and instructors as they explain what online instruction has meant to them.
Because of online instruction, I have been able to continue working uninterrupted by school classes. I am able to do my schoolwork at a convienient time for myself. Because of online instruction, I am able to be in school still because, otherwise, I would not be able to attend. The only way for me to go further in my career is to get a degree. With online education I am working toward that.
In 1998 I started classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College. The original plan was to complete the entry-level office worker certificate. This was all I thought that I could do. Well, as the story goes, the more I learned the more I realized I could learn, and I moved from entry level office worker to the administrative assistant certificate program. Many of the classes that I took were online classes. Since I was the primary caregiver for my two young children, this allowed me to do my schoolwork on my time without the need for child care. Although online classes may not work for everyone they were perfect for me. I developed skills in time management, discipline, creating a system, and following through that I had not used before.
Before I had finished my certificate I was offered a job by an attorney who was looking for someone with a home office. It turned out that he needed a virtual assistant and the online classes had taught me that I could be disciplined enough to do this kind of work from home. It is not easy to make yourself go and work when there are household tasks to be done, but four years later I find I am still using the skills I learned for the online classes to stay on task for my virtual assistant jobs.
Being able to utilize online classes has given me the flexibility to succeed in other areas of my life at the same time. I still have classes on campus, but a nice mixture each semester has definitely had a positive impact on me. I can still work, take other courses, and still have enough time for relaxation. The opportunity to limit the parking battles and the hours on campus, I am able to get the same education from being able to do homework and assignments when my schedule allows it. If it weren't for online classes, I don't believe I would have had the same success in college that I have experienced. The scheduling conflicts would cause headaches for me and my employer, and I would have been drained from running around the city all day long. I realize this isn't a specific success story, but I am just expressing an overall view of how online classes have benefitted the quality of my life.
Students like being online because of the convienience. I like it because it saves me on both time that I could be using to make some money at work and it saves on gas and car miles. I can do my homework in my pajamas in the comfort of my own home or during down time at my workplace. I also think that when people are in an online course, they feel more inclined to actually speak up than they would in a class. Some people feel more comfortable on a computer than in a classroom. I like not having to deal with loud annoying students in a classroom location setting. When I am in a classroom, sometimes I feel as if some students are
For me, online education just makes my life a lot easier by taking a lot of stress out of the college experience. The fact that I can attend my class any day and any time is comforting. Being able to e-mail both teachers and students adds to the helpfulness. I feel I learn better in this type of setting. Online education isn't for everyone though. A person must understand that just because a class is online, it is still a class and people are in the class to learn. If I was able to do online education for all or most of my classes from a community college I would.
I'm a single mother of two boys, ages 11 and 8 (Patrick and Tommy). I lost my job because Tommy is autistic and when he outgrew his awesome preschool, it was impossible to find a daycare. Slowly, but surely, I faded from the fast track; worked part time, then finally giving up and leaving my job. I had to find a job that would pay enough to afford a special nanny for Tommy or find something that would allow me to work from home. Joblink pointed me to SRJC where I found the virtual assistant certificate program and I knew this was my ticket.
The online classes were perfect for my situation. Not only was I able to take all the classes from home, but the online classes also gave me the opportunity to experience what working virtually would actually be like. I knew that if I could do well in the classes, I would succeed as a virtual assistant.
And, so far so good! I'm working as a subcontractor for three virtual assistants and things are going great. I have a couple of my own clients as well. I am considering continuing my education by taking one or two online classes each semester.
Here are some reasons why I have opted for online classes: I can take classes directly related to work at work, just as I would participate in a Webinar to extend my knowledge about a particular software or process. This is cost effective for my employer as well, since online classes at Santa Rosa Junior College are inexpensive compared to having an instructor come on site to teach, enrolling in a seminar in Sacramento, or San Francisco for a day course in a subject. I love not having to park. Online classes fit in with a fluctuating schedule – a student does not have to commit to every Monday night, for example. Standard classes require a student to have time available when the class is offered, which may not be the case. I am on the computer all day anyway, and the online coursework adds variety and challenge to my routine.
I am an international student from Germany and took an online international business class in fall 2001 at SRJC. It was flexible, easy to navigate, and very educational to study with enrolled students from Sweden and to have the opportunity to talk to interesting business executives from all over the world via e-mail.
I enjoy almost every aspect of teaching online. I enjoy developing the course and thinking through every word I am going to say, every assignment that I am going to develop for an online learning, and every assessment tool that I am going to use to evaluate the students' progress. I particularly enjoy the discussions in my online classes and the opportunity I have to get to know my students. I have had the opportunity to work with students living outside our area, including students in other countries.
In 1997 when I began teaching online, my focus switched to learning rather than teaching . It has made me think more about how my students will be able to learn the lessons and has required that I consider many more options for the students that I might not have done in a face-to-face classroom. Before long I realized there was so much more to learn about learning that I continued my education and obtained a second master's degree - one in online teaching and learning.
They enjoy the flexibility. Most of my students have work and family schedules to juggle. Online classes make it easier for them to fit their classes into their personal schedules rather than the other way around. Of course, not having to find a parking place on the Santa Rosa Campus is obviously a benefit.
When I began teaching online, I had not realized how much my students' reading and writing skills would improve. Online discussions are required in my classes, and the students seem to enjoy them. They are less embarrassed to speak, since no one is looking at them. They find there are others in the class with similar opinions and interests and that there are students who are willing to come to their assistance when they need help. This type of collaboration and cooperation does not happen as easily in face-to-face classes. Also, the students gain firsthand experiences in working virtually, which is a skill set that is becoming increasingly necessary in industry. Lastly, I do not use textbooks in my class. I rely heavily on free Web resources. Students are required to create a Webliography full of Web sites that they will be able to use in the future rather than having a textbook that they often sell back to the bookstore.